It’s been too long since I’ve written on the blog. I have had a whilrwind of a year and different but similar challenges with my kids but I am recommitted to sharing my journey, support, knowledge, mistakes and resources with parents and anyone willing to join me here. I hope you leave feeling more encouraged and less alone than when you came.
Today I took my son to his doctor’s appointment at Children’s Hospital. It’s always an emotionally exhausting trip. The traffic is always a mess and he usually has back to back doctor visits which means we’re there for at least two hours. I try to make it worth the trip by also getting in some quality time. Being a suburban kid he loves the idea of spending time walking around West Philly and eating burgers off of the food trucks. Even though I had tons of work to do back at home and clients buzzing my phone we stopped at one of his favorite diners in town to ear. I watched as the rain started to drizzle , then pour then slow down to a drizzle and then back to a heavy shower. I wanted to do anything but walk out of there and get soaked but I saw him look out at the rain with anticipation. He smiled every so slightly and I was instantly reminded of the days I would laugh out loud watching the joy on his face as he jumped into the largest puddle he could find. I would keep an extra change of clothes and shoes in the car just for these times. We would search for the largest, mud-filled puddle in the playground or on the way home. He would look at me with this look of excitement and smile just as he approached the puddle as if to ask permission to take flight. It brought both of us both joy, a few strange looks from other parents, and an extra load of laundry in the house, but oh how we both laughed. He was a toddler then but those are moments he’ll never forget.
Today my son and I got caught in the pouring rain. We were two city blocks away from the car. I found myself trying to avoid the puddles as I watched him find the largest one to walk through. At one point we both met eyes and laughed getting our clothes soaked while running to the car. It took me back to those days I would stop the car just to let him jump in a big puddle. I saw the same joy in his eyes that I saw then as the scientist in him laughed at me trying to dodge raindrops all the way to the car. Laughter is sometimes the best medicine. I realized at that moment he was teaching me how to let go of what other people think and just jump in. Have fun. Get wet. Get soaked. Be cold. I’m learning to be more fun and less motherly these days. My children need that side of me. I need the joy moments too. Just wanted to share a piece of my sunshine today. Hope you are taking moments for joy today.
This is will be a fun, relaxed and creative atmosphere for you to enjoy after work, before the weekend begins where you can let your hair down and support the creative talents of local artists at the same time. I hope to see you there!
TODAY, June 17th is the eighth annual Daddy Daughter Dance. It takes place again this year in Philadelphia at the Hilton Hotel from 6-pm. The event started as the idea of the founder of Daddy UniverseCity who recognized the significance of the bond between father and daughter. With all of the bullying, school stress and social media influence in our young girls lives our daughters can easily fall victim to anxiety, depression, school suspension and low self-esteem without a strong father or father figure for support.
I volunteer every year not just to support DaddyUniverseCity and their vision to support and educate fathers, but because of the beautiful stories that I see walking through the door. I’ve seen fathers with disabled daughters, grandfathers attending with their daughter and granddaughter, men with infants and diaper bags on their shoulder and young girls dancing with their little feet on top of their father’s for guidance. I’ve seen tears in the eyes of grown men and grown women alike and it’s obvious that it’s the first time they have spent this type of quality time with their father or child. There is not simply music, good food and tiaras but there is genuine healing of families and relationships happening after the tickets are purchased and the couples are seated. I see it in their eyes, I hear the conversations and feedback as they pour out of the ballroom drenched with joy. I am always filled with hope and fulfillment and while I wish I had the chance to attend once with my own Dad, I am ever so grateful that my daughter is sitting at the table every year with hers.
The event started eight years ago with 50, last year over 500 were in attendance. If you don’t have your ticket, there may still be time but I wouldn’t wait much longer. Miracles are waiting.
Life can change in a blink of an eye. It’s a phrase you hear often and never really “get” until it happens. One day my nine-year old was walking, reading Harry Potter novels repeatedly, running after her friends and swimming like a fish and it all ceased within the seconds that passed when she slipped on wet leaves, fell forward onto a wooden beam on the ground and injured her head. We have both gone through the difficult phases of grief and as a parent it’s just natural to wonder if there was something I could have done differently or sooner to help her heal. What I’ve learned with the help of my dear friends (and some strangers) who allowed me to release my fears and frustrations into their ears was that I had no control over this accident nor could I change the way I navigated my way through the health care matrix to find the appropriate care for her. What I can do however, is share my experience so that another parent is better informed about brain injury in children than I was when this accident occurred so here goes…
6 Things I wish I knew before my child’s head injury:
Keep them home from school the following day.
