Showing posts with label Kevin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kevin. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Who You Calling Crazy?

Right from the get go, I knew Kevin was different. While his friends played with age appropriate toys at 3 years old, he intently watched "Bob Villa's Home Again." and almost removed the oil pan from one of our cars when he was helping his Dad.

At 4 he took apart every toy he owned, and then put them all back together and fixed some. When he was 7, he was so into engines that he taught himself how they work-by 8 he learned the entire periodic table. To say that sometimes this drive to know things scared us is an understatement; I ceased being able to answer his questions when he was around five.

This inner drive to know has propelled Kevin through life in ways that have never been conventional. While his friends played video games, he was building them on his laptop. He has never, ever, had the same interests as his peers or been into the fads that permeate childhood.  Through it all, we always have wanted him to just BE. Be happy. Be himself. Anything else was gravy, really.

The thing is, society has some pretty defined perimeters. To be successful, you need to graduate from high school, find a traditional job in a building that provides a regular paycheck, and go to post secondary education.  That's the road. That is how you are judged by peers on the ladder to success.

Like anything he has ever done, Kevin is turning that on it's head. His peers call him crazy. Some have outright said he is a loser.

"You live in your parent's office with no job or post secondary plans," they say. "Your dream is a fantasy," they sneer.

Just like the kids in the school yard, they mock what they just don't know or understand.

Kevin still lives with us, yes; like most people his age because it would be crazy to move out to your own apartment when your parents have room and are willing to allow you to stay. Why not save money? Free food, hydro, internet connection? With the cost of housing so high it only makes sense and we specifically moved to Chilliwack so that he could live with us once he graduated. Why not? Of course, he's paying rent now but still-even at that, it's far cheaper.

University is a good option, but not the only one. A degree doesn't automatically mean a job, and you end up with huge student loans to pay. One can take courses online from universities now, and some job prospects actually like to have students who are fresh and teachable, rather than filled with years of education and no experience. School is always an option; it doesn't mean you must do it immediately when you are 19. Not everyone is ready or even able to hit university straight out of high school, and there is nothing wrong with that. I didn't go until I was 20, and John didn't until he was in his 20s as well. The trades are also not a second choice or something that should be looked at as 'lesser' than other more academic careers, either. Mike Rowe wrote about this in Popular Mechanics magazine and I like the article so much I brought it home and showed it to Kevin.

So if you aren't going to school, then you should obviously be working and being productive, right? This is where Kevin turned things on it's head because he's nothing like other kids his age. In Sechelt, it was hard to get a job because the town was so small there were few jobs available. In Chilliwack, it's different-but unsatisfied with the kind of jobs he could get, Kevin went ahead and created his own. He watched me over the years, dreaming of writing and unsatisfied with the jobs available in my field. I worked hard to forge my own path with writing and did fairly well so he took that example and then forged ahead in his own path; not with writing, but instead in the world of finance and bitcoin.

Kevin owns Paradox BTC. We've watched him work countless hours trading, networking with banks and businesses, and getting his name out there. He's been quite successful and his ideas have captured the interest of some pretty important people. He has a deep entrepreneurial spirit, much like his Dad, who has also been a small business owner. Kevin has forged ahead with something that he has created, in a field that he can excel at.  I won't lie; there have been times where we have wondered what he is doing or where this is taking him, but we're seeing that he is doing well. Success is an interesting thing; is making loads of money successful? To some, maybe. Success can also be defined in loving what you do and personal satisfaction. If you are an educational assistant (which is what I do), you may not make a pile of money but be very happy with your job so that is enough. Is that success? I think so.

Is working in the bitcoin field traditional? Not in the slightest. You should see me trying to explain this to people who ask, and then assume that I have a man-child hiding out in my darkened basement, playing with computers. Yes, he spends hours in our home office. You need to in order to run a business. Do I think he should be out slinging fries at a fast food place, or being a cashier? No. It's not for everyone and to think that everyone has to take the same path to success is narrow minded. Both John and I look back at those days when we were young and the dreams that we gave up because they seemed too crazy, too impossible, with a tinge of regret. Neither of us had the support to chase what really made our soul fly; money and logistics were in the way.

Now is the time to chase the dream, when you are young and able to, rather than leave it and then look back when you are 40, wishing you had. Sure, it might be a crazy dream. It may not turn out to be anything more than a learning experience.  The interesting thing is, while I dreamed of writing, nobody told me I was crazy. They didn't insist that I go back to university and study English or get a journalism degree. Nobody once told me that my dream was far fetched, even though these days there are millions of blogs and competition is fierce. Even though in the end, I decided that writing was more of a hobby for me than a job.

Perhaps my peers know the sting of a dream never explored and how crazy it is not to chase one when you have the opportunity, unlike the shortsighted young peers who sneer at Kevin. Sure, it's quite possible that bitcoin could go nowhere.  On the other hand, what if his dream turns into something big?

Either way, he has some pretty proud parents. Go get 'em, Kev. xo




















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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Kid Eats Everything (Almost)


Today a question during Food Revolution's weekly twitter party made me think.

"What food," it asked, "do you or your kids NOT like, and why?"

I scooped up the laptop and wandered into Kevin's room to ask him.  All I could see were his long, teenage boy feet sticking out of the closet as he played with computer parts to get whatever the contraption is in his closet working to his specifications.

When I asked, he sat up and thought, brow furrowed, for a few minutes.

"I can't think of one."

"Oh come on, there must be something you don't like.  Tofu?"  I couldn't resist angling for the food that I personally have great distaste for.

"No, that's not so bad in some things."  I recalled the marinated tofu in some of the Asian dishes we enjoy when we visit North Vancouver, which he eats with gusto.

"Liver?"  I know before he nods that yes, liver it is.   I remember the day that I saw a recipe for breaded and fried liver, with the photo making it look so enticing I decided to try it.  I was trying to cure myself of the liver and onions of my childhood, so abhorrent that I refused to eat it.

Maybe my tastes had changed?  I purchased liver and prepared it just like the recipe said, hoping that my attempt would be dinner-worthy.  I had visions of us all eating and loving this dish that as a child, I just couldn't stomach. Four year old Kevin wandered into the kitchen and looked at what was in the frying pan.

"What's that?"

"Oh, it's beef," I lied.  If I tell him it's liver he won't eat it, so technically I'm not lying per se, because it is beef liver after all, right?  Oh, don't judge me.  I know that you all lie to your children when it comes to vegetables and getting them to eat.  A little white lie never hurt anyone.  We used to tell Kevin that broccoli was miniature trees, or that carrots would make him see in the dark. 

