Uncharted Parent is Back!

Posted by on Mar 3, 2015 in Domesticity, Growing Up, Health & Sleep, Parenting on a Daily Basis | 0 comments


Hi! It’s been a while. Almost two months have passed since we last talked, and much has happened since then. Let me see if I can fill you in on the essentials:

  • I used to live in northern New England. Now, by the look and feel of things around me, I live in a frozen tundra somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. I haven’t seen any wildlife this winter, probably because all the animals are huddled up against the absurdly low temperatures, high winds and giant snow piles, trying to survive. But if when I finally do see an animal, it’s a polar bear, I won’t be all that surprised.
  • Since I last wrote about my daughter’s seizure, we received a diagnosis: benign rolandic epilepsy. Given the circumstances, it was the best possible answer to our questions. I’ll write more about it in a future post.
  • My thirteen-year-old son, “Jack,” officially became a man last month—at least in the religious sense. I did not freak out and everyone is still speaking to me—so far as I know. #Winning! Also, everyone in the house has survived the first few months of THE TEENAGE YEARS. (But my God, the mood swings…)
  • One of my cats has developed an eating disorder.
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Wanting Answers, Finding Questions

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Adoption, Health & Sleep | 2 comments

question mark icon

Dreaded parenting moment: there is something wrong with your kid and you don’t know what it is.

Two weeks ago, I was at work when my phone erupted with a series of texts. My twelve-year-old son, “Jack,” was using a friend’s phone to text me from that friend’s house, where he and my nine-year-old daughter, “Emmie,” were spending part of the day. Emmie had had a seizure, and I needed to come to the house right away.


There followed a stay in the emergency room, a CT scan, an EKG, a blood draw, some meds and a very, very long string of questions. Since then, we have been to and set up consults with pediatric cardiology and pediatric neurology. More tests. A finding, but no answer. Answers to questions, but no definitive findings. No comprehensive theories, but lots of possibilities. It might be Nothing. There’s a good chance it’s Something.

For the first time, we faced the emptiness of not being able to answer any of the questions asked of us regarding our daughter’s family history in a situation where such information could provide real assistance to the physicians treating her. Is there a family history of epilepsy? What about heart defects or disease? Our daughter is adopted from South Korea, and, like so many adoptees, owns a history that is unknowable even to her.

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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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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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Guest Post – A Really Bad Parenting Day

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Health & Sleep, Parenting on a Daily Basis, Parents are People, Too | 0 comments

The Snips of Seymour Smith

The email from my friend Margot* said, “Bad day.” After I read it, I agreed. I’m sharing it with you, readers, because what happened to Margot and her son, Luke, could happen to any parent and child. You might read Margot’s story here and say, “I would never do that,” and maybe you wouldn’t. But have you never slipped up, ever? I have–in ways that have made me think for days, “Wow, close call.” Margot’s story hit home for me not just because she’s my friend, but also because there’s something we can all learn here about our kids who are still children, even when they start to look like they’re not.

How many horrible stories have begun with the opening “It was a beautiful day…?” But it was a beautiful day, one of those perfect, long summer Saturdays where everything is sun-kissed and it feels like the afternoon will never end. My ten-year-old, nearly five-foot-tall son, Luke,* and I had just finished shopping for his back-to-school clothes, an essential task as he seemed to have outgrown nearly everything he owned overnight.

We stopped at my favorite gardening store on the way home to buy end-of-summer flowers to plant later that afternoon. While paying, I asked the lady at the checkout counter what to do about the huge decorative grasses dominating my garden. She told me how she and her boyfriend had pruned theirs back by gathering the blades in bunches and cutting off several tufts at a time.

At home, Luke headed inside for the couch and I worked on various flowers in the garden, dead-heading them before attacking the tallest decorative grass with my large garden cutters. As I snipped each blade back, it occurred to me that this method would take forever. Recalling the lady’s advice about bunching and cutting, I sought Luke’s help.

“Luke!” I called several times. Getting no response, I took a more direct approach. “Can you please get off the couch and come out here and help me in the garden? Stop lying around. It’s a gorgeous summer day outside.”

Luke came outside and held bunches of the grass, offering advice while I trimmed. “Mom,” he said as I clipped, “you need to get that piece right–,” and he let go of the tuft he was holding and stretched out his right hand, pointing his index finger exactly where and when I was cutting…as I snipped off the tip of his finger.

“Emergency room, now!”

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List of Current Middle & High-School Drugs

Posted by on Jul 18, 2013 in Health & Sleep, The World We Parent In, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 5 comments

Did that title grab your attention? I hope so. An email I received on the topic definitely grabbed mine.

The ER doctors at my local hospital recently compiled a list of innocent-sounding drug names currently popular with middle and high-school kids.

My son, who will enter sixth grade in the fall, has already been in middle school for a year. This list, combined with a report that a kid on at least one of the middle-school buses in my town has been dealing drugs, has served as a major eye-opener for me. If I retained any thoughts that my son is still a little kid, I can disabuse myself of that idea now. My son lives in an adolescent world, and he needs to learn how to deal with situations like this one so that he’s prepared when–not if–he encounters them.

After I read the list of drugs and their descriptions below, I felt sick. All of them seem designed to trick the youngest kids, to convince them that whatever substance is being offered is harmless and fun. I’m sharing this list with my kids and explaining its perniciousness to them, and I’m sharing it with you, too:


  • Cheese – Cheese is a mixture of heroin and Tylenol. This is a drug that is being marketed to the younger crowd. This low-grade heroin is very cheap. It can be purchased at $2 for one tenth of a gram, or one hit.
  • Strawberry Quick – Strawberry Quick is a methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, which is mixed with a fruity flavor and color. It is named after the Nesquik that it resembles. This drug is very popular with young users because the drug’s chemical taste is not so obvious. Strawberry Quick is relatively cheap, although it is more expensive than cheese.
  • Blueberries – Blueberries refer [sic] to Adderall, something commonly prescribed for people with Attention Deficit Disorder. This drug is known to increase a person’s energy while decreasing his or her appetite. Teenage girls, in particular, take this type of medication to lose weight. Blueberry can also be a slang term for marijuana with a small tint of blue.
  • Molly – Molly is a concentrated or more intense form of ecstasy.
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