Cars Not Required

Cars Not Required

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Happy 6th Birthday My Two Pound Hero!

I promised Torran, if you come home (from the NICU) I will take you to Disney. He did, we did, and Torran fell in love with Mike Wazowski. Disney Pixar's Monster's Inc and Monsters University are his current obsessions, including roaring/screeching and shredding doors.

We couldn't be happier!

So, for his birthday breakfast, I whipped up a Mike Wazowski pancake for my favourite little man. I can see the resemblance. Can't you?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

How Self-Injury Made Me Happy (Or: A Stupid Thing I did Reveals Torran's Progression)

Torran had a PD day yesterday. Bruce wanted to take him up to Disney Store to check out the Monsters University rain gear, last year's coat being split up both arms. Do I let the boys go alone? No way!

After taunting ourselves with Disney merchandise, we buy groceries from Wal-Mart and head home. 

I tried to get the groceries out of the car whilst Bruce managed Torran. The snowbank in our driveway prevented me from standing alongside the car properly.

Hands full and unable to reach the door handle at a comfortable angle, I reach in to slide the door closed. Our car has remote side doors (well worth the expense for times like this) but I'm uber-capabable Mum, right? I'll get that door closed before Bruce has Torran out of the car.

The door slid faster than I anticipated and I couldn't get my hand out in time. The bony part of my hand caught between the door and the frame of the van.

I screamed and dropped the groceries. The wrapping paper for Torran's birthday rolled under the car as I wrestled my hand from the vise.

I intended to get into the house to put ice on my injury when the pain overwhelmed me. I dropped to my knees and buried my hand in the offending snow bank. Cold reduces swelling. For the first time, I was thankful for this year's volume of snow. I suspected a fracture.

Behind me, I heard Bruce asking me what happened, what did I do, and Torran giggling madly that Mummy was kneeling in the snow making a funny noise.

My crying sounded like laughter to him. He came over with a big smile on his face, amused that I'd moved so irregularly and made such unusual sounds. It's typical behaviour for him and part of his trouble with theory of mind. His atypical processing prioritizes his feeling before that of others. If another child falls in a funny way, Torran laughs not because the child is hurt, but because the noise or movement seems funny to him. He's been in trouble at school for being inconsiderate. We've spend several teaching moments with me "re-training" him to say "that was a funny noise" or "are you OK?" in response to accidents.

As always, he wanted to know "what did you do?" coming into my personal space and laughing.

Then, UNPROMPTED, he started crying because I was crying (a lot).

This is amazing. For a person to lack theory of mind, my distress wouldn't be of consequence. It's not that he's mean or insensitive. It just isn't relevant to his feelings. At least it wouldn't have been before.

Torran cried and then got a little too upset saying he was hurt to. But that's an entirely separate issue. By then I could control my pain enough to get into the house and continue running my hand under cool water. Bruce helped Torran calm down and re-directed his growing anxiety ("Mummy is hurt, Torran is upset Mummy is in pain").

Eventually, we all chilled out and Torran hit me with another whopper.

"I want to put Bandaids on you to make you all better," he said.

Do you realize how amazing that is? Maybe you don't. If you have the insight or the lived experience, then yes, you do. And you're smiling as much as I am. Torran felt my pain and wanted to help me fix the pain even though his initial priority was his amusement of the situation. That takes a lot of internal control for self re-direction.

My hand hurts like a sunnovabitch, but my heart, well she's singing herself out!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pen Down Mum. Eyes on Him.

I stared drafting a post during Torran's swimming lesson about re-evaluating his Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and my thoughts about the TDSB's lip service to integration.

After two paragraphs, I looked up and I couldn't go back to my work.

During the lesson, I'm write as a means of distraction. I don't feel guilty that he doesn't have my undivided attention. Being occupied stops me from jumping over the barrier, rushing to his side and facilitating the lesson the way I think it should be done. Don't get me wrong, this season's teachers have been great with him (especially when he bashed one in the head during a goof off and it hurt them both!) considering neither is special needs trained, per se.

