(And What We Can Do Better)
Okay, look, I cannot be the only parent who sat through Spiderman going, “Tony, you are fucking this up by the numbers,” can I?
Okay, look, I cannot be the only parent who sat through Spiderman going, “Tony, you are fucking this up by the numbers,” can I?
For parents who have just had a child come out to them as trans, and who are having trouble reconciling that with conservative Christianity.
When a baby is born, the first thing everyone wants to know is, “Is it a boy or a girl?” Even during pregnancy, parents often have an ultrasound scan, to look at a baby’s body and find out whether their baby has “boy parts” or “girl parts” before the child is born.
Schools are responsible for setting the tone of the school and keeping kids safe at school, but in order to do so they often require a sea change in how they handle reports of mistreatment, as well as how they train the kids.
The difference between life and death, between learning and depression, between functioning and suicidal ideation is not who people are, it’s how they are treated. That means that the people around them can be heroes, or they can be villains. There are no innocent bystanders.
This is true whether we are talking about trans people, LGBTQA people, disabled people, or just kids who ‘read’ to others as being different for whatever reason.Even when bullying doesn’t involve fists, it can kill. It can make people feel trapped in their situation. And the opposite of bullying is not “stricter discipline” but “more connection.”
Teach kids to be heroes.
We need to talk. I know we’ve probably not met and we’ve never said word one to each other online because I filter the hell out of my Facebook and you probably don’t go to Tumblr because it’s incomprehensible and I usually don’t get into it on those comment threads. But you need to hear this.
So, I adore your kids, okay? They’re amazing. They are bright sparks in a hard world. They’re looking around at a society that is far stranger than the one I grew up in, and let me tell you, Oregon in the 80’s and 90’s was pretty dang strange. And they’re trying to figure out who they are and where they fit.
These are kids who have loving hearts, who genuinely want to make the world a better place, and find their place in it. They want to make things better for poor people and children, and they want to help keep people safe and they genuinely want to do the right thing just as soon as they can figure out exactly what that is.
I need you to stop breaking them.
In my world, rule number one is “Mama loves you.” Not, “Mama loves you if you go to college and marry a nice person of the opposite sex and dress like people expect you to and get a job that is socially approved with sufficient status.” Not, “Mama loves you if you go to the right church and wait until marriage to have sex.”
Just, “Mama loves you.”
Here are things that don’t matter when it comes to rule number one:
Now, I get having hopes and dreams for your child. I’ve got three children and I’ve poured my life into them for 23 years. I get having expectations and wanting to provide them with a solid start in this difficult world. But there’s a right way to do that and a wrong way. It’s one thing to help your kids understand your values. But if the value at the top of the list isn’t “Mama loves you” (or parental/quasiparental tag of choice), I’m sorry, the moment your child realizes that they can’t meet your ideal for them, there’s an awfully good chance they’re either going to break, or you’re going to lose them, or both.
You need to understand that you cannot stop a child from being gay, or trans, or bi, or nonbinary. It’s not about “how you raised them”, it just is. And the more you make them feel “wrong”, the less they’re going to care about doing right. The less you love them, the less they will feel lovable, and the more likely they’re going to go looking for that love in harmful places. You can’t make them gay, but you can make them broken.
I am losing count of the number of teenagers I have had in my house or in my inbox or chat talking about how they can’t tell their parents who they are because they are afraid. Kids who did tell you who they are, and you kicked them out, because “not under your roof.” Kids who struggle for years to get back to a healthy place where they place enough value on their own bodies and souls that they don’t go out doing the exact risky and scary stuff you’re afraid of because it doesn’t matter, they aren’t worth it, you told them so.
I spend a lot of time telling them how worth it they are. And they are. These are beautiful souls who, given a chance, will pour their whole selves into helping someone, into making a difference. They have so much to offer, but you make it all harder by teaching them that they don’t.
I love your kids, but it hurts me when they hurt, and I need you to stop breaking them. Stop worrying so much about their immortal souls and worry a lot more about their hearts. Stop worrying about what the neighbors will think, and start worrying about whether your child will survive.
