Six year old vandal.


I love Mommy, Daddy. Secret Map.


A teacher from my daughter’s school called me the other day to report an “incident” involving my daughter at recess.

First of all, any phone call from my kid’s school sends my heart rate soaring with that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach that something is wrong.

Secondly, if the school has to call me in the middle of the workday, it had better be for a darn good reason.

So of course my mind started working as the teacher introduced herself ….

  • Did my kid hit another kid?
  • Did my kid get hurt by another kid?
  • Was there an accident on the playground?
  • Did she wander off at recess?

No actually, my daughter was found using a stick to scratch words on the outdoor gym doors.

  • Oh my god… were they bad words?

The teacher tried not to laugh.  No, they weren’t bad words.  They were, “I love you”, “I love mommy and daddy.” But when the girls were told that what they were doing was wrong, apparently my daughter burst into tears and was devastated that she got in trouble.  The teacher told me my daughter said, “I usually a good girl”.  The teacher said she felt awful after seeing my daughter’s reaction.  She made sure  to tell me that she felt my daughter understood the seriousness of what she had done wrong and had learned her lesson.

When I texted husband (who picked her up from school a half hour before the phone call) he had no idea what had happened.  Daughter apparently felt it wasn’t worth mentioning to her father. The had a talk and he sent her to her room and told her she could draw and write words on her sketch pad and read a book.

When I got home from work she was still in her room.  I asked her to tidy up her Barbie dolls and tended to the baby.  When I returned to her room, not only did she clean up the Barbie dolls, she also tidied up her room!!!  Hmm …. sucking up to mommy maybe?

I took her Barbie dolls away for the night.  There were no promises made on when she’d get them back.  We had a long talk about when and where it’s appropriate to draw and write.  We talked about vandalism and the consequences of it.  The school would have to repaint the doors and it wouldn’t be inappropriate for them to ask us to cover the cost (though I seriously doubt that would happen).  We also talked about listening to our instincts. After I explained what that meant, she admitted that she knew it was wrong to write on the door,  but she did it anyway because her best friend wanted to.  Her best friend ever! (She met this girl in September, remember.) I told her next time to suggest another activity.  She said she was dumb and stupid for doing what she did.  Yeah, she was, but I didn’t agree with her.  She’s six years old for heaven’s sake!! She made a mistake and hopefully learned from it. She’s certainly not dumb nor stupid.

But I am a little miffed with the school.  Back in my day, defacing school property probably meant detention right?  Do they even give detention in grade 1 anymore?


Caution: Allergies

Day 14 – January Daily Blog Posting Month

Thankfully, our family has no issues with food sensitivities. Husband has some mild ragweed and cat allergies but that doesn’t stop us from having two cats, nor does it really affect his enjoyment of summertime.  If anything, it’s a minor inconvenience.

For others, allergies are a significant part of their family. Having a child with an anaphylactic allergy is be extremely stressful, especially if it’s a food allergy and especially when that child is in school.  In the U.S., the incidence of anaphylactic allergies (be it related to food, environment, or medication) is estimated to be as high as 50 per 100,000 person-years.  There is a difference though between perceived allergy and true allergy, as this study in 2006 demonstrated.  Anaphylaxis is estimated to be fatal in 0.7-2 percent of cases (  Food allergies, particularly in the United States, is estimated to affect 6-8 percent of children under the age of five years and up to 4 percent of the general population.

Still, growing up, I don’t recall anyone having a food allergy.  Do you?

Last year, in my daughter’s JK class, there was another child who had a gluten allergy so we were kindly asked to refrain from sending any gluten or wheat products in her snack.  Now, the school is also nut-free (of course), so needless to say it definitely limited what we could send.  For example, I couldn’t send any crackers.  My kid loves crackers.  Sure, I could spend $7 on a box of gluten-free crackers, but I’m not going to on principle.

I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but why has our society deemed it necessary to alter school policy such that nuts and gluten are now banned?  What’s next?  Milk products?  Eggs?  Where does it end?  Why should my child not be allowed to bring a peanut butter sandwich because there might be another child in her class who is allergic?  My child knows not to share food.  She knows to wash her hands after meals.  If she were the one with a peanut allergy, she would be told not to eat anything that wasn’t sent from home. She would have an Epi-pen on her person and she would know how to use it.  And I believe at the age of five, she would understand that if she eats anything not sent from home, she could get very, very sick.  She knows not to cross the street without looking and without a grown up.

As a physician I am wholly sympathetic to the parent who has a child with an anaphylactic allergy.  I will sign whatever form is necessary for that child to be allowed to carry an Epi-pen.  But as a mother?  Totally different story.  Now, I do understand that if I indeed had a child with an anaphylaxis, I would likely be tooting a much different horn.  But I don’t have a child with an anaphylactic allergy and until I do, I will continue to be bothered by the fact that I can’t send her to school with a peanut butter and jam sandwich.  It’s not my problem that another child has a food allergy and I kind of resent that it’s being made to be one.  In the news recently, I heard that a mother in another city is launching a human rights case asking that her school district ban all dairy and egg products because her daughter, who is allergic to both, has repeatedly come home “wheezing” after being exposed.  I’m truly sorry for that mother, to have to deal with that kind of allergy.  It sucks.  It really does.  But if she wins this case, and now dairy and egg products are banned from all schools, what on earth are kids going to eat?

End rant.


Back in the Fall, I signed up to be a parent volunteer in my daughter’s JK class.  Then I found out I had to have a police check done.  I explained to the school that I was a physician and had one done via my representative College of Physicians but no, this wasn’t good enough.  So, I filled out the form and waited for official approval.