Dinner was served.  Kevin cautiously took  a bite of the liver, chewed once, and stopped.  His little face began to squelch.

"Honey, what's wrong?"  I hadn't dared to taste mine yet.  I was procrastinating-possibly about to chicken out, but it was a little late by then.

"It tastes kind of funny," Kevin isn't chewing now, but rather looking at me for a signal as to whether he HAS to chew, or is safe to spit it out.

"Don't be ridiculous, beef is delicious.  It's amazing.  You love it!"  I saw off a big chunk, pop it in my mouth, and begin chewing. The familiar taste of liver filled my mouth.   Oh, no. This isn't better, this is JUST how I remember liver.  Oh, YUK.  Kevin watches while I run for a napkin and spit it out, then literally wipe my tongue on the napkin as if the action will rid my body of the bits of liver left behind.

He promptly spat his onto his plate and watched me, wide-eyed.

"Mommy, I don't like that," he measured his words softly, then looked up at me for reassurance.  He was hoping, I think, from my dramatic refusal to consume the liver that he too, might be exempt.

He was right.

"Sweetie, Mommy won't eat it-and my new rule is that if Mommy won't eat it, you don't have to either."  

"What, you aren't eating that?  I'll have it."  John's fork skewered my piece of liver as he maneuvered it to his plate. "This is really good, I can't believe you don't like it."  John, the man who lives on peanut butter sandwiches, chicken, and salad, whose list of acceptable foods is about as short as what I won't eat, devoured the liver with glee.  Kevin and I were dumbfounded.

There were few, if any, dinner time battles in our house when Kevin was small-but that one, we agreed, was just a lost cause.  Sometimes dinners from our childhood just need to stay there. 

Especially when it's liver.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kevin Learns to Ride a Motorcycle, Part 2

Ever have a weekend where it's so packed that it just flies by, and before you know it Monday is roaring down on you while you wonder what the hell happened?

That was my weekend.

First, we spent the weekend in Vancouver because Kevin had more motorcycle classes-which involved actually getting ON a motorcycle and driving it around a parking lot!



Motorbike school


He looks so excited, right?  In the class he learned about shifting gears, turns, U-turns, stopping, getting his speed up, and more.  An obstacle course was set up in the parking lot with cones, and the guys in his class were put through all sorts of exercises.



IMG_0694


Look at that concentration. Can he weave through the cones without knocking one over?  The first day it rained and while it wasn't that nice out, it was probably good practice to be out on a wet road.

By the second day, Kevin was ready for his skills test.  A skills test doesn't mean he has his license, but it DOES mean that he knows enough that he can ride by himself while he's got his L.  Which, of course, he was advised NOT to do.



Steve teaching him


Steve, the instructor,  giving Kevin some tips.  The first time he took the test, he kinda didn't pass it.  Oops!  He worked at it awhile longer, then re-took the test.  Kevin's main issue is that he doesn't go fast enough. 



Skills Test


Bob, the owner, gives Kevin his second skills test.  This time he passes!  WHEEE!

Now Kev just needs to practice a lot, and then go back to Open Road to do a day where he is actually riding around in traffic.  They will get him all ready for his road test, which I think gets him his N. For now, we'll stick to having him ride around parking lots.

That is, if I can keep my guys from buying yet another motorcycle.

Open Road Motorcycle School has not paid me, given me a discount, or even asked me to write about them at all.  My opinions are entirely my own.  What I have loved about this course is that the class sizes are small, Kevin gets a lot of 1 on 1, they are very concerned about safety, and also that he has fun. They are also super friendly and Kevin has loved the time he has spent there.   I highly recommend them!
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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Learners, Times TWO

Kev and his Learner's!


When you are a Mom to a teenager, you expect these things to happen.  They turn sixteen and they want to drive, so they go out and get their learner's license and gaze longingly at your car.

Only Kevin, since he never does anything the easy or usual way, also got his motorcycle learners because we're putting him through a course for that, so it makes sense.  Isn't the motorcycle one cute?  It's so tiny!

My first driving experience was on the way to church one Sunday.  Dad simply threw me the keys, even though I had never sat in the driver's seat before, and got in the passenger side.  I don't actually remember a lot about learning to drive, except eventually getting out at one point and refusing to get back in.   My Dad and I didn't get along too well when it came to driving training, with him either yelling or criticizing, and me being anxious and defensive.

It only makes sense then that John teaches Kevin how to drive, then.  Each day they go out for a little roll around the blog and I come home to stories.

Kev: "Mom, my feet are SO BIG that they were on the brake and the gas AT THE SAME TIME."
John: "Ya the brakes were so hot after you could smell them."

Kev: " I accidentally put the car in fifth instead of third, and we went really fast down the hill."
John: "He gets all panicked if there is a car behind him.  I thought he might hit something"

Me: "Oh so I can't pick you up but why don't you and Dad drive there and then he can drive home?"
(Kevin looks stricken and begins to stammer.)
Kev:  "Um...I don't think so.  I haven't gotten the car out of second gear yet. "

Something tells me that this is going to be a LONG spring.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Three to Sixteen

He sat across from me in Milestones as we chatted over burgers and yam fries, laughing about his day at motorcycle school.  I had left him there that morning, thinking that this was about becoming a man and growing up-no guy wants his Mom around while he's with the guys, even if it's in a class where he's the youngest.  

Still, the thought of him on a busy road on a motorbike freaks out the Mom in me.  We're not there yet, I reassure myself.  Not quite, but soon.

Sixteen years ago when I was pregnant with him, people who came to my baby shower wrote letters for him for his 16th birthday.  They were full of predictions that Kevin would be riding his own motorcycle, and while back then it seemed so unreal, here we are.   It's such a long way from Legos and playgrounds, sandboxes or chasing bugs.  In some ways, it makes me a little sad.  How did all these years go so fast?  When did he go from playing with Hot Wheels to getting his learner's license?

Today  I was in a Starbucks, sipping coffee and killing time before I had to pick Kevin up from his motorcycle class, when a small boy about 3 years old sat across from me.  With brown curls and devastatingly blue eyes, he tried unsuccessfully to open his juice before holding it out to me with a plea to help him open it.   Only thirteen years ago, that would've been my small blonde boy with his ever present stuffed black dog, wandering through Starbucks and nibbling on an oat bar.