In the thirty minute lesson, Torran spends half of his time following his own motivations. Usually, this means not doing what the instructor asks of him. It was worse at the beginning of the year when all you could hear in the pool was Torran making noises of complaint or yelling "I... I... I..." as he told his teachers what he wanted to do.

I don't get mad about it. He's slowly learning his skills and he's having fun. Eventually, he'll learn how to avoid drowning. And on swimming nights, he sleeps well. His body really needs that physical drain.

Torran's cerebral palsy prevents him from straightening his legs for a proper flutter kick. It drops his bum downwards into the water, preventing forward propulsion. Today his teacher asked him to hold his arms out in front of him in an A shape and kick. With some assistance, he managed half the length of the pool!

It amazed me that he lifted his head from between his arms to take a breath like a "real" swimmer. His determination outweighed his frustration as he reached his goal (a floating pad). When the instructor let him climb on the pad, then capsized it, he didn't panic or choke. He found his way out from beneath the wide floating object with a laugh.

I wanted to jump and cheer in the stands saying "That's my boy! He is repeating the same level again next season and he's fantastic!"

My Superstar!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Line of Sacrifice

I started this as a story idea yesterday for Women Writer's Wednesday... then I got carried away and into an entirely new direction.

Line of Sacrifice

(c) Lesley Donaldson-Reid

The sky filled with angry snow. It wasn’t the kind of fluff that drifts to the ground like a ballerina, delicate and wistful. Every surface in the park succumbed to the invasion, including the line of women in red woolen robes, bundles clad to their chests, heads tucked down to stop the wind from freezing the tears against their skin. The demanding flakes sought to muffle the sounds of the newborn children before the cries prompted onlookers to interfere with the processional.

Not that anyone ever would. To do so brought the wrath of the Peacekeepers. Or worse.

Amara Castleford stood above the crowd, on a platform rigged for media crew. She longed to cover her cold nipped ears but she knew her knitted cap made her look too young for this serious a story. Instead, she tried to hide in the lee created by Nissam and his camera. She made him spend the night in the station’s van, waiting with her for the park gates to open before dawn, much to the jeers of her co-workers. Her plan worked to her advantage. They’d parked the cumbersome vehicle on an angle restricting other reporter’s views of the path’s end. From here, he would be the only one able to capture the reactions of the city Councillors. It wasn't the best leverage for her career, but it was a start.

This was the closest view she ever hoped to have. Amara lucked into covering the Winter Equinox Festival when her predecessor, the Queen of the news desk, suffered a devastating car collision. To make her mark, Amara tried to label the route through the park “The Road to Hell” but her producers shut her down before she took the term to air. In the waters, the people of the city see salvation, they’d said.

She didn't care whether or not her success influenced the underpinnings of the city. Amara wanted to be remembered for something other than being the last minute replacement for the Queen, even if it meant making some enemies in the business.

She nudged her cameraman in the ribs. “I think there’s going to be a runner. Check out the blonde, fourth from the end,” she said and took a surreptitious inhale on her cigarette. Nissam gave a non-committal shrug. Amara had ninety seconds to finish her smoke before her next appearance.

Like everyone present, the Peacekeepers would be focused on the women and infants. They’d likely turn a blind eye to Amara smoking in public. The bigger risk came from the people she watched from her elevated vantage point, and the mothers themselves.

Only the immediate families of the women lined the sides of the gravel road as it sloped to the water’s edge. It was safer that way. One summer, a human tide swept into the depths as everyone tried capturing the best image of what came from beneath the water. Hundreds drowned in the chaos.

Amara thought that this year there were fewer Witnesses than before. Small children wore the same white over-gowns as the adults who held them close, the youngest wriggling under the tighter than usual grasp. Only the faces of the Witnesses distinguished them from the snowy hillside, a red line drawn through the midline of their lips symbolizing the vows they repeated at the start of the sunrise ceremony.

Tearful goodbyes echoed silently through the Witnesses as the women clad in red paced slowly past their loved ones. At the end of the path each woman knelt in front of a low short granite table.

Seven years ago, there were so many women that some stood in pairs. This time, three empty spots punched holes in the crimson line. The water never froze at this point on the shore. Steam rose from the surface, creeping hungrily through the gaps between the stones.