So… stop asking your kids when they’re going to give you grandchildren. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Stop asking them when they’re going to get married, because the last thing you want for them is for them to end up with a bad marriage for the sake of being married. Stop judging the work they’re doing, and the friends they have.
You can tell them it’s okay to stand up for themselves. And accept it if they stand up to you. Listen. Don’t get defensive.
You can tell them it’s okay for them to expect people to treat them well. And then you better treat them well.
You can tell them it’s important to try hard and do their best. But don’t tell them they have to be the best. Don’t make your love contingent on victory conditions. Some of the best people in this world never won anything.
You can say that you worry about risky behavior because you love them and you want them safe, but don’t you dare kick them out and make them even more unsafe.
Teach them that you value them, not that they are worthless.
You can even teach them about your religious beliefs, but don’t you dare put them in hell on earth just because someone told you they might go to hell someday. I’m fairly certain if Jesus exists, he judges people more harshly for cruelty to their children than he does for who they sleep with or whether they have tattoos, that was pretty clear in the bible I read. Jesus was all about embracing people society couldn’t stand. Try being more like that.
I love your kids. They’ve slept on my couch and they’ve lived in my house and they are always welcome here. But it would be a better world if they didn’t end up broken to begin with.
Rule number one. Please. I’m begging you. Make sure they know it. Tell them it doesn’t matter. Tell them you want to understand but you don’t need to understand in order to keep loving them. Tell them they deserve love, and happiness, and joy and all good things, and that you know that their path in life may not look like your path but you want to be a safe space for them to come home to. That you don’t have to agree about politics or religion or social issues or any of those things, that they’re still worthy of all that life can give them.
And if that little person you thought was a boy comes to you and says that she’s a girl, your response there is a life-and-death issue. Their future happiness and ability to survive adulthood depends on what you say to them. And if it’s anything other than, “I love you, let’s figure this out and find out what you need to make you happy,” you’re playing with fire, because the biggest difference in whether or not a trans kid survives (yes literally survives) their teen years and young adulthood is whether they get support and acceptance or not. Your attitude can literally kill them.
Rule number one. Mama loves you.
Because while I will always keep my home open for them, I’d rather they not need me. I’d rather not have to build them back up and explain to them how you forgot the important thing.
Rule number one.
So it’s one thing to hear breastfeeding moms crow about how well breastmilk worked to clear up a baby’s red eye, but another to experience squirting oneself in the eye with fresh breastmilk.
First of all, it is painless. Soothing, even, if the eye is already irritated (and if it’s not, why bother?). Breastmilk is the exact balance an eye wants, and doesn’t create any sort of “foreign body” reaction. Mechanically, it washes the eye. But it also, fresh, contains leukocytes which directly fight infection. It contains sugars and nutrients which inflamed cells can use to help repair and function instantly. And it contains stem cells, which helps it repair damage directly. It blurs the vision for a few minutes, because it is not transparent, but it clears quickly, the inflammation settles down, and the pain goes.
But that’s just the beginning. When I burned my arm badly, I annointed the burn with breastmilk. The pain fled. Healing was rapid. Scarring minimal. I love hydrocolloids for burns but I’d rather apply breastmilk. My housemate gasped when a bad, fresh grease burn vanished in minutes with a few drops of milk on it. To the point where a year or two later, when a couple injuries happened at once, plus an old skin inflammation that had been failing to heal for months… I offered to find someone to donate a small amount of fresh milk, and the offer was accepted, strange as it sounded.
But it didn’t sound strange to my community of moms… my request was answered by five volunteers within half an hour. A few hours later we had a small jar of milk fresh in hand, and shortly after that healing had already begun, wounds that had been frustratingly difficult to heal for months had started to close. “More please?” was the request the next day. And another mom offered another half ounce. Not enough to deprive a baby, but such a tiny amount of precious liquid to heal a long hurt.
