Thursday, February 11, 2010


My five-year old - my bouncy, smiling, intense, smart five year old girl is troubling me.
She's had a bout with odd stomach pain lately - never a fever, never any problems with either end, happy to eat, happy to run about, nothing odd. Just these ever-present stomachaches and a quiet "Mama, my tummy hurts.'
I called the doctor's office after four days of her staying home from school and asked if there was any sort of virus going around. Assured there was, and that keeping her home wasn't going to be any different than sending her to school, I didn't feel bad sending her back, fortified with a few Tylenol and the knowledge that I would be home if she suddenly worsened.
The tummy trouble lingered. One week, two, three....never worsening, never getting any better. I was still convinced that this was nothing, that it would just go away....
But I thought I might talk to her doctor, just in case. I ran into him at the hospital and just casually asked about Rosey's tum.  He asked a few questions, (Where is the pain? Right in front of her bellybutton. Does it get worse? Sometimes, but not enough that I think we need to come in to see you. Is it constant? It seems so.) then stunned me by quietly saying ' It could be anxiety.'
Anxiety? In a five-year-old?

According to Health Canada, it's not so surprising. Mental health problems among Canadian children and youth are predicted to increase by 50% by the year 2020. As children enter school earlier and earlier, and our lives get more complicated, more kids need help with transitions and social skills.  The most common mental health problem among children and youth is anxiety. An estimated 6.5% (2009 figure) of all children in Canada struggle with anxious feelings, symptoms, and disorders. 
That's a lot of kids with stomach-aches. A lot of young people unsure how to handle events in their lives, how to use coping skills, how to work through new situations.
Including Rosey.
I'm gob-smacked. How do you teach a child who you've never noticed holding things in, who has never seemed maudlin or mopey or bothered by things - that it's okay to let go?
The report goes on to say that with the appropriate investments and access to treatment, it is estimated that 70% of childhood cases of mental health problems can be solved through early diagnosis and interventions.
Which is great news - really great! Awesome! But doesn't really help me, as I worry and second-guess myself and call conferences and wonder how on earth my intuition didn't tell me that this tummy ache was serious.
This is an original Canada Moms Blogs post. Jessica blogs at daysgoby and various other places.
 Photo by the author.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

something beautiful

4313096493_3a1c38bf1f My childrens' school is collecting money for Haiti - milk dimes, errant quarters, toonies and loonies and paper money shaken from piggy banks and caged in return for chores. It's a lovely thing that our kids are so concerned for other children so far away.
It's hard to know what is just-enough-and-not-too-much to tell my young'uns so that they'll grasp the situation and yet not be horrified into bad dreams. We've talked about how the people that were struck hardest by this disaster were the ones who really didn't have anything to begin with, how we, who have so much, can help these people that we'll never meet by sending a little money so they'll have things like fresh water. Or something to eat. Or maybe a pillow and a blanket.
My daughter's class is young and confused by how someone's house could just disappear. They've been drawing pictures to send to children in Haiti, full of rainbows and smiling faces and birds holding hands. So, she explained, they'll have something beautiful until this is all fixed. Until this all goes away.
(I wish rescue operations could run on her timetable!)
She has a valid point. Everyone should have something pretty. Something to remind them that even though life-changing events happen, that beauty lives on. That normalcy will, one day, return. And I think that works for people donating money to help as well - staring into the face of calamity, it's easy to think that your money is too little to help much - too easy to be mired in the enormity of the disaster, to forget that even a little helps a lot. It's hard to remember someday Haiti will be beautiful and whole again and not always a land of dust and broken dreams.
A Canadian-begun-but-quickly-international on-line auction, To Haiti with Love, is such a place where you could find a piece of such sustaining beauty to ease your soul. Art, photography, papercrafts, clothing, and creative goods, (and conference tickets and vacations and knitted sweaters and poetry and so many more wonderful things! Bird mobiles! Aah!) Auctions all run from February 1st to February 8th. All proceeds will be sent directly to the St. Joseph's Family of homes for children in Haiti.
The brain-child of visual artist René Joshi Sims of fruityfantastica and coordinated by author Kate Inglis of sweet | salty, this amazing auction will leave you with a stunning reminder of a time when you sought to help people less fortunate than yourself.
When you gave them hope for something beautiful.
photo by IFRC
This is an original Canada Moms post. Jessica blogs at daysgoby and tries not to cry too much at the news every night.