To Amara’s right, a stage for the city Councillors provided the closest vantage point to the water’s edge without being within striking distance. The Leader didn’t sit among them, but stood among the Witnesses. His wife occupied her own place at a slab of stone. Of all the tables, hers had a white rose on it, the wilting petals barely visible in the blanket of snow.

He walked to face the women, careful not to disturb the water’s edge as he turned his back to the expansive space. Before he spoke, he held his wife’s eyes and placed a finger to his lips on top of the red streak that stained them.

“At the shortest and the longest of our days, we give thanks to the Waters,” his deep voice mismatched his short stature. Amara thought the sweat on his brown belied the calmness in his voice.

“We know that the mysteries of the universe cannot be explained. In technology we only have hope of recovery. But we must have faith that our sacrifice, your Sacrifice serves more than a purpose. The future of our city comes from each of you.”

Off camera, Amara tapped Nissam on the shoulder with a polished nail and pointed at the woman who caught her eye previously. Every citizen grew up watching the Equinox broadcasts. She knew the signs of a rebellious spirit. The blonde woman had walked the final row with her child upright at her shoulder, where she possessively rested the baby now instead of across her arms like the others. When she came to the tables, she kept her right knee up, barely perceptible beneath the gathers of the robe, except that Amara could see the tip of a hiking boot sticking out. The others wore sleeker ones with shallow treads.

“She might not. The Peacekeepers don’t seem concerned,” Nissam stated. Amara hated that his job didn’t require him to expose himself to the elements almost as much as hated that he questioned her instinct.

“Maybe they think it’ll be the Leader’s wife. Her child wasn’t supposed to born until next month. Rumour has it she tried to leave the city last week,” Amara whispered, checking first that her microphone was muted. She made sure no one around them could overhear her suspicions. Amara wanted the story of the blonde woman’s escape or failure to be hers alone.

Decades ago, women conspired during their last Vigil to run away from the waterfront as a group.  The Peacekeepers tried to stop them without harming the babies but there weren’t enough Peacekeepers to hold them all. A few managed to escape. In the news coverage, older Witnesses begged for the mothers to return. Within hours a tsunami tore away all the buildings in the harbour. Anyone within half a mile of the disaster zone drowned. Those who got away were arrested and their children brought to the next Equinox. Since then, the Councillors mandated that each woman in turn would place her baby on a table and then join her Witnesses.

From the waters, the Councillors sought peace.

The Leader wiped the snow off each cold slab and took the babies from the women’s arms.

“The people owe you their future,” he said to each crying mother.

He kissed the child’s head before placing it on the table. Amara’s eyes rapidly scanned from him to the blonde as Nissam stayed trained on the center of action.

By the time he reached his wife, the red line on the Leader’s lips had smeared. He traded the drooping rose for his child, red tinged tears spilling on his daughter’s forehead. He lingered longer here than with the previous six children.

The blonde woman threw off her robe as she launched herself from the ground. She’d fashioned it with a tear away clasp. Beneath she wore thermal leggings. She ran in front of the tables, her ankles splashing in the encroaching water. Her husband, standing at the end of row Witnesses, tackled the Peacekeepers with his rugby player shoulders as they started after her. He thumped into the ground with a several Peacekeepers underneath his bulk.

Amara spoke rapidly over top of the Councillors’ shrieks and the Peacekeeper’s threats.

“In a usual turn of events, one mother is running past the Leader as he holds his Sacrifice. She looks like she’s been preparing for this. A man, presumably the father, is trying to prevent the Peacekeepers from bringing her back to the Line of Sacrifice. Is that a… I think he might have a gun. He’s taking something from his pocket. It’s a… no. It’s an electronic paralyser. He’s launching probes at one of the Peacekeepers. He missed. This is incredible. She’s still running but now they’re gaining on her.”

The blonde slowed as she stumbled and attempted to right herself without falling or dropping her baby. Two leading members of the pack chasing her sensed her caution and found an extra burst of energy. One caught her arms whilst the other pulled the baby out of them. Amara barely made out the child’s cries. They were too far away.

“We have to get down there, Nissam!” she hissed. He looked at her with his free eye and raised his eyebrows.