A couple years ago, I foolishly tried to clean an immersion blender and nearly chopped the tip of my finger off. It was cut to the bone, white, gaping. Direct pressure and breastmilk started helping quickly. By the time the EMTs arrived, it was holding together enough that I didn’t have to go in, by their judgement. The tip of my finger was dead white, and I annointed my finger with milk along the wound, visualized blood and lymph and nerves flowing, healing, functioning. I watched the tip of my finger pink up. They say that people with fibro have more nerve connections than they should, with more connections specifically to blood vessels and that the nerves do more than they’re supposed to. In any event, if I have poor blood flow in my skin, and someone points it out (a white splotch despite massage, for example), the moment they point it out it will pink up. It causes pain, it causes fibro, it causes reynauds… but it also might just have saved my fingertip. I kept applying milk. I kept visualizing. It kept pinking up whenever I thought about it. I thought about my finger for months (couldn’t help it, the nerves felt buzzy everywhere downstream from where they’d been cut.)
Two years later, and I’m still a little buzzy but blood flow and function are perfect. Barely a scar is visible. I wonder if it is because the wound was bathed in stem cells every time I thought to put a drop on it. There was a V-shaped flap. Even that healed. There was no infection.
On my birthday in 2014, I turned 42 and my son fell against a crate and split his lip. It was bad. And bleeding. And I nursed him immediately, and by the time he stopped, the bleeding had stopped, and the wound looked ten times better than when we’d started. He has a scar there, a small one, but milk and nursing saved him a trip to Urgent Care, and healed him fast.
My mother skeptically agreed to try it with one infection, and came asking for it the next time one struck.
The magic of breastmilk is transitory. Even refrigeration can inhibit the best parts of it.
But I think about how a drop of fresh milk could make a new burn vanish (milk was applied within minutes of the grease landing on the arm), and I think about how many gallons of fresh breastmilk a breastfed baby will consume… And yeah, I’m pretty sure formula will never do that.
People ask me why I don’t call formula a second choice, but a fourth choice. And it really comes down to the fact that fresh breast milk is a magic thing. And if it’s not possible, frozen or fridged from the baby’s mama is very good. If that can’t be had, donor milk is very beneficial and has helped many, many babies. (In my community, there are babies who have only ever had breastmilk despite their mothers having had mastectomies or severe blood loss that inhibited milk production). And if those things don’t work for a family, it’s a very good thing that formula is widely available, but it’s still the fourth choice. This is NOT a slam on formula feeding. This is not a criticism of people who can’t breastfeed or don’t feel comfortable taking donor milk. It’s a reality check. The “ideal” is not always possible in parenting, but we really ought to have a realistic knowledge of what the options are before we determine what the best fit is. It would be ideal for me to take my gregarious kid to social gatherings every day. With my chronic pain and fatigue issues, that’s not happening right now. But I’m not going to pretend that our routine is my “first choice”. My first preference would be to get up cheerfully in the morning, get Shiny off to school, go do something fun and educational with Miles with other children, come home, fix a nutritious lunch, do something productive and creative, and then make a fantastic dinner. But I haven’t gotten Shiny to the bus in four months because of an injury. Other people do it. Thank god they’re there to pick up the slack.
I don’t have milk anymore. When I had the embolism last year, I went on coumadin, and my levels jumped up and down on a daily basis because my special snowflake metabolism wouldn’t know consistent liver function from a sparkly unicorn. After shooting from 1.3 to 3.6 and ending up in the ER pissing blood for no good reason whatsoever, I asked to go on Xarelto… and put Miles on short shifts at the boob because the medicine does appear get into the milk, and being orally absorbed, may cause anticoagulation in a child. Not ideal in an active toddler. I dried up quickly. He still nurses now and then, despite saying he was done every day for six days, on the seventh, he lost his shit and begged for boob and I shrugged and let him nurse for 2 minutes and he was fine. Like magic. Even without milk.
So if I was being granular about it, I’d rank my own “preference/ideal” scale for infant feeding (<6 months) thusly:
Fresh mama’s milk at the breast
Fresh mama’s milk in a bottle or SNS (note that logistically this can be the single most draining approach to new baby parenting.)