Oh, those years go fast.  It's a little hard to be letting him out in to the world, bit by bit but here we are, teaching him how to drive, talking colleges, and more.  He's almost all grown up now and sometimes when I look at him, I catch my breath.  Those days seem so fleeting now, but every now and then I'm reminded.

Some time later, I stood in the doorway to his room, calling Kevin to dinner.  Surrounded by electronics and computer parts, he tinkered with an old amp that he's been fixing these days.  As I watched, I couldn't help but smile.

From his bed, watching over it all, was his stuffed black dog.
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Teen is Going to Motorcycle School

Last weekend we ventured over into the city and trekked all the way out to the Abbotsford Trade Ex Center for a Motorcycle show.  It always makes for a long day, heading that far into the valley, but John was determined since he missed it last year!

Our bike is currently in storage because it's far too cold out to ride, but it was fun to look at all the accessories and things that we could get.  I'm not up for a pair of leather chaps, thanks.  Or a skull motif ring.  However, I did want one of these:


Scorpion makes a great selection of women's motorcycle gear, and I absolutely love my jacket and pants by them (completely unsponsored statement).   Apparently I have a really weirdly shaped head and the helmet that we initially bought just doesn't fit me well. A seam from the fabric presses into my skull, and after about 45 minutes it literally feels like I have an ice pick being driven into my head - which really isn't the greatest when you are on a long ride! The visor on this one is really appealing, as is the more open air feel to it.



IMG_0477
Na, we aren't buying him one of these. Don't worry.


We wandered the Trade Ex among the booths before finally stopping and committing the one thing that I think has cemented us in Kevin's mind as the coolest parents on the planet; we signed him up for motorcycle lessons.

People really are opinionated about giving your teen motorcycle lessons.  Hey, I get it if you've never been on a motorcycle and the only thing you know about it is someone who died riding one.  Perhaps it would seem akin to allowing your child to play with matches and explosives.  However, for us it's a little difficult to tell the kid "No, you CAN'T ride one" when we do all the time.  Besides, he plans to buy himself a bike eventually so we think it's far more responsible to make him take a course and learn how to ride it properly when he's 16 (and easier to influence his habits) than when he's 20 and just does it on his own.



IMG_0478
This one's pretty, but I'm happy being a passenger. Honest.


By the end of the summer, we'll have another fully qualified motorcyclist in the family, and I'll be bringing you the details on what learning how to ride is like!
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Cookies: A Cautionary Tale

Chocolate chip candy cane shortbread, butterfinger truffles, and maple butter tarts are lovingly baked and tucked into the freezer for Christmas.  With only three of us, it seems to make sense to bake ahead because there's no way that we need a pile of treats at Christmas, right? Bake, have some to eat, keep some in the fridge, we're good to go!

I reach my hand into the frosty interior of the fridge and pull out a tupperware that only a week before held three dozen of the most delectable chocolate ganache coated and candy cane sprinkled shortbread.  Wait, it feels light.  Really light.  The lid comes off and there's one lone cookie-a stray really, which was missed when I was coating them with chocolate and carefully sprinkling with crushed candy cane.

A single plain shortbread cookie is at the bottom of the tin.

"You are them ALL? All three dozen?"

"You're going to make more, right?  Those were so good."  Kevin munches his pizza at the dining room table.

Either I need to bake more cookies, or just stop baking at all until December 22nd.

Do your kids eat all your Christmas cookies?


Check out Tasty Five over at Chasing Tomatoes for some fantastic cookie recipes, and details on the Food Revolution Twitter Party I'm guest hosting on Tuesday!
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Embarrassing Your Teen In Three Easy Photos

photo1


Kevin: "Mom, can you take a photo of me for my website?"

Me: "You really need a hair cut. Say 'cheese!' No really, smile, dammit. Not like that. Not like you are constipated. Think of girls. "




photo2


Kevin: "Uh, Mom? Why are you still taking pictures? And stop mentioning those girls I like."

Me: "Why not? You're smiling aren't you?"



photo3


Kevin: "I can NOT believe you just said THAT to get me to smile. You are SO WEIRD."

Me: "You're a guy.  I knew THAT would make you laugh."
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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Label Doesn't Define You

This morning, I was reading a post over on Babble by Wilson Diehl about how her daughter's "average" development stresses her out.

Go, read.  I'll wait.  I almost commented this morning, my fingers hovering over the tiny keys on my iPod, until I scrolled down and read what other people had written.  God, people are awful.  I decided to come here and write my response, in my own safe space so that I don't get completely skewered. Why? Well, read on.

My kid is gifted.  Not just smart, not just kinda ahead or slightly advanced, but full on, you can't miss it, people meet him for five seconds and tell me...GIFTED.   And it's no freaking picnic, either-for me, or for him.

When Kevin was seven years old, he was diagnosed as gifted learning disabled. I had no idea what to do with a gifted child-maybe there were resources, right? Does this just mean he's smart? Should I be proud? What the heck is gifted, anyway?   In a new community with no friends, and only my Yahoo Chat group to turn to, I logged on and began to ask questions, only to be immediately flamed out of that chat room by people I had chatted with and thought I knew for the past 3 years.

"How DARE you say your child is GIFTED.  Every child is gifted, you are just some elitist bitch who wants everyone to think that your kid is better than theirs!"    Um, no.  I was desperate.  I needed answers.  How do I keep up with this kid who asks me about molecular structure of Carbon when he's seven?  A kid who can't even tie his shoes yet, who understands subjects like death in a way far beyond other kids his age but can't emotionally process it?  What do I do for him socially, when he tries to converse with friends and they have no clue what he's talking about, and he has zero interest in age appropriate games like Pokeman?  And why can't he write? Why is he so sensitive to noise?

Giftedness, in Kevin's case, came at a huge cost with something called dyspraxia.  Sensory sensitivities.  Social awkwardness.  Anxiety.  Never really fitting in with his peers, adults expecting far more than he was ready for, and people dismissing him like he's mentally challenged because his physical ability to write is in the bottom half of the 1st percentile. Can you even wrap your brain around how hard that must be to deal with, especially in school?  I would go crazy.

As his parent, I felt so alone.  If I went to a learning disabled group and mentioned giftedness, people would respond as though I was bragging.  If I went on gifted forums and mentioned a learning disability, people acted as though my child couldn't be gifted because... obviously.