“Are you afraid of a few rules?” She nearly broke her foot as she sped off the roof. Nissam landed more expertly on the ground beside her. He hauled a portable camera and wireless microphone from the van.

“She’s going roaming,” he said into his headset. To Amara he said, “They’ll switch us from the remote controlled cam when she’s almost out of frame as they walk her back.”

Amara narrated their path over her shoulder as they picked their way through the bewildered watchers, unseen by the Peacekeepers who were still dealing with the husky father of the stolen baby. As they approached, Amara clearly made out the woman’s pleas. She paused, allowing Nissam to capture it on camera.

“Take me, Leader Elect! Make me the Sacrifice instead of my boy. I only have one child. We lost his brother at birth. Please! Those women have a twin at home. I only have the one.” She collapsed to her knees and clawed at his trousers. “I can only have one.”

He nearly dropped his child. A Peacekeeper approached her, baton wielded to strike. The Leader raised his hand.

“Stand, good woman,” he said. He gestured to his wife, asking her to hold their daughter whilst he helped the blonde woman to her feet. “You know that we cannot do this. If we anger the Waters, they will exact their blood toll, as it has always been. Each Equinox, the Waters must have their Sacrifice. I’m sorry that you were unable to keep your other child. Technology helps us recover, but only when it is successful.

Yours will be the greatest Sacrifice.”

The blonde mother wept uncontrollably in his arms as he guided her back to her place in the Line of Sacrifice. Their footsteps sloshed through the approaching tide. A Peacekeeper gave the Leader the woman’s baby. He kissed its forehead and handed him to the blonde. She looked at her husband. The red vow of silence was completely eradicated from his face.

“I’m sorry,” she mouthed.

Restrained by four Peacekeepers, he yelled, “Tenna, no!”

“Ladies and gentleman, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Amara said, stepping back into the camera frame. “The woman who tried to run away and then trade her life for that of her Sacrifice is now holding him and sitting on the offering table like a bench, even though the Waters are rising up against the shore. She doesn’t look like she’s going to leave. Her husband is being removed now, in handcuffs. Our Leader Elect is returning to the ceremony. Of course, the other Sacrifices need to be laid out before the Waters arrive, or devastating consequences may result.”

The Leader looked at his wife and offered to take their daughter once again. She shook her head. He frowned at her. His wife kissed him gently, the red on his lips transferring onto her own. Her eyes met those of the blonde and tears ran down her face. She sat on the stone and smiled at her husband. The Leader’s wife held her daughter to her chest and a finger to her lips. The tide now immersed the women’s boots up to the ankle.

Amara spoke into her microphone in awed tones, “there are two women offering themselves up for the Sacri…just a moment, ladies and gentlemen. Another mother has taken up her Sacrifice and joined these two. Simply unheard of.”

Then a Witness came forward to hold her grandchild as the waves advanced. Before the water reached the underside of the table, each of the Sacrificial babies were claimed by a family member or a parent, save for three.

One of the Witnesses cried out, “women aren’t supposed to be the Sacrifice.” His family held him back, children clinging to his legs.

“What about your other children?” shrieked a mother in red from the large group of white bodies surrounding her.

“I don’t know what effect this will have,” Amara said, knowing her captive audience would remember this moment. She looked directly into the eyes of everyone in suspense on the other end of the electronic feed. “What toll will the Waters exact on this change in ceremony? As we all know, sometimes the Sacrifices die of exposure before the Waters rise. If they don’t get taken, will city Councillors allow these mothers to keep their Sacrifice?  What effect will this, an adult and a Sacrifice going into the Waters, have on our future? This is Amara Castleford with the closest and most detailed breaking information on this developing story. Stay tuned to Bellewind News, Channel Three.”

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Facebook Lookback: Let's Get Rid of the LIKE Button

Happy Anniversary to the company that keeps us connected and sucks up hours of our time: Facebook.

I'm really enjoying cruising through my friends' "Lookback" mini-movies. There's a distinctive appearance to the parent crowd versus the youngster circles, the "post-a-million-times-a-day" group compared to the "I-was-here-last-year-on-my-birthday" collective.