Fridged mama’s milk
Frozen mama’s milk
Fresh donor milk (assuming a safe donor, which is an assumption that should not be made casually)
Fridged donor milk
Frozen donor milk
Pasteurized donor milk (personally, I react badly to cooked milk from cows. I can drink fresh raw milk or fridged raw milk or cooked-then-cultured milk without issues. It’s an enzyme thing. So feeding babies exclusively pasteurized milk, even human milk, isn’t high on my personal list of preferences, though it may have less risk of infection, it also does much less than fresh milk to help prevent infection and illness. But compared to formula, still gold.)
Cow-milk based formula (and here I’d rather have organic)
Cow-milk based whey hydrolysate formula (i.e. Good Start)
Cow-milk based full hydrolysate hypoallergenic formula (i.e. alimentum etc.)
When people say, “every drop is precious”… yes. Even if a mom only produces an ounce a day for her baby to drink, and the rest comes from something else, think about the magic that even that ounce can do. One drop to heal a small burn. 1/2 ounce to heal a couple of injuries and start healing on several more.
There’s a reason why it was worth it to me, when Shiny was still new, to weigh her, nurse her, weigh her, pump until I got to our “goal” and then feed that pumped milk immediately by bottle. The more of my relative-to-her normal stem cells that colonized in her gut, the better off she would be. I wish I’d bathed her in breastmilk, head to toe, though certainly I leaked enough in the early days that essentially, I did.
Entertainingly, scientists managed to create a rat forelimb using a collagen scaffold and seeded cells recently. It is remotely possible that one day we will have disembodied mammary glands that produce a reasonable facsimile of some of the biodynamic parts of breastmilk for feeding babies who can’t nurse. Add formula to the thing, have it convert that into something more alive.
And it will probably still be a distant second, third, or fourth to a mother’s own milk, to fresh milk from a donor. Because we still don’t fully understand the complexity that is human breastmilk. It’s possible we never quite will. Sometimes it seems that the more we learn, the more we learn that there is still to learn. What we know now is just one drop in the bucket.
This comes up all the time, so I’m putting it here so I don’t have to keep typing it. The questions are, “When should we start solids?” and “What should we use as first foods?” and “Why not wait longer than 6 months to start (or conversely, why wait past 4 months to start solids?)
There’s quite a bit of research (and a lot of parental experience with grabby babies) that says there is a “sweet spot” around six months for starting experimenting with solids. Babies started later than six months or earlier than four statistically speaking tend to have more allergies and reactions. Too early and the gut is still quite permeable and immune reactions can be triggered, too much later and they don’t get the small exposures that teach the immune system to ignore food as not-a-problem. Theoretically.
But this is not going to be a line by line cited official paper, this is how I feed my kids, and an approach to eating for babies that I think makes a lot of sense. I’ve been parenting for 21 years, have three children of vastly varying dietary foibles, allergies, sensitivities and pickiness, age 3, almost 10 and 21 1/2 at this writing, and have a zillion food issues so tend to read constantly on the subject. This is drawn from many sources, so if the wording appears familiar, it’s because I burned it into my brain at some point and don’t remember where I got it. I’m not looking up a darned thing for this right now, it’s mostly “what I tell people when they ask about it online”.Continue reading
Screw percentiles. Screw “Developmental age”. Feck the “he’ll never” or the “she can’t” and to HELL with “you’ll just have to accept”.
The most hopeful thing anyone ever said to me when my daughter was in kindergarten, in Life Skills, intelligence not testable, was “most of the kids in this class learn to read.” We discovered by accident a year later that if the text was big enough, she could read quite well. Silently.
Fuck test results. Love your son. Presume competence. Eliminate barriers. We’ve got your back.
Someone recently posted for discussion an idea they’d heard (not agreed with) that “Guys are the gas and girls are the brakes”. This was an infuriating concept on pretty much every level, but got me to thinking about the messages we send kids and what we need to teach them. Because in my experience, a HUGE percentage of rapes are as much a result of poor training and lack of consideration as actual malice or active intent.