On top of that are the camps who don't believe that giftedness exists at all, and instead "all kids are special", to which I say, no.  No they aren't. (Edit:  They are all special, yes. But not all are intellectually 'gifted') Because until you have really lived with a truly gifted kid, you just don't know.  You have no idea what it's like to take on that driving curiosity that is so all consuming that everything is a puzzle, a question, something to be learned.  The curiosity becomes an animal that must be fed in staggering amounts day after day, never letting up for a second.  The drive is so all consuming that if you even TRY to stave it off, it is as though you are literally starving the child.   This isn't a kid who simply loves to read and knows their ABCs, but a child who wants to know where ABCs came from, and then what other languages say, and where they came from, and then how ancient civilizations wrote things, and why papyrus or stone tablets were used, and how do you make papyrus, anyway? And....you get the picture.  It never, ever, EVER ends. I have found myself tiptoeing into Kevin's room to pry books from his 11 year old hands-never some fun novel written for his age group, but John's third year psychology textbooks or some Chemistry 11 book I had brought home for fun. (Edited to add:  See, we celebrate and hold up the gifted/talented young singers, musicians, actors, artists, and athletes, but if you are intellectually gifted/talented?  We have to hide and talk about it in hushed tones, lest we offend someone.  To which I say-BAH! This is who he is, and I'm not hiding it. Am I proud? Sure.  But I'm proud of the person he is, not of grades and silly numbers.)

There have been days when I only wished for mediocrity, for some shred of normality in Kevin's school experience so that it was easier not just for him, but for us.  I was tired of fighting with people who couldn't understand the Herculean struggle he has to write, because what comes out his mouth is so staggeringly different.  I wanted him to really blossom and be himself, but schools aren't made for gifted kids.  Can't work ahead, must be slotted into perfect boxes, must conform. Kevin never has conformed in any way, for anything. Back then I didn't really know what to make of the labels. Now he's almost 16, I know that the labels don't define who he is at all.

He is simply Kevin.  And he's AWESOME.

(Edited to fix a few typos.  Oops!)



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Monday, September 05, 2011

Targets of Hate


Syndicated on BlogHer.com

She was thirteen years old.

Standing in front of a room full of women at the largest blogging conference in North America, she told us in a quivering voice of how she had been bullied at one school, then the next, and finally online. They told her she was useless. Unworthy.

They told her she should be dead.

I had wandered into the cyberbullying session at BlogHer '11, not really planning to stay initially, but when she spoke I knew I needed to hear what was said, for Maiah just as easily could be my child.

Back in March, my son -- a sweet, soft-hearted, slightly nerdy, computer whiz who always looks out for the underdog -- became a target of bullies. For reasons unknown to our family, three teenagers that were once his friends concocted a story so bizarre that when their parent called us, we were confused. Surely they are talking about someone else?

Click to go to BlogHer to continue....
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We are Skipping Back To School

Color Balance


Photo by Jonathan Garcia

They caught my eye as I stood in line at the grocery store this week; binders in every color, fat markers and brightly colored boxes of crayons.

It's back to school time.

Eleven years ago, I sent my son off to kindergarten a bright eyed, cheerful kid who was so excited about school and learning that he could barely sleep the night before. It's amazing to me how things changed over the years, from that kid that was so desperate to be at school to a weary, frightened one who asked if he really had to go.

For the first time since that initial back to school day so long ago, we are skipping back to school. Well-maybe not skipping it altogether, but doing it differently. I had not realized how much time and effort is put into back to school prep-going to the school to find your locker and pay fees, buying new supplies and clothes, and all the general angst that comes with it.

This year is different. There's no lunches, no labeling anything, no feeling that I must buy him shoes for gym or get a new lunch bag because the old one is worn out.

None.

All Kevin needs this year is an internet connection and his computer, where he'll learn math, biology, and computer programming in the comfort of his own room. Likely in his pajamas. He'll eat lunch with his Dad, and then see me again in the early afternoon. There will be time to go for long bike rides, trips to a local gym, visiting the public library, and more. I've volunteered to drive him anywhere he wants to go.

He may be at home, but the world will be his playground. We'll make sure of that. When he needs lunch, he'll just wander to the fridge. Nobody will question his computer connection, and there will be no hassle about printing his work or requests just to have access to wireless so he can send in assignments.

Over the last few months, if I had any reservations about how online schooling might go, the simple lead up to back to school has been reassuring. There's been no stress, no anxiety, nothing. Just a happy, glowing kid who is back to chomping at the bit to be learning again. If there's one thing about Kevin, he loves to learn. There's still time and opportunity for social, but it will be different. Healthier. He'll only have to be with the people he wishes to, rather than put up with the angst that oozes from some.

The spark that faded from those blue eyes is coming back to life, bit by bit.

I can hardly wait to stoke it into a raging fire.
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Monday, August 22, 2011

When You Feel Like the Bullies are Winning: For Kevin

Today, I'm making you soup.

I'm not sure if it's your favorite soup, but I do know that when I make it, you come bounding into the kitchen exclaiming about the wonderful smells that are wafting through the house. It's been a hard summer for you, and if making soup and fresh biscuits, taking you out to Vancouver to Food Network tapings or to pick up tomatoes to can will keep you happy and free from boredom, I'm all too happy to oblige.

Being a teenager is hard. For you, it seems, especially hard. I can't even imagine having to deal with what you do. After kids in the community made false claims about you then laughed in your face, I understand now why you don't want to venture to the corner store for a soda because perfect strangers come up to you and try to discuss the rumors. Or why you only visit your friend that lives a good drive away, which is just far enough from the jerks who have made it their sole mission to keep you feeling lost and afraid.

I know now, because I was with you on Friday. I saw the boy saunter up to us, give you a sneer, and begin taunting you in the middle of the produce aisle, while the adult male with him watched. At first I didn't know who he was, until you said his name.

My eyes narrowed, and I became the Mama Bear.

The kid and adult fast tracked it away from us once they had to deal with me, and were out of the store before I even knew where they went, but the damage was done. You didn't leave my side the entire time we were in the store.

The bullies think they are winning. Some days, like when I phone the RCMP to tell them our story, only to be told that the whole thing is very "conspiracy theory" and that "kids would never do that", I think they are too. People say that they can only ask the kids to stop, but nobody can make them. People who spout rhetoric about anti-bullying policy and tell me how there are going to be workshops soon for Social Services, RCMP, and schools on how to work together against bullying.

We know now that pink shirt day is nothing but words, and that those workshops are simply acts to make the public think that something is being done, when in fact it's not.

I've raised hell. I'm continuing to raise hell-there are letters to be written, complaints to be filed, and I'm employing everything I ever learned advocating for you with schools to make this stop. I will not back down until things are made right, no matter how long it takes.