Luckily her accident happened the day before a holiday and she was able to rest for three days before she returned to school. Some of her concussion symptoms did not present themselves until close to a week later but if I was aware of the protocol for children who fell and hit their head I would have taken her to the doctor the next day.
Get an incident report
In my daughter’s case no one saw her fall and I was at work and unable to see her until an hour or so after the incident. We all had to take her word for what happened. It’s best for insurance documentation to get an incident report from the school (or organization if your child is at day care, summer camp or sports). Most child care organizations are required to fill out a report and should give you a copy. If they don’t, ask for it.
Even if your child has only one symptom, take him/her to the pediatrician for evaluation
Refer to #1 above for the list of concussion signs and symptoms from the Center for Disease Control. I’ve learned that not every child exhibits symptoms in the same time frame and severity and it’s best to proceed on the side of caution and take them to the pediatrician for evaluation even if they complain of only a headache. Your doctor may tell you that protocol is to wait a week but I would insist on having your child seen anyway.
Seek out a pediatric concussion specialist in your area.
Not every neurologist or hospital ER has a wealth of experience with every age range and not every pediatrician specializes in brain medicine. It took almost a month of going to doctors and emergency rooms before I found a doctor that best suited my daughter’s needs. I am not sure why but her first doctor did not seem to have compassion for her and her immediate needs. I asked neighbors and friends in the medical field until I received a few referrals for her specialty. My next step was to check to see which were covered under our insurance which narrowed the list down further. We are located in Pennsylvania, but the Brain Injury Association in your area can provide a list of service providers. I have also learned that sometimes to connect with the right doctor, you have to be willing travel. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. Our second doctor was the best fit for her.
Contact your school district and county for resources
It wasn’t until I sought out a second opinion, six weeks post injury that I was informed there was a school re-entry program specifically for children with brain injury. This consulting division of our county’s Intermediary Unit serves as a liaison between the school and families and provides you with the resources and support you need to transition your child back to school. Brainsteps, the consulting program in Pennsylvania is fully funded by the state. My daughter’s case manager has visited our home and provided such encouragement for my daughter and myself!
Make self-care a priority; ask for help and don’t be too proud to accept it!
I had no idea how exhausting and stressful it would be mentally and physically to manage a household, business (I’m self-employed) and my daughter’s care after her brain injury. Luckily I have a “village” of friends who knew it would drain me and immediately offered to help. I didn’t want to bother anyone because I knew they all had families to support but my friend reminded me that there’s enough compassion in this world for everyone. She asked if she could set up a meal train which allows neighbors to sign up and bring home cooked meals to your family. I didn’t realize how much time I spent on preparing and cooking our meals until I didn’t have to! Other friends have come to visit, helped with laundry and housecleaning or sat with my children so I could go out to the movies or just sit still with a cup of coffee or have a glass of wine with a good friend. You have to find time for yourself away from the stress and strain where you can relax and release. The help is available but you have to ask for and allow yourself to receive the help. Genuine help is there ; you are better able to care for your child when you take the time to care for yourself.
You may have experienced brain injury, be a medical professional or have a young child who may one day be diagnosed with a concussion; either way I hope this has been helpful to you.
If you haven’t checked out Akilah S. Richards Fare of the Free Child podcast of Raising Free People Network, you are truly missing out! This podcast focuses on all things around ways to work toward liberation.
In the most recent episode, Akilah shares resources for home and unschooling families as well as deschooling support because we could all use some deschooling.
Habari Gani? Umoja! (UNITY) .
TODAY is the first day of Kwanzaa. We observe the principle Umoja. To strive for and maintain unity in the community, nation and race.
Join the community at the African American Museum in Philadelphia or in your neighborhood celebrating the Kwanzaa traditions and principle of UMOJA TODAY.
#Kwanzaa is a pan-African holiday which
celebrates family, community and culture
created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966
and celebrated from December 26–January 1.
.. Official Kwanzaa Website
Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed by Dr. Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.
I’m happy to share that Dr. Renée D. Charles has offered a safe space for the community to discussion the film When They See Us and Wellness Coach Retha Fernandez of Soul of Long Island, LLC has offered her meditation services as well.
Together we invite the community to join us in a conversation
(safe space) about the film, mental health advocacy, healing past traumas and wellness in the black community.
I wish I found this for Valentines’ Day. My son is a math wiz and I always struggle to find meaningful gifts and cards for Valentines’ Day. These are briliant! Check out the post for ideas that you can use all year round!