One thing strikes me with the bulk of the posts and photos.

Everyone is smiling.

We celebrate and cherish our happy friends and family in our happy lives and our happy accomplishments. If aliens downloaded the sum of our movies, they'd think that the Earth is the happiest place in the universe to live.

Let me be the token Grump here, but that's not our reality.

I've read many of my friends' posts where the comments reflect a sense of conflict about the LIKE button.

Do you want to LIKE that your friend's kid is having surgery? No. But you want to LIKE the end result.

When we LIKE a public admission of a depressive episode are we telling our friends that we enjoy their suffering? Of course not. We want to tell them him or her that we are proud that s/he is seeking help.

LIKE limits us.

LIKE narrows our opinion.

LIKE takes the endearing friendship and strips it down to a one second click.

Instead, I'd love to see people take a moment longer to COMMENT with words such as:
"you can do it"
"at least you got out of bed"
"recover quickly"
"I didn't know"
"that is fantastic news"

SHARE your happy photos, by all means. Don't be afraid of showing off your accomplishments. Use them to temper those days when you get kicked in the shins and LIKE just won't be enough.

We should write to Facebook and say, Hey Guys, give us a few choices here:

Feel free to LIKE this post.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

And Then it Hit Me... I Don't Have a Quiet Life.

I'm a mother, a wife,  a family member, a nurse, an aspiring author, a blogger, an employee, a self-employer, a parent adviser, a community participant, a traveler, a volunteer, a gym member, a leader, a teacher of subjects, a medievalist, and a creative hobbyist.

That's a lot to fit into 365 days.

2013 started with a juxtaposition: my son needed emergency brain surgery; a week later I delivered a four course medieval feast,  and accompanying scripted entertainment to 60 people three hours away from my home. Someone brought the event to my mind today. It seems so long ago.

...and then...

I started this post a week ago. You see, it's not a quiet life for me.  Five children's lit, two short story competition entries, fifteen chapters, one cold, several work shifts, time with kiddo and hubby and quite a bit of snow shoveling later, I'm still not finished.

Shrug. That's the way it goes sometimes, I guess.

Which is fine by me.

Friday, 24 January 2014

To Take a Step Back or Not? That is the Question

Torran needs physical activity to keep his behaviour on an even keel (so too, do all kids IMHO). We can tell by Torran's restlessness, mood, and ability to follow instructions whether or not he's had outdoor play at school. He sleeps better when he's had a physically demanding day.

He's not, however, terribly good or interested at any particular sport. Nor is he interested in group activities. Torran's age-typical and Autism influenced behaviourisms make it a challenge to find a mainstream program that fits his need for activity and social intergration - and our need to sleep!

This season, we registered him for two private swimming lessons because he gets more instruction out of the one to one learning. That's much more expensive, but it will be safer for him in the long run. He's also participating in a 4-6 year old class through Parks and Rec. It introduces the kids to a different sport each week.

Rather, the kids run around screaming for thirty minutes and then have twenty minutes of something that vaguely resembles instruction. Honestly, I'd rather they just let him run around for the entire forty-five minutes.

At the swimming lessons, I can take a step back and (with a little pre-coaching of the instructors by me and lots of priming for Torran) let the lesson unfold with much less hands-on than I did with the group lessons last season. It's not wholly successful, but he neither drowns nor fails completely at the task. The swim teacher getting frustrated when he focuses on something she doesn't want him to do, but I've interfered very little in the two weeks thus far.

We tried to stay out of the "Sports" class this time, too. Yesterday, I contemplated pulling him out of the class completely. All the kids mis-behaved at some point. Some worse than others. However, the two teens who supervise the small group don't seem to understand the simple needs Torran has in a group setting, even though I've made it quite clear. We spent last season in the gym with him to facilitate.

A basic example: It's more difficult for Torran to hear instructions in the gym because of the acoustics and his hearing aids. For fun, the girl sometimes whispers directions to the kids. More complicated to process as a leader is why Torran stands up to play duck-duck-goose by himself in the middle of the circle when the other kids can play properly on the outer edge. It's easy to manage - keep him nearby and guide him to stand up only when it's his turn. With consistency, he'll get it eventually. The kids sit on the large center circle designed for basketball/face off and there are huge gaps in the ring. It doesn't help either.