I know it doesn't fix right now. I know you've hated this summer, being stuck in the house because you are worried that you'll run into someone who will beat you up the second you step outside the door, and so you've stopped hanging out with friends, being out in the woods, etc. These are the years where you should be out with friends and instead you quit doing everything you used to, and even left public school.

So right now, I make you soup because I know that it makes your day better, and remind you that you have something that those bullies don't have. Something that they probably have always longed for but has been unattainable, and is likely why they lash out at you.

You have two parents who love you beyond reason and will fight for you, no matter what happens. It will get better, and when this storm passes, you will look back and be stronger for it. We will never leave you to face this alone, and no matter what asshole gets in your face to make you feel small, we will be by your side standing tall because three are harder to break than one.

I promise.




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Saturday, June 18, 2011

We Go to Eat! Vancouver

Last weekend Kevin and I took off to Eat Vancouver, a fun food and culinary festival at the Convention Center right in downtown Vancouver. Neither of us had gone before, but we thought it would be loads of fun to check out.

The day started off on a weird note; as we sat in the car in line for the ferry, a small child in the car next to us whipped open their door and smacked the back end of my car. The door was opened with such force that it actually made our car shake. Hubs was out of the car talking to the parents, who were really apologetic, and we exchanged driver information for insurance purposes. My car now has a dent in it.

The parents were really, really apologetic and we assured them that things happen, little kids do stuff that we can't control, and not to worry-insurance will take care of it. Little did we know at the time, the other driver didn't have insurance. Once we arrived home and I called our insurance provider, they told us that the other driver bought insurance a few hours after the fact. Eeep!

The rest of the day went without a hitch. Kevin and I were smart enough to arrive very early, so we had lots of time to walk around and look at the sights by the Convention Center since we had never been there before.

Vancouver Convention Center


Those huge egg like things were art inside the building, titled "Floats". We thought they looked really interesting. Kevin was most excited about the whale and kept saying it was Minecraft, which made me giggle. For the first time we had a close up look at the Olympic Cauldron, which is actually really interesting-the whole outside looks like frosted glass.

Since we were early, we had loads of time to look through the whole Expo hall at the exhibits before the masses arrived. Good thing too, because each vendor had samples! It was like visiting Costco for lunch, although this was sample heaven. We wandered through the building, talking to such great companies as Camino, Stonyfield Farm, Kitchen Basics, Windset farms, Bosa, Nature's Choice, Maple Delights, Honey Bunny, and My Garden Footprint.

Eat Vancouver


At Bosa foods we saw the biggest wheel of Parmesan cheese ever, another company was doing veggie art with ceramic knives, and we sat through a cheese tasting seminar with the Dairy Farmer's of Canada. Camino was obviously my favorite booth as we sampled all the juices, then tried out their bars and chatted with Jennifer from @caminolala on Twitter. There were other chocolate vendors in the building, but Camino was our hands down favorite. The chocolate is SO good. Also, did you know that the farmers who produce it grow the cacao bushes with the fruit trees for the juices, so the trees provide the shade for the cacao bushes, AND it gives the farmer a better cash crop? I think that's so cool. Jennifer kindly gave us a mint bar to sample and we broke it apart, devouring it greedily, as soon as we were home. I think it would be so yummy if you pressed a square into the top of brownie bites. The juices are also really, really tasty.

Despite the bazillion samples we ate that included things like specialty cheeses, sausage, bbq sauces, honey, chocolate, and more, around lunch time we were hungry so we headed over to the Bite of Vancouver, where local restaurants had small servings of some of their popular items that you could buy with tickets. The first thing we decided to try was this drink with dry ice in it, which looked like something from a Halloween party.

Care for a Drink?


Then my son, being the ever adventurous boy he is, found raw oysters.

For the Love of Raw Oysters


He brought it back to our table, eyes shining.

"Mom, you have to try one!"

"Uh, no thanks, I'm good." I've had raw oysters before, not entirely on purpose. We were in Australia on our honeymoon, the restaurant was dark, and I didn't realize what I was eating until I'd already downed a few. Then I was a bit revolted. Cooked oysters, no problem. Raw kind of turns my stomach. Unable to convince me, he slurped that baby back like a pro and smacked his lips.

"Mmm, salty. Good. I want another one."

He ate THREE.

Loaded down with what felt like a bazillion samples and cute basket of fresh mint that I had won from My Garden Footprint.com, we made our way through the crowd chatting with vendors, sampling, and looking at cool products. It really was fun to meet the faces behind some of our favorite local brands. There was a celebrity chef stage, but Kevin wasn't that interested. When I asked, he simply shrugged and said that it wasn't Jamie Oliver or Michael Smith, so he wasn't interested.

I think I've created a monster. Oysters and chef preferences? Oy!

Or last stop was at the Boylan booth. While we don't drink a lot of soda, every now and then we like a really good specialty soda, and Boylan or Stewarts are our favorite brands. Kevin selected 4 to take home and carefully carted them through the crowd.

Boylan Sodas


At the end of the day, we retreated from the crowds to a quiet spot and sat looking over the harbor with bowls of icy gelato.

"Mom, this was so much fun," Kevin mused as he licked his spoon. "Can we do Eat! Fraser Valley too?"

I have totally created a monster.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Food Revolution Friday: The Last Lunch

When Kevin was in kindergarten, I packed his snack carefully; little cubes of cheese, cucumber slices, crackers, and maybe a juice box. I don't remember, to be honest. Over the years the lunches that I have dutifully packed every morning have blurred one into the other, all consumed and enjoyed, but eventually forgotten.

I've sent love notes.

Tucked in treats on special days, or made something really special that drew almost the whole lunchroom to his table.

Sometimes his treats were stolen by other kids, numerous times his lunch box destroyed when kids began kicking it around.

There have been days where I forgot to send cutlery.

Once I accidentally sent a tupperware of raw hamburger when I grabbed the wrong container.

A few times he forgot the lunch on the counter.

Once he dropped a container of soup in the hall and it exploded.

Over the years he has attended four different schools in three communities, and many days, the only good thing about his day at school was his lunch. I took pride in those lunches, because I knew they were my only way to make his day brighter. Those lunches were healthy. They were a piece of home he carried with him. They were ours.

