Soccer & Concussions: It’s Time for FIFA to Set an Example

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Health & Sleep, The World We Parent In | 2 comments

It’s time for professional soccer to change its approach to head injuries, both for the health of its players and, if that’s somehow not sufficient motivation, then for all of the kids, coaches and parents who look to professional soccer for its role models.

Soccer is big in my house. This past month was all about the World Cup for us. We watched “the beautiful game” nearly every day, we bought jerseys, we rearranged our schedules for the U.S., quarter, semi and final matches. I, the former official non-sports fan, even scolded my kids for talking so loudly I couldn’t hear the commentary during Sunday’s final. (I’m not proud of this, but it’s true.) The World Cup is soccer played at its highest level, and this month gave us much to admire: the footwork, the drive, the athleticism, the internationalism.

But the tournament’s enormous international audience saw a dark side of soccer, too: the willfully blind and dangerous disregard by FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, for head injuries sustained by its players during play.

Anyone who was watching can now recite the three most egregious examples of inappropriately treated head injuries during the tournament. Álvaro Pereira of Uruguay, knocked unconscious during an early-round match against England, who then returned to the field to play the rest of the game. Javier Mascherano of Argentina, whose head collided with that of a Dutch player in a semi-final, staggered, was caught by another player as he fell to the ground, then returned to play after only two minutes of medical evaluation. And Christoph Kramer of Germany, who received a vicious if inadvertent blow to the side of the head in the final against Argentina, fell to the ground but then played fifteen additional minutes before he was finally subbed off, supported on both sides so he could walk, with little to no focus in his eyes.

It didn’t require a doctor to see that each of these men needed a proper evaluation for a concussion before being allowed to continue to play. None of them received one. And these are just the most glaring examples from the tournament.

The current structure of FIFA’s rules leaves the call as to whether a player can remain on or return to the field up to the player and his team.

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Family Time, Even If It Kills Us

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Parenting on a Daily Basis | 2 comments

Agree To Disagree

I love summer. The pace of life changes, especially if you have kids. Part of the reason for that is the fact that school is out, of course, but things are different also because the weather is warm, beaches, rivers and mountains are calling, and there’s all that ice cream to be eaten. Summer is a time to change priorities, to steal a little time from work and spend it with friends and family. Engage in favorite activities together and explore new ones. Bond with your kids in the warm temperatures. Feel the love.

Or pull out your hair until school starts as you try to get your kids to agree on what the meaning of “fun” is.

I have two children. He is older, she is younger. He is an athlete who needs daily physical activity, she dances but generally prefers quiet, stationary entertainment. His sense of humor reaches beyond his twelve years; hers is still catching up to her nine (though her understanding of the subtleties of certain kinds of human behavior sometimes surpasses his). He likes his movies with a high level of conflict and drama; she’s easily scared by much of the content in a lot of PG movies. He watches sports on TV almost exclusively; she finds sports dull as donkeys and prefers to stare at as many Disney Channel shows each day as she can get away with.

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Seasons

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Growing Up, Parents are People, Too | 8 comments

Four Seasons

I haven’t been away from my blog this long since I started it eight (eight!) years ago.

So much has changed since my last post. An entire season has come and gone. Flowers more delicate than the pioneering daffodils and crocuses have bloomed. Green is everywhere, hiding ticks I’ve plucked out of both of my kids already. A crop of super-sized mosquitoes arrived early and promises to stay until first frost. (Mourn the loss of much of New England’s bat population.) And the surest sign of summer here, road construction, is omnipresent.

It’s also that time of year when parents measure time, and I’m no exception. At a recent bat mitzvah, a kid I’ve known since his toddler days was persuaded to belt out a rendition of “Let It Go,” karaoke-style, and the first cracks of a changing voice were unmistakeable. My own son has outgrown pants and shoes purchased for him just a few months ago. Youth baseball season has come and gone; my daughter’s annual dance recital is behind us.

When snow still was a daily possibility, I had two parents. Now, I have only one. My relationship with my mother was never easy–a parent’s lifelong mental illness creates unceasing, unpredictable bends and twists in relationships–but death throws down a steel barrier, an absolute “stop” sign in the road of even limited possibilities of where a relationship might someday go.

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Something to Read Until I Get Back

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in The World We Parent In | 1 comment

I’m going to be away for a few weeks due to a death in the family. Until I get back, here’s a column I wrote last week for the Concord Monitor about Sheryl Sandberg and Anna Maria Chávez’s campaign to “Ban Bossy.”

‘Ban Bossy’ campaign misses the mark

By TRACY HAHN-BURKETT
For the Monitor
Thursday, March 27, 2014
(Published in print: Friday, March 28, 2014)

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, and Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts of America, want to “Ban Bossy.” They say the word “bossy” is most often aimed at girls and women who exhibit assertive behavior, and this accusation discourages girls from ultimately becoming leaders because they feel compelled to keep quiet in order to be liked.