Messages like “Guys are the gas”, or “If she doesn’t say no, she means yes” actually train guys to rape. It is entirely possible for a sexual encounter to seem like “no big deal” from one side and “soul destroying devastation” from the other, and when that is the case, ultimately we have to point at training. I have, in my own personal experience, known men who raped without being aware until after the fact that it was rape. Who once informed of the issue, corrected their behavior and expectations. Those are training issues. And we can fix them.
There has been a lot of talk recently about a relatively new concept… “Yes means yes”. Training kids that the default is “respect boundaries until invited in” is essential, fundamental to changing the current paradigm. How does that look?
I’ve started with my son while he is still a toddler. He’s not even 3, is still breastfeeding, and I’m setting limits with him about grabbing and touching. He has to ask if he can nurse. If I say no, he doesn’t get to grab. I don’t put up with him casually grabbing my boobs anymore at all, or with him getting aggressive with me.
We have to start that young. We have to teach little kids that hurting people we like is never okay. Simply insisting on manners can go a long way toward teaching mutual respect. Teaching those manners often requires demonstrating them. My husband and I spend a couple weeks saying to each other, “May I please be excused?” at the dinner table, because that was what reminded my son to ask. Things he says, “Gimme” for are rarely gotten. When he says “Please, may I” he usually gets what he wants if it is reasonable. I am often startled by how few children actually ask for things rather than demanding.
But most important, I think, is teaching simple self control. Delayed gratification. Teaching kids to think forward about consequences. It is not impossible. But the teaching never stops. I spend hours talking to the 21 year olds in my life about boundaries and limits and ways of handling the tricky situations they find themselves in.
In a lot of ways I’m very glad that I was born female, because I suspect that with the kind of training boys and girls got when I was a kid, I probably would have ended up raping someone without even understanding it as a young adult.
We teach kids a lot about “no means no”, but when you factor in the “freeze” response to “fight or flight”, the fact of the matter is that someone has to be able to communicate in order to say no, someone who is scared or drugged may not be able to do that. It has to be, it MUST be, “Yes means yes, No means no, Stop means stop, and silence is not consent.”
We have to teach kids to separate fantasy from reality. We see so many “sexy” scenes on television where an aggressive kiss with fighting back becomes willing participation…but in reality, we can’t risk that. The freeze response creates relaxation, and that relaxation could easily be confused for “lack of rejection”. It is possible to have fantasies of being overpowered, while absolutely never wanting that in real life, and we have to teach our kids about the difference. I can love reading science fiction and reading about space flight and not actually ever want to sit on the rocket ship, you know? I can adore stories about medieval cultures without ever wanting to live in a real one. I can enjoy watching a drama on television without ever wanting my life to be that dramatic.
is a good starting point for understanding why “No means no” is never enough.
In the morning I go to drop both kids off with a woman far more competent than I at this whole parenting nonsense–she handles Miles and Shiny and her four and five year old and sometimes a couple neighbor kids and she’s SIX MONTHS PREGNANT. At six months pregnant I was lucky if I could get up and down the stairs.
Then physical therapy. Then back to get the kids and back home to talk to the DDS worker. I vacillate between wanting the house to be cleaner and wondering if I shouldn’t have had the person who cleans for me in on Monday, so he could see the full force of what it gets like.
I inhaled a tiny bit of sausage tonight. It is irritating and annoying but not blocking my oxygen, so hopefully it will not kill me before tomorrow afternoon. I have too much shit to do.
The two most likely suspects for taking Shiny after school are full… and her school program goes from 7:30 am to 2:20 in the afternoon. That’s door to door. It is the shortest school day she has had during the regular year since kindergarten, and I’m going to have to fight them to get her a little earlier so she can have breakfast at school. So after school care is important. The city is the cheap option. Then there’s the daycare down the street, run by one of our co-op members, not terribly more expensive per month, but the co-op mama is gluten free and aware and holds babies and doesn’t hold slavishly to schedules for their own sake and would probably be a better fit, not that it matters, she’s full. Shiny is first on her wait list and 7th on the wait list for the city.