It's been eleven years since that first lunch-now I'm an old pro at it. Veggies or fruit are chopped and tucked into containers in the fridge, or the hot meals in the freezer are ready to defrost and slip in the bag. These days packing a lunch takes about 5 minutes. I pack his lunch when I pack mine, mostly to make sure that my lunch is healthy. This morning ritual has taken place for eleven years, from September to June. The morning is always the same; the rush of getting out the door, me threatening to leave him behind, the frenzied cries of "where's my KEYS?!" (usually me), and finally, the sigh of relief as we both are in the car and backing out of the driveway.

This morning I packed his last lunch. Next year, it's online school for grade 11 and he will simply have to walk to the fridge to find himself something to eat. It's going to be a whole new world for both of us, with no rushing out the door, no threats of being left to take the bus, and no conversations on the way to school.

For the longest time, I thought I'd never miss those hectic mornings. I am happy-oh, so incredibly happy for this boy who has finally found his niche. We are so excited for the whole world of possibilities that are opening up for him, and I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled we are for him.

But as it is when you have only children, this last lunch is bittersweet because I realize as I pack it, that it is also the last morning I will chat with him on the way to school, then call "I love you" as I watch him walk up the stairs into the building. From now on when I go to work in the morning, my passenger seat will be empty.

Part of me doesn't even want to think about it.

I hope he doesn't mind a few tears mixed in with his vegetable curry.
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Cookie Crumbs: Lime?

We stood there, behind the ladies and their two children, as they spoke to the girl dishing out ice cream. I was secretly glad we had arrived at Eat Vancouver early because by noon, the expo hall was hopping with people all milling around from vendor to vendor, buying, tasting, chatting, and it was now to the point where there was little elbow room. We had noticed Canadian Maple Delights' booth early on and resolved to come back and try the gelato sweetened with maple syrup, which had been calling to us all morning.

The ladies in front of us were having a problem. We couldn't really hear what was going on, but they obviously didn't understand what the ice cream girl was saying. They kept pointing to one container of ice cream and chattering away.

"Lime?"
"Lime." the girl confirms.
"Lime?"
"Yes, lime. It's a fruit."
"No understand. LIME?"
"Yes, lime. Green. Tree. Fruit. LIME."

The other lady points to the ice cream as well
"What's that?"
I was beginning to feel sorry for the girl scooping the ice cream.
"LIME. L-I-M-E." She's being polite but is getting exasperated.

They still look confused.
"Lime?"

The conversation reminds me of the sea gulls from Finding Nemo.



Their small child, possibly reading the ice cream scooper's mind, grabs the bars of a rack next to the ice cream cooler and lets out a wild yell as he violently shakes it, sending the paper ice cream cups stacked on top flying in every direction. The poor girl jumps as the cups shower on her, but her smile never wavers. I'm impressed by her composure because by then I'd have been pelting people with paper cups.

The child's mom yells at him, there's chiding in different languages, and finally the scooper girl hands over a cup of ice cream and sighs in relief as they leave.

Kevin is next. He points to a pale green bin of ice cream.

"What flavor is that?" he smiles slyly.

"Lime."

"Lime?" He begins to giggle, stealing a sideways glance at me. I start to giggle as well and pretty soon, the whole line is chuckling.

"Oh, you cheeky boy! I'm going to give you an extra scoop!" She dishes a little more into his cup and hands it to him with a grin.

"I can't believe you did that," I giggle as we wander away through the crowd. Kevin slowly licks his spoon, savoring every last bit, and smiles slyly.

"What flavor did you get?"

"Blueberry. It's really good. How's yours?"

His eyes twinkle.

"Lime?"

(Have a craving for Lime Gelato? Check out this recipe at Epicurious.com. It sounds amazing!)
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cookie Crumbs: Parents Don't....

We're standing in the kitchen, surveying the mess left behind by my latest culinary challenge. I often make a big mess, and this time, there are dishes everywhere.

"There are so many dishes, " I sigh. Kevin recoils in horror.

"Oh my GOD! That's disgusting! EWWW!"

I don't have a clue what he's talking about. The dishes? Disgusting? I mean really, I hadn't gotten them done for awhile but they weren't that bad, really. I look at him, completely puzzled.

"Oh, I thought you said 'there's so many positions' ", he explains.

A sly grin flits across my face and I look thoughtful for a second.

"Well. There's that too."

"EW! GROSS! MY EARS ARE BURNING! YOU ARE DISGUSTING!" He runs from the room, hands covering his ears, and slams his bedroom door.

Parents of small children take note: quickest way to rid the room of your teenager is just to imply that you and your spouse might possibly, you know...have SEX.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thank You

Deciding to write Kevin's story about being bullied wasn't something that we came to lightly. It's odd how being accused of something, even when you are innocent, carries with it an element of shame. What do I tell people? That my son was accused of plotting homicide-I mean, what if they wonder if it's true? Or possibly that I'm a drama seeker? Trying to up my traffic? What if it affects my job, or Hub's?

The stress was enormous. Not just for Kevin, but for all of us.

For me, stress means I can't write at all and that is exactly why this space was becoming a bit barren, for awhile. I'd sit and stare at the screen, practically willing words to appear on the monitor, and none would come. I just couldn't, and what I wanted to write, I didn't know if I should. Some days I was so angry that I couldn't even look at twitter and resorted to going to bed. When we collectively agreed that I needed to write, it was like a weight was lifted and in one go, the words just poured out of my fingers as I sat and wrote all three posts until the wee hours of the morning.

It was done. You never know what happens, I cautioned them. It could be nothing. I could get trolls. It could go...viral. (shudder). We all knew, whatever happened, that things were already better. Lighter. The secret was out and we no longer had to be quiet.

How empowering is THAT?

Today when I came home from work, I read each and every tweet and comment to Kevin and John. We laughed with some of you, smiled, and I think my son was a little embarrassed at all the attention. Thank you, every single one of you, for reaching out and embracing him, and us, with love. I can't tell you all how much it means to me to know that people out there, people who I've met and some that I haven't, real life friends, twitter buddies, work friends, and more all see in my son what I see. It's not easy some days, being a mom. Knowing that you aren't alone, that people have your back, makes situations like the one we faced far less daunting. I have read every comment, every tweet, every note-and will do my best to respond to everyone. If I don't-well, I am scattered, so please let me know.

Kevin is doing well. He moved on to different friends and realized that when these things happen, you find out who truly are the people who will stick by you. He's also discovered rock climbing, and now spends his lunch hours on the gym climbing wall-which has kept him busy and doing something positive. I'm so proud of how he has handled himself and although he really would rather not be at school, he's determined to finish the year and then have a party to herald the end of his time in public school.