I want to support Sandberg and Chavez’s campaign. I really do. I understand that language matters and that words have the power to hurt, to hold back and to oppress. I applaud the motivation behind the “Ban Bossy” campaign; how could I not support an effort to encourage more girls to recognize their own capabilities and fulfill their potential? I even get the need, in our attention- deficit era, to condense any message into a hash-taggable, Vine-usable, 10-second-spot-explainable kernel. #BanBossy. Anything more complicated, and you risk losing a significant chunk of your audience.

But crafting a catchy message isn’t enough. That message’s call to action ought to be one that can make a real and positive difference, and that’s where “Ban Bossy” falls short.

(Click here to read the rest of the article.)

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My Next Read: It’s Not What You Think

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Education & Learning, Parenting on a Daily Basis | 0 comments

I love reading. I can’t wait to pick up my next book, open the cover and see what world I’ll be taken to next. Who will I meet? What will I learn? How will it make me feel?

I’m not feeling the same sense of anticipation about my next read, however. This one is a self-appointed assignment, and it requires a battle plan. Spring is in the air (I know, it’s hard to tell, but put on another sweater and look at the calendar), and it’s time for baseball. This year, that means I’ll be reading Baseball for Dummies.

After you stop laughing at me, you might ask why I would do such a thing. The answer, of course, is because I’m a mom. My son has decided to play baseball, and here’s what I know about the sport: pitcher, batter, umpire, hits, strikes, bases, home runs, walks, signals, slides, chewing tobacco. Steroid scandal. (Every sport has a scandal.) World Series. Major leagues. Minor leagues. Little League. Batter batter batter. Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Peanuts and Cracker Jack.

How am I doing?

I’m not a sports person. But I want to support my son in his new sport and be able to talk to him about it, so I need to learn about baseball. In addition, let’s face it: the best way not to be bored by something is to know enough about it to become mentally involved. Right now, baseball doesn’t hold my interest at all. But maybe if I actually learn enough about the game to be able to follow what’s going on, my perspective will change.

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This Week’s Episode of “Talk to Your Kids” – Marijuana Candy

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Health & Sleep, The World We Parent In | 0 comments

THC candy

There’s such a thing as marijuana candy?

Yes, there is. And you should tell your kids about it, so they don’t accidentally ingest it and end up in the hospital, like Trish Reske’s son.

I confess I was completely ignorant about the incorporation of tetrahydrocarabinnol (THC), the psychoactive substance in cannabis, into snack bars, chocolate bars, gummy-type snacks, etc., until I stumbled across a couple of articles and blog posts from February I’d somehow missed. These snacks are currently being marketed in Colorado, where retail sale of marijuana is legal, and online. Manufacturers claim not to be targeting children with these products; they say they are only trying to reach people who prefer to ingest pot rather than smoke it. But the colorful candies, sweet flavors and often vague labeling leave both kids and unsuspecting adults looking for a quick bite vulnerable to getting something more than they bargained for.

Take a look at the packaging for Wana Jewels, a gummy-like, THC-infused candy. If someone offered your child a handful of these, would she suspect they were laced with pot?

THC candy

What about these?

 THC candy

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Hello, Middle Age

Posted by on Mar 11, 2014 in Parents are People, Too | 0 comments

Sepia hat and middle aged woman - self portrait

Hello, middle age? I’d like my right eyelid back.

Not the one I’ve got now–the one that appeared suddenly one morning in February 2013. This one has no crease in it and only my eyelashes prevent my open lid from swallowing my eyeball entirely. No, I’d like to have back the one I lived with through the great majority of my life thus far, the one with a deep crease and a lot of space between the crease and brow. My eyes had been one of my best features, and I’d prefer not to mess that up. K?

Yeah, that doesn’t seem to be working out so well. Instead, some days, my left eyelid shows signs it may soon succumb to the same gravity as my right. On the upside, I suppose I’ll at least not be lopsided when that happens.

What’s this about? I acquired my first gray hair (white hair, actually) at twenty-six, and the overall transformation is very gradual. I’ve been neither surprised nor unprepared. But the onset of true middle age seemed to occur overnight, and it involves things like my eyelid. This was not in the memo.

In the same month my eyelid turned pouchy, the five pounds I’d alternately been adding and dropping for years acquired permanent resident status and settled around my midsection, an area that had been thin through the previous four decades of my life. Those five pounds brought a few friends with them, and I nearly passed out as I tried in vain to zip pair after pair of jeans. Finally I stashed the lot in a plastic bin and bought an entirely new wardrobe of pants.

Middle age, it turns out, is expensive. Wait. They charge you for this?

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