I don't know what to do. I want to expose him to everything allowing him to find the interests that drive his learning and social adaptation forwards AND show him what everyone else in typical society does for fun. But I don't want to waste my time and money on activities that not only fail to interest him but also prove maladaptive to the attempts we make at socializing him.

His age is part of the problem.; our location in the city is another. If we lived in the East end, we'd be a hop skip and a jump away from programs tailored to teach kids with ASD how to function in group activities. At present, Bruce and I won't travel across the city at rush hour to have Torran attend a dinner-time program and then schlep him across town for a late bedtime. We're not far enough into the West of the GTA to easily travel to other programs. And, I have yet to find a good group ASD program for his age group and functionality.

We're still wait listed for the sponsored local program he only gets access to once a year. (Insert sarcastic comment here)

Torran is much better at recognizing that his peer group are fun to play with. However, his idea of fun games do not often reflect those of his friends. They'll come for a playdate and Torran will insist on playing "Food Factory", his latest obsession. It's great imaginary play, but very limited for socializing without adult intervention. So, the kids get bored of him and scope out his toys for something else to do. Heck, I even get bored of it.

Sometimes, I wish he'd get hung up on super heroes or some other typical six year old toy. At least, that can carry him to adulthood, and if he gets beat up on then for playing with toys, his size may intimidate. I don't know whether or not chefs-to-be are picked on in junior school, but I have a feeling that's something I have to keep an eye on.

In the meantime, I sadly watch my miraculous child with the impressive brain and try not to talk myself out of giving him as much of a diverse childhood as I am... and I wake up at 3 a.m. nightly and tell him to stop talking about freezies and go back to bed.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

My Six Year Old Isn't a Perv

Torran returned to swimming lessons yesterday. He loves the water. Presently, the lessons encompass more fooling around than actual swimming, but I’m not worried. He managed a fifteen second dog paddle and didn't drown last semester. That’s good enough for me.

What will challenge him is the rule defined by an unknown decency council. A big sign on the women’s change room door reads: “Boys over the age of 6 must use the men’s change room”. Torran will be six in March.

Who decided that six year old boys are perverts?

Torran knows the parts of the human body. In addition to breasts and penises, he finds elbows and navels incredibly funny. It isn't unusual us to dash naked somewhere inside the house. For the youngest member of our family, it’s an opportunity to announce loudly “I see your bum bum!”… or just as frequently our belly buttons (for which we redirect his exuberance).

I’m not afraid of him looking at other people and asking questions. It means I can give him the answers that I think best guide him towards being an enlightened male. Nor do I think he gawks at other people for sexual gratification. He is as curious about the human body as he is about space, or trash compactors, or baking bread.

I am more concerned about leaving my young son unsupervised in a men’s change room than I am about his reaction to the girls and women around him. Not only does it give him carte blanche to have an exploratory play without Mummy’s supervision, it also leaves him unprotected against what a stranger could say or do to him.

Although I stay on guard for the latter, I know it’s the former that will be his biggest hurdle. Knowing Torran, he’d find the water flow in the urinals a fascinating water fountain. I also have to consider the risk of falls on wet surfaces because of his cerebral palsy, or if his Autism should interfere with his independent functioning.
He’s as likely to walk out of the men’s change room stark naked as he is fully clothed.

The family change room is an alternative for us, yes. We haven't used it. At a previous facility this particular style of room was always mobbed with families, hosting children of all ages. It had two private changing areas and long waits to use them. If the current facility’s family room is the same, I won’t use it. Wasting ten minutes waiting for private changing space for the sake of protecting another person’s Victorian dignity doesn't fit into my busy agenda.

This year, we’ll also work on helping Torran gain the functionality he needs for the independent use of a public bathroom or change room. Until he’s successful, I’m going to lie about his age.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

School Kids Tied a Boy to a Tree

I am a member of a parent advocacy group for children whose lives are affected by neurological disruption and damage. Today, catching up on my Facebook notices, I read that one woman's child suffered a physically and emotionally abusive event at school whilst supposedly under the care of his educational assistant.