This was in October.  Week after week went by and week after week, I had to tell my daughter’s teacher that I still couldn’t volunteer until I was cleared.  She understood, obviously, and would always shake her head in that knowing way of “I know it’s B-S bureaucracy.”

I had all but forgotten about the police check when it arrived in the mail last week.  Yay!  I was finally cleared.  <insertsarcasticeyerollhere>

Earlier this week, I entered my daughter’s classroom as a parent volunteer.  Daughter was excited to have me there, wanted me to sit with her on the carpet, kept looking at me and waving.  It was very cute.

It was also an eye-opening experience.  An inside look at the behaviours of 4-5 year old children.  That classroom had some lovely children but wow, did it ever have some challenging ones too.  Maybe my kid was on her best behavior, but she was polite, did what she was told and listened.  Listened!!  She didn’t have to be told three times to put the book away (this is what happens at home).  I was a very proud mama.

The physician in me was partly focused on the “troubled” kids.  The kids that didn’t do as they were told.  The one child who took a 1/2 hour to put his shoes on, wouldn’t sit still during reading time, kept stepping out of line to bother other kids.   The other child who was left in the gym with the teachers because she refused to follow her classmates back to class.  The same child that grumbled a few unintelligible words at me and vehemently spat at me when I told her it was time to put the gym equipment away. She spat at me!  A few times, in fact.  I was dumbfounded. I walked away after that, only to find her following me.  I was really at a loss at what to do.

As terrible as this sounds, I am so grateful to not be that parent who has to deal with that kid.  I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be, embarrassing too, I would imagine.  Behavioral issues are extremely difficult to deal with.  I applaud my daughter’s teacher for her poise in handling these difficult situations.  And I want to give those parents a hug, and offer them a glass (or bottle) of wine.

Of lice and spiders …

I feel like a broken record.  It’s been busy.  Usually the end of the summer is slow and the first week of school is busy.  I’m not sure if it was the allergies, or the threat of West Nile virus, but the end of August was totally insane, as were  the past few weeks.  There’s been some pathology coming into the office, it always comes in waves, but I’m not ready to talk about it yet.

Daughter started JK and as expected had no issues with the transition. Getting her to talk about it is seriously like pulling teeth.  She’s tired at the end of the day, granted, and gives monosyllabic answers. I expect this from a teenager, not an almost-4 year old who otherwise doesn’t have an off switch.

I haven’t needed an alarm clock since having the kids, but I set one on my phone so we wouldn’t be late.  Inevitably, daughter is still snoring when my alarm goes off and grumbles and complains that she’s not ready to get out of bed for school yet.  And so it begins, right? I would have expected her to be sleeping in on the weekends, but she’s up even earlier!  WTF?  Can I not catch a break?!

The school had a “lice check” yesterday.  Just before she fell asleep, I asked her about it.  Suddenly she’s full of words! She said a nice nurse checked her hair for bugs.  “Bugs? Really, the nurse said the word ‘bugs’?” “Yes, I didn’t have any,” she replied proudly.  I vividly remember the time my mother scrubbed and pulled and scrubbed my hair when I got the dreaded lice.

I think it’s a rite of passage in childhood, much like chicken pox used to be.  Every kid gets lice.  I remember my mother threatening to shave my hair off when I came home with them.  My mother was a hairdresser, so I knew she could go through with the shaving of the head if she didn’t get on top of the lice.

I told her about the school checking  daughter for lice. She said  we could use a little gasoline-drenched lice comb to kill them if (or when) she gets them.

Come again?


Seriously? Gasoline for head lice? What on earth is she talking about?!  So,  I looked it up.  Yup, not a good idea.  Great info here.  I’m just gonna forget my mother suggested that, and make sure she never treats daughter.

Is anyone else’s scalp suddenly itchy??  Yeah, I thought so.  Let me change the subject.

Does anyone remember the Scholastic Book Club?  I totally forgot about it until this past week.  Husband called me at work and told me that in daughter’s “weekly take-home folder” was a brochure for Scholastic.  Yippee!!!  Suddenly, a whole host of memories came flooding back to me.  Sitting at the dinner table with my parents, picking out one or two books a month.  Anxiously awaiting the day a few weeks later when my package could arrive at school.

Ah, books.  I loved them growing up.  I still do.  I was so thrilled to see daughter circling the books she wanted.  She circled almost all of them, and mostly because the covers had pretty colours, or a princess.  But I was mostly proud of her circling this particular book:







I think I’m going to like this school thing.

Labour Day

As an adult, there’s something about September that always makes me a bit melancholic.  It’s the end of summer, the days are starting to get shorter, there’s that scent of fall in the air.

And oh yeah, it’s the start of another school year.

But I’m not in school anymore, haven’t been for 10 years.  Yet, the feeling is still strong with me.  So weird. I think I actually miss being in school.

Daughter starts JK this week.  It’s not that big a deal as she’s already been in “school” for the last year – preschool, that is.  Still, she’s entering the pubic school system and that’s a big deal, right?  All weekend long, the local talk radio station has been talking about the back to school thing and dealing with children’s anxiety about school.

Anxiety?  I don’t ever remember being anxious about the start of school.  I loved school.  As much as I hated to see summer end, there was a subtle thrill I felt every Labour Day evening as I gathered up my school supplies. I was both excited and scared all at the same time.  I never cried when I got dropped off at school.  I know there will be plenty of tears in my daughter’s JK class, but she certainly won’t be one of the kids crying.  When we took her to preschool, she ran off to the playground without a second glance.  I think she’ll do just fine at school.

I hope she loves school as much as I did.