If respite comes through, there’s other options, but I am not holding my breath. I feel like a schmuck for wanting her out of the house from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, but that extra 3 hours in the afternoon (4 on Wednesdays) feels like the difference between surviving and maybe, possibly starting to get my health back. When it’s just me and Miles, we range through the house, go places in the car, do things, take naps, get shit done. When it’s me and Shiny and Miles it is hard to get out of my chair, I can’t leave them alone together for long and I *certainly* can’t take them with me. I can’ t just be upstairs napping with Miles while Shiny is downstairs, she’ll push a table over to the entertainment center, climb up and dismantle my network (which is currently located about 7 feet off the ground). I can’t tell you how many routers I’ve already gone through. It is crazy. If she were a typical 8 year old, she would actually be a force for order rather than chaos, she’d be able to make her own lunch, she wouldn’t be smearing shit on the walls, she’d be helping with her baby brother rather than clobbering him. I don’t often think about that, but today I must because today I need to make the case for services based on her disability, and that means pointing out EVERYTHING that is different because of her disability.
Horrible head space, but it’s for a good cause.
This sausage is annoying the crap out of me–I’m not thrilled that my next step is to go upstairs and lie down and put a c-pap on, I think it will just drive it farther down.
In response to this post on The Leaky Boob’s wall: https://www.facebook.com/TheLeakyBoob/posts/484326791605293
(The situation: A mother finds out that a 12 year old relative has “breastfed” her 24 month old nursling in front of her 9 year old and told the 9 year old not to tell. When her family told her it was innocent and the child was curious, she disagreed and called CPS who told her it did not rise to the level of something they’d investigate due to the 12 year old being a minor.)
It’s not “no big deal”… but in this kind of situation, how YOU react will 100% color how it affects your child.
The first thing you have to do when your child tells you anything of this nature (questionable physical contact that is not innately upsetting to the child but may be confusing) is take a deep breath, keep your “freak out” internal to yourself, and go into “up time”. Put your own reactions on the back burner–this is NOT about you. Ask questions. “So what happened? Are you okay? Do you have any questions? How do you feel? How did that make you feel?”
Listen. You absolutely CANNOT listen if you are utterly freaking out and calling the police. The police MIGHT in some circumstances be appropriate…but if you are “after the fact” by more than a few hours, or it involves someone known to you, this may be important, it may require action, but it is NOT an emergency. You have time to think and consider your options.
When the person initiating the contact is younger than about 13, you MUST remember that they themselves are still children, and kids have TERRIBLE judgment, and there’s a reason that consent ages are older.
Now, once you have listened to your child, you need to take a step back and assess the situation. Were they hurt? Do they think it is a big deal? Are they upset? Is it just something silly? Do they understand the words they’re using, and are they meaning what you mean? (My daughter at age 4 told me she’d “had sex” with a friend. Some maternal freaking out on the inside and some gentle questioning later, it turns out they stood back to back and rubbed their clothed butts against each other.)
The question is going to start with “Was your child hurt?” Then you have to ask, “What prompted this behavior from the other child?” Then you need to talk to the parents, and POSSIBLY talk to the child, though that may be for the parents.
If your child seems upset or hurt (physically or emotionally) and the actions of the other child are concerning for the safety of others, it MAY be appropriate to involve the authorities, but you really need to be careful. What is the goal? To punish the other child? That’s not the role of CPS. To find out where the behavior is coming from? That’s something that the police won’t generally do.
In our situation, I talked to the other child’s mother. I suggested to her that if her child was playing “sex” (but clearly, and reassuringly did not actually know what sex was) she might want to talk to her kiddo gently and find out where she’d learned about sex and who was telling her about it. I had a long talk with my kiddo about appropriate touch, explained to her that that was not in fact sex (and she wasn’t curious enough to ask what sex actually was, so we tabled that part of the discussion unti she was, a few years later) and thanked her for being truthful with me. I did not punish her. We did not punish her friend but they stopped having unsupervised time together. Ever.