The child was dragged out of his wheelchair by other students across the playground. He fell a couple of times but they relented, tying him up to a tree.

They F-ing tied him to a tree!!!

He was found there by his brother, NOT the designated responsible adult.

What's worse, both children felt too embarrassed and humiliated to report it.

How can this possibly happen in an age when we are supposed to be teaching our children to accept and be kind to human beings that are differently abled? Are parents that oblivious to the behaviour of their child at school?

I do not know this family personally, but I, and other members of the group, are infuriated at this horrific event.

This is not right!!!

So when you teach your child to be kind, be explicit. Show that it's ok to love people who are different. Make them hold doors open for people who cannot do it themselves. And for the love of humanity, tell them that IT IS NOT COOL TO TORTURE OTHER CHILDREN.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

How Disposable Are We?

A couple in the UK killed their child with methadone, a medication used to treat cocaine addiction. On the night the child died, they were out at a pub, took the child home after they were asked to leave by the owner, and sat about drinking vodka.

These individuals had a problem and then they failed to provide enough care and safety to an innocent child.

Children cannot replace an addiction or heal you from one. If that's the reason why you want a child, then you are doing that child a dis-service. Worse, you may do that child harm - even if the child doesn't die.

In our throw away society, have our children have become equally dispensable? One can have a child without spending any money after a mere 9 months of waiting. And if that child is not quite what you want, or doesn't behave "properly" then the child is cast aside. It happens. And there isn't enough money/staff in children's support services to protect them.

Poisoned: Police found a small measuring cup with traces of methadone on it, which the parents used to administer doses to calm their son 'like Calpol'

Christmas is Coming

Friday, 29 November 2013

Black-Eye Friday

You know, I get it. There's the thrill of the bargain. The practicality of saving money. The rush of being first to enter a store.

But is it really worth the risk of physical injury or legal prosecution?

I know Canadians will be pointing their fingers south saying "shame shame" But let's be honest, folks. In many areas, we're not too far behind our Southern neighbours.

We've adopted the tradition. It may not be long before we inherit the aggression.

Marketing serves a purpose, I'll grant that. Are we that depraved a culture that one day of sales (and I know not all businesses actually had stuff marked down) means we throw decorum and kindness out the window?

As demonstrated by some "normal" people today, we have become worshipful of STUFF. As such, we allow it to deprive our sense of life fulfillment so much that a discounted piece of technology is worth harming another human being.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth, except during a sale.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Before You Get Cancer, Talk About It.

A woman approaches me with her father. He doesn't speak English and she needs to translate for him at the hospital. She describes his symptoms with proficiency, having been his medical advocate several times in the past. Then she mouths the word "Cancer" to me, whispering, "he doesn't know."

It makes me flinch on the inside when I'm asked to withhold information from the patient by a family member, especially when the gate keeper has the power of language to maintain that control.

People have a sense of entitlement to their health and bodies, and rightly so. Often, the information holder claims to be protecting the well being of the diagnosed family member (likely a father or grandparent). I struggle with the dichotomy this presents, as do other clinicians.

Here's my suggestion: talk about what could happen BEFORE it occurs.

Tell your family what you want to know, what expectations you have for treatment and what you want the end of your life to look like. It sounds like macabre dinner chat, but there is meaningful purpose to this kind of discussion.

No one wants to have cancer. It is a horrible disease that rips children from parents, and renders holes in the hearts of friends and families. Talking about it won't cause the disease, but it might help with facing the emotions of a diagnosis and difficult decisions that come with it.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013



A Year of Loving at Midnight

A Year of Loving at Midnight

It’s a long way down, the fall from this height.
The safety net is gone and your pretence abandoned.
Now the real fears emerge.
Inchoate hopes challenged by the apostasy of the same
Fate that brought you together.
Self-doubt pecking at the joy in the refulgent smiles
Captured in every picture of your embrace.
Hold on to the tender moments.
Wave a red flag at destiny’s charge.
Dare to possess that bliss of which you dreamed.
Let go.
Parade in the unknown.

July 2002
Lesley Donaldson-Reid