The choice of venue? Paintball.

"After all this, I think shooting stuff will be kind of relaxing, " he says.

Indeed.
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Sunday, May 08, 2011

For Kevin on Mother's Day

Fifteen and a half years ago on one snowy evening in December, you made me a Mom. I'll never forget when they put you in my arms, this tiny wiggling thing that looked at me as if to say, "I was comfy in there. Why did you make me leave?"

I was a little scared of you, at first. How the hell was I supposed to know what to do with a baby? When you were sick for the first time, I didn't catch on. Once I almost dropped you in the parking lot. We didn't figure out that your slow motor milestones meant you had dyspraxia. And of course, then there was the time I accidentally locked you, and the keys, in the car.

You sat in your car seat as I stood forlornly outside in the pouring rain, and laughed at me.

Yep. Parenting you kicked my ass. You know all about it, as I've been pretty open about the times I carried you kicking and screaming from playgrounds, daycare, or friend's houses. You asked me once why you didn't have siblings and in that moment, I almost thought that it was because I really couldn't handle any more children. Parenting is hard sometimes, you know. All you ever want is the best for your kids, but sometimes life just throws you curveballs that you can't control. You have to move, or people get sick, jobs are lost, and instead you have to make do with what you have.

Through it all, you never failed to make me laugh. You were so much fun when you were little. I don't tell you that enough.

I loved that by two you knew every staff member by name in our grocery store. You had the entire staff so charmed with those blue eyes that it used to take me three hours to shop, because you just wanted to visit.

You did the funniest things-from falling asleep with water wings on your legs (yes, your legs), to shoving lego up your nose that I had to remove with tweezers, you were always into something. Remember the screw driver and the $300 worth of plastic toys you took apart when you were four, and then put back together and fixed?

My favorite thing has always been just to hang out with you. Going to the corner store for sodas, the red roof for ice cream, picnics at the park, picking blackberries, museums, bike rides, and catching bugs have all been more fun because you and I did them together. I admit, I miss them a little-promise me that as you get older, you'll humor me a bit and we'll find some fun things to do together, okay?

You are grown now; no longer are you small enough to fit in my lap, holding my hand seems a little weird, and it takes more than some penny candy to make a bad day better. Instead we chase each other around the kitchen with peals of laughter filling the house, you treat me to coffee at Starbucks, and hug me so hard you can lift me off the ground. In four short years, you'll legally be an adult.

I'm not sure I'm ready for that. I still remember the baby you were. Sometimes, when you aren't looking, I do a double take at this almost-man in front of me because you have grown and changed so much, I can barely believe it's you. I want you to know that being your Mom has been the most amazing journey of my life-one that I wouldn't change for anything. You've taught me so much, and I'm so, so, SO proud of you. Over the next four years as I watch you become an adult it's going to be bittersweet, so please don't mind me if I stroke your hair like you are five again, or ask you to come to the corner store for a soda and penny candy. You will be ready for bigger and better, and I'll be so excited that you are going there, but every step there feels a little like a step away from me-which is how it's supposed to be, I guess. We raise children to let them go and for me, that is going to be the hardest thing of all.

This Mother's Day, the answer to your question came to me as we sat curled up on the couch nibbling on chocolate making fun of old Star Wars movies.

It was never that we didn't give you siblings because we couldn't handle the idea of more children.

It's because you are so amazing, you have always been all we've ever needed.

Love you,
Mom
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Monday, May 02, 2011

This is What Freedom Looks Like

The padded chairs in the conference room aren't that comfortable. They've never been comfortable. It's the fourth time I've sat in those chairs this year, and as I sat leafing through the Individual Education Plan in front of me, I realized that this could very well be the last time.

It's surreal, really.

No more sitting in conference rooms discussing IEPs, arguing that my child diagnosed with a physical disability should have class notes provided for him, no demanding that bullies be told to leave him alone, or trying to explain yet again to people who don't understand dyspraxia why he needs a computer.

Those days that I peeled him out of the car and then left the school sobbing, hoping for some kind of normal school experience, seem so long ago. One might think that the choice we've made as a family is giving up-and maybe it is. However at some point this year, after a particularly stressful situation that involved peers and wild accusations, we sat around the table in the kitchen and collectively decided we were done.

Kevin sits across from me, his bangs hanging in his eyes, this almost man who for the first time, looks like a bird about to be set free. As the meeting drones on, he begins to fidget. Finally, the moment comes.

"So I hear that you are thinking about doing online schooling next year? I asked around and was told to set you up with the District alternative online program. You might want to contact them about that."

"Actually we are going to register him with this really great online school we heard of that is in Vanderhoof. He won't be in this district at all."

Cue the startled look. This wasn't expected, obviously, but we're not finished.

"I want to do grade 11, and probably grade 12, online," Kevin flicks his bangs out of his eyes casually. "I can't get the courses I want or need here, and you know, after this year, I'm done."

He's done. He made this decision, really. The child who once feared school, then wanted to be rid of it forever, has taken charge of what he wants to do with his life and has decided that damn the system, the mediocrity, the people who want to stick him in a box. Damn the adult who told him that it doesn't get better or the the kids who bully him in the halls. Damn those who always put him down because he can't physically write like they do, and who may be good at school but are truly stupid when it comes to actually using concepts rather than repeating them from the textbook.

He's better than this place, he said. He can move on, reach higher, and be greater than they ever thought possible. He's already part way there, anyway. All he needs is a little more freedom, and he'll leave them in a cloud of dust.

"So, he won't be coming back, " I continue. "Not next year, and if all goes well, not the year after that either." He's flying, I want to shout. We're setting him free, finally. You have no idea how monumental this is, how I've lain awake at night wishing for this moment, thinking it will never come. I imagine leaping onto the large table and dancing a jig, whooping loudly to show my sheer joy at the very prospect that all of this complicated, messy, rule bound garbage is finished.

School, for the past 11 years, has been something to be survived. For all of us.

We walk out of the building into the sun; this time not mulling over next moves or what needs to be done, but rather with a sense of relief.

Kevin turns to me, his blue eyes shining with excitement, and breaks into a grin.

"Mom?"

I resist the urge to grab his tall, skinny, frame in my arms and tell him how proud I am of him. How advocating for him has profoundly changed who I am and while it was hard, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. How much I admire his drive, determination, and know that he is going to kick online school's butt.

Instead, our hands meet mid-air in a high five right outside the doors, in full view of the office.