My 1 year old will latch onto anything and anyone who holds still long enough, including his babysitter, who was distracted once by a phone call and got her shirt yanked and her boob latched faster than she could stop him. She started wearing button downs and we laughed it off.
As for those who are “concerned” by a 2 year old latching onto a nipple without milk… the last 2 years of my older daughter’s nursing years, I had zero supply. None. She was nursing for comfort only, and I was taking medication that we didn’t know if it was safe for her, so she would actually stop if milk came out. And it’s still not “icky”.
My reaction to finding out a 12 year old had “breastfed” my toddler would be to talk to the 12 year old about nursing etiquette, and find out if she had questions about breastfeeding. Nursing etiquette says you NEVER nurse someone else’s child without permission unless you get into a situation where it is life and death. Those are rare and unlikely to happen to a non-lactating 12 year old. Overreacting could scare the girl off nursing for life. I would also have a LONG talk with my kid about “If someone ever says don’t tell Mommy, that is a sure sign that you really really need to tell Mommy, and good for you for doing so.”
I have 3 kids, one 19, one almost 8, and a one year old. I was actually molested as a child. My eldest had another situation which was far more questionable than the one with her friend, and far more upsetting, and the end result was that all the parents of young children in the family were alerted and my daughter never spent time with that adult ever again… but my reaction HAD to be based on the level of upset my child felt (some upset, mostly confusion, not damage) and not the level of violation I felt knowing my child had been touched inappropriately by someone I’d cared about. We took the necessary precautions to keep that person from being around small children unsupervised, ever, but did not make a legal case out of it because to do so WOULD have compounded the issue for my daughter. My reaction as a survivor was worse than hers as the actual victim… but I worked very, very hard to separate the two.
To those who think there “must” have been a sexual component for the 12 year old… Not necessarily. Curiosity alone combined with the poor judgment that age often has, combined with a family culture of body shame would be sufficient to create the situation, without there necessarily being a background of abuse or a sexual subtext. The big issues for me are the secrecy and taking advantage of the teachable moments for each of the people involved.
A member of my due date club has a little girl who is 9 months old and not babbling. Knowing a bit of my history with Shiny and Shiny’s language issues, she asked what I would do about it.
What I did and what I recommend doing are two different things. I was so overwhelmed with Shiny that a lot of things slipped by the wayside and were done later than I would consider ideal. What I recommend doing is getting her in for a hearing screen, insisting that they screen in whatever way they need to (they CAN screen with clogged ears, a bone conduction test will tell if the brain is hearing, and you can get an idea of how much hearing loss she has, if any, with the glue ear) and asking for intervention to be done sooner than later if she has demonstrable hearing loss.
Intervention #1 is to attempt to clear the ears. I would give this up to six weeks max, using antibiotics or whatever you need to do before shifting to something more invasive, like tubes. That may be all the intervention necessary if the only problem is glue ear.
Intervention #2 is to start using sign language with her RIGHT NOW. Get the Signing Time DVDs, your library may have them, or you can download them I think, also. Don’t worry if she doesn’t pay attention to them, YOU use them to learn sign vocabulary. Reinforce the major words you say to her with signs. Mama, Daddy, Eat, Milk, Sleep… etc. That gives her language reinforcement NOW, and makes sure that her language is developing by any means. Signing time makes sign language very sticky in your head.
Intervention #3, which I would consider if she gets to about 11-12 months without babbling, is to visit a speech/language pathologist. If they don’t have them for kids under a certain age, occupational therapy should be considered if it looks like she has motor planning issues for language.
We got Shiny talking with bananas, in part. We’d say, “Banana! MMMMM!” and she started going “MMM!” to get a bite.
You want to make her world rich with language. Talk to her a lot. Say things normally, repeat yourself simplifying, emphasize with sign…. Use songs, finger plays, food, whatever, to reinforce everything.
And don’t panic. There are kids who don’t say a word until age 2 or 3 and then don’t shut up, but it is very worthwhile to make sure that all systems are go before you decide she’s just not ready to bother yet.
What would YOU do or advise? Answer at the blog (jenrose.com) please!