Monthly Archives: April 2008

Sunshine And Magnifying Glasses

Let’s talk about experimentation and discovery — and the potential abuse of powerful tools. Even this old experienced parent almost got it wrong today.

Today was the first really sunny and really warm day here in our area, and it just so happened that we visited some friends for dinner. They also have a five year old boy, like we do, and we had a lot of fun.

We spent a lot of time on their terrace since it was so warm and the sun was so inviting. My son happened to take along a “toy” magnifying glass (I say “toy” because it’s made by a toy company and meets safety standards but is definitely a real magnifying glass), so we grabbed a piece of paper and I taught him how to focus the sun’s rays so that it would burn the paper. Thankfully it burned but didn’t ignite…

Yes, his daddy almost burned a house down once when he was about five years old, but his daddy was playing with matches… we’ll leave the rest of that story for some other day!

Anyway, we were taking a walk a bit later and the two boys started doing what five year old boys do — running, yelling, pushing each other around a bit, etc. At one point my son ran up to me, magnifying glass in hand, focused it on me, and said, “I’m going to burn you up!”

Oops.

Thankfully we can talk and he listens very well (much better than I do sometimes) and I explained to him that the magnifying glass was NEVER to be used to hurt somebody and that he shouldn’t even try to burn paper unless mommy or daddy said he could. He understood right away and there were no further problems.

I want to say something about the great responsibility that comes with great power, but I’m not sure if I’d be talking about the sun’s rays or the duties of a parent who forgot to talk about the potential consequences of setting stuff on fire. I most certainly don’t want him to learn the way I did!

–Tom

Preventing Child Abuse

Although I’ve traveled over much of the world and currently live an ocean away from where I grew up, I’m able to stay in touch with the news in my home town (Canton, Ohio) thanks to the Internet. I like to check out the home town newspaper (The Canton Repository) whenever I get a few spare moments.

I came across an extremely disturbing article there today about how some of the smallest children in Stark County (the county in which Canton sits) are being horribly abused and sometimes even killed by abuse. A one year old child who was placed on a dresser, then hit hard in the head and pushed off the dresser (he died). A two year old with a skull fracture so severe that surgeons had to remove skull fragments from her brain.

Why?

Click here to read the story about child abuse.

The Stark County Department of Children’s Services has placed over 1,000 pinwheels at a prominent location in Canton (the Market Avenue location is almost in the middle of the downtown area, if my memory serves me correctly). Each pinwheel represents a neglected or abused child. It’s a strong graphic image of the effect of child neglect and abuse and is hopefully serving as a reminder of something that needs to change.

Will you do me a favor RIGHT NOW while things are calm in your house? I’ll assume that you’re a parent (or thinking about becoming one) if you’re reading this blog. Take a moment to look in the government listings of your phone book for the listing for Family Advocacy, Children’s Services, or something similar. Write down the phone number and put that card on your refrigerator.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are so “whatever” that you think you might do something to hurt your child, CALL THAT NUMBER. Get help. Or if you’re in such a position and don’t have that card, call the police. Get help.

Speaking as the father of a precious toddler (22 months old as I write this), I can’t imagine hurting her. She’s bright, curious, and pure joy as far as I’m concerned. Putting an end to her childhood innocence by abuse or neglect is the last thing I’d want to do to that child. Nevertheless, I carry the number for the Family Advocacy program at our local military base (as well as the phone number for the Military Police detachment) in my wallet, just in case.

And if you know of a child who is being neglected, please make the call. Childhood is precious, and having a healthy environment while growing up is crucial to a child’s proper development. So make the call if abuse or neglect is evident. Please get involved.

Thanks for listening,
Tom

P.S. — I also have the phone number for our local Poison Control Center handy, just in case. And keep half a tank of gas in your car at all times in case you need to make that midnight run to the emergency room!

Three Syllable Words

(NOTE: This post was originally drafted back in mid-February 2008. I simply forgot to finish and publish it! — Tom)

Today Olivia said a three syllable word. She’s about 20.5 months old.

It kind of surprised me.

I’ve never claimed to be a child development expert or anything, and it may just be the proud parent in me at work, but I think that my little girl is exceptionally bright!

A lot of that is due to her big brother, Sammy (who is almost five years old now). He spends a lot of time with his little sister, and little sister wants to do everything that Sammy does. And yes, he does tend to talk a lot…

But that’s OK. We are the proud parents of a toddler who works really hard to communicate with us and who is content when she does get her point across. Life is much better that way.

Thanks for listening,
Tom

Five Years Old

Yesterday (April 12, 2008) was my son’s fifth birthday party. He officially turns five years old tomorrow, but it’s simply easier to let him think that his party day is his birthday!

Lots of things have happened during those five years. It simply amazes me how quickly children learn and grow during their childhood.

One of his gifts was a Brio builder set. It came with a bunch of wooden pieces, plastic connectors, and instructions on how to use the parts to build a fire truck and fire station. Other than a couple of times when he couldn’t quite get a piece lined up and pushed into place, he put it together himself by simply following the instructions.

This is the same child who was totally helpless just five short years ago?

Thankfully he’s also a very loving and very obedient boy. At the same time, he does have his own opinions about a lot of things, but he also knows that mom and dad are going to listen to him and give him the opportunity to have his say (this helps tremendously). He’s also an excellent big brother and really does have a sense of nurturing and protection.

So Happy Birthday to my big little boy. Or is it my little big boy (who just climbed up in my chair to give me a big kiss and a big hug…!).

–Tom