We're done.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lunch Bans

A few years ago, when I went on a field trip with Kevin's class when he was in elementary school, I wrote about how one student was so determined to have a treat from the forbidden vending machines that she hid a pack of Skittles in her bra.

Kevin's school was part of a pilot project teaching kids about healthy food choices and exercise, which was, as a whole, a great idea. But there were times when I took issue with the messages my kid was coming home with. In my house, sugar is not evil. It's a treat to be consumed in moderation.

Lunches are, in my house, packed with care. I plan ahead what will go in them. I specifically bake for the week, freezing things to tuck in so that Kevin can have a treat to enjoy to make his day a little better. School is not a fun place for him, and so I make lunch as enjoyable (and healthy) as I can.

Which is why this article about a Chicago school banning lunches from home makes me shake my head.

I have worked in schools for almost 20 years, from kindergartens to grade 12, in rough inner city schools to tiny schools out in the middle of farmland. I have been in over 100 schools spanning 3 districts. A big part of my job has always been supervising lunch, so I feel it's safe to say that I've had a LONG time to observe lunches and see how various schools and districts handle things.

Banning home lunches is something that would make me, as a parent, CRAZY. I can't get on board with something like that and if I worked in a school that insisted on implementing such a policy, I'd be a loud and vocal opponent for a number of reasons.

Firstly, we live in a free country. I resent anyone telling me what to feed my child. My child, my food, my responsibility. Period. Nobody knows my child as well as I do, or how he needs something with no red food dye or msg, and how he's sensitive to lactose, soy, and corn. I don't trust someone who is making money off what my child eats to CARE that he eats healthy.

Because what really disturbs me is this:

"Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district's food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch."

I wonder, if the money factor was removed, if it really would be about health, or if that excuse is used to force people to pay for the school lunch that puts dollars in the pockets of big corporations? I don't want corporations cooking my food. You shouldn't either.

Secondly, what about the ethnic population? Isn't denying them what they would normally eat going to affect their own food culture? I used to work with Japanese students who brought the most interesting bento boxes, sushi, and other things. In one school Punjabi kids brought delicious curries. It was very interesting to fellow students to see what their friends brought from home and taught them a lot about different cultures in the process.

Thirdly, I know that they say kids with medical issues can present a note from their doctor and they are exempt, but really? What about kids with sensory issues? Picky eaters? Children who have a difficult time with any unfamiliar food? Why would we make it more difficult and have them go hungry rather than allow them to eat something familiar?

Oh, but some are saying, what the kids are used to is bad for them. It's full of fat, sugar, and salt.

Yes. Yes it is. But we live in a free country where people have a choice. If someone wants to eat a 1000 calorie milkshake made with ice cream and strawberry syrup with 65 different chemicals, they have that option. If someone wants to pack a can of Coke into their child's lunch, they have that option. But having choice, be it good or bad, is what makes us free.

The very same rights that allows a parent to pack a can of Coke into their child's lunch allowed me to send a chocolate bar with Kevin on an all day downhill skiing trip. I NEVER send chocolate bars in Kevin's lunch. This was a one time treat, brought on by the fact that he would be outside expending enormous amounts of energy, and as a growing boy who tends to crash from low blood sugar, it was an emergency snack to get him over a slump if he needed it. Anyone who has spent a lot of time outdoors or skis and scuba dives knows that a chocolate bar that is packed with nuts is a great pick me up.

Kevin's teacher wouldn't let him eat it. He doesn't need the sugar, I was later told.

My response?

Get your hands OFF my kid's lunch box. Sugar isn't evil. In moderation, it's fine, and I want to be the judge of where the line is. Sugar doesn't make my kid hyper, and I resent someone imposing their own beliefs onto my child about his lunch. If they want to see hyper, I reasoned, I'll send in a can of Coke and THEN they'll get a taste of hyper. (the caffiene would make him crazy!)

I never did have the guts to send the Coke, but I sure was tempted.

What bothered me most was the mixed messages Kevin was receiving. Home made brownies were criticized, but Dunkaroos were ok? Juice was bad, even though he was lactose intolerant and that was the only juice he got? The staff would say he couldn't eat the chocolate bar, but they ate doughnuts in the staff room? Messages were sent home when he didn't eat all his lunch. What about not being hungry? At one point, because a fellow student disliked the smell of fish so much and Kevin brought tuna, he was discouraged from bringing even a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread.

I swear I almost burst a blood vessel I was so irritated. Already the school was nut free, and coupled with Kevin's sensitivities to dairy, MSG, Red food dye, corn, and soy, I was practically pulling my hair out in frustration. The sad thing was that at that time, it would've been easier to pick up a Mr. Noodle cup and send that to school than to try to find something that was actually healthy, and nobody would've said a word. (edited to add: I have never, nor would I ever, buy those things. They are gross. But the irony, huh? School promotes healthy food and yet I could send in a Noodle cup over a tuna sandwich and actually get LESS flack for it?)

Not only that, I wouldn't accept the messages that he was coming home with. Yes, we need to eat healthy. However, we also need to listen to our bodies and stop eating if we're full, and practice moderation with treats. Treats are not bad, they are just treats. The last thing I wanted was Kevin turning out like an elementary school friend of mine who was never allowed to eat anything sugary or processed at all, and eventually resorted to literally breaking into the neighbor's house occasionally to eat their Froot Loops.

No joke. True story.

I wanted him to listen to his body, know how practice moderation, and have a healthy relationship with food and it was so weirdly ironic that I was fighting against a school healthy living program that was supposed to be on my side.

This healthy relationship with food, it seems, is what's missing. People are never satisfied anymore. Instead of a small ice cream cone at Disneyland, you get one the size of your head. Soup and salad at Chile's restaurant is enough to feed a family of four. Nobody knows how to enjoy one small serving and then be done with it. Instead of a small portion of pop, you see kids downing whole liters. Even Starbucks is said to be coming out with a drink larger than a venti.

Who the hell needs that much latte?

Banning lunches is, at best, a band-aid solution. It doesn't solve the problem in the long run, but rather is a cop out to make things easier for the school. If there needs to be long term change, then educate those parents. Plant a school garden. Teach the kids to cook. Blitz the curriculum with education about food and where it comes from, what's in it, how to be healthy. Teach portion control. Show kids and parents how to have a healthy relationship with food-ALL food. Teach the parents how to pack a healthy lunch. Set the example by making sure that all food provided by the school at functions is healthy.

The only thing anyone learns from a ban is how to sneak around it.
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