#TBT: Pooping for Disney

On Thursdays I post a favorite from the archives. This is from August, 2009.

The backstory: I have been trying to potty train India for five months now. She has done really well getting the #1 part down. She hasn't had an accident in months and does really well at home and at school. The #2 though . . . not so much. I know that she has control over it, though. She doesn't really have accidents, she just waits until naptime every day when I put her in a diaper. (She is very regular). Every day for weeks now, we go through this routine where I put her in a diaper, leave the room, and come back in ten minutes later to change her poopy diaper.

Over it.

I know she has control over it, but is just refusing to go on the potty because she is a) stubborn or b) freaked out by the potty. I've been trying to strategize how to remedy the situation. I had ideas about leaving her naked on a plastic sheet during the nap, or putting a small toilet on the bed, or skipping the nap altogether for a few days. Yesterday, she did skip the nap, and by dinnertime she had a grimace and was walking a little funny. I knew she had to go #2. She peed several times, and each time I acted like a cheerleader, trying to get her to make a deposit in the toilet. She informed me that she would not be pooping in the toilet.

Until . . .


POOPING FOR DISNEY

a play in one act


(inspired by true events)

A young girl is seated on the potty. Her mother is seated nearby.

MOMMY: India, why don't you try to put a poop in the potty.

INDIA: No. I don't want to.

MOMMY: You're a big girl now, and big girls go poop on the potty. Gabriella and Sharpay go poop on the potty.

INDIA: No. I don't want to.

MOMMY: If you put a poop in the potty, you can open the box with your new Tinkerbell shoes and wear them all day tomorrow.

INDIA: No. I don't want to.

MOMMY: (thinking back to India's daily dinnertime prayers thanking the Lord for her family and Disneyland) I have an idea. How about if you put a poop in the potty we can go to Disneyland?

INDIA: Disneyland????????

(cue pooping sounds)

MOMMY: (weeping tears of joy and disbelief) INDIA!!! You did it!! I'm so proud of you! Daddy, look! She did it! She went poop in the potty!

INDIA: I pooped in the potty and now I get to go to Disneyland!

JAFTA: (entering room after overhearing) What? I wanna poop and go to Disney!

Jafta physically pushes India off of potty and sits down himself. Commence forcible pushing and grunting

JAFTA: (strained) I can do it, too! I'm gonna poop, too!

MOMMY: Jafta, no. Wait, honey, stop. You don't need to . . .

JAFTA: I'm gonna poop so I can go to Disney!

MOMMY: Jafta, stop. You're gonna hurt . . .

JAFTA(grunting like a woman in childbirth) UGH! UnghErrrAUGH.

Daddy enters room, alarmed.

DADDY: Kristen, make him stop. He's gonna give himself a hernia.

KRISTEN: You mean a hemorrhoid?

DADDY: Kristen, make him stop. He's gonna give himself a hemorrhoid.

JAFTAUghhhhhGrrrrr. I can do it. I can . . .

KRISTEN: Jafta, stop!

*plop*

JAFTA: Yes! I can go! I can go to Disney!

KRISTEN: Jafta, you didn't need to . . .

*plop*

JAFTA: More poop! That means I get to go to even more places!

INDIA: (pushing Jafta aside) I wanna poop more! I wanna poop more!

and scene.

Guess where we're going tomorrow?

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Austin talks Invisalign (VIDEO)

This post was sponsored by Invisalign® clear aligners. My nephew and mom are receiving complimentary Invisalign treatment as they share their Invisalign journey.

It's been almost six months now since I've started documenting my nephew’s journey with Invisalign clear aligners, and he has had some incredible results! For those of you who are not familiar with Invisalign Teen®, it’s a series of nearly invisible, removable aligners that are used to gradually (and discreetly) straighten teeth. My nephew is a theater student who really wanted to have his teeth straightened, but he wanted to avoid the look of metal braces that would affect his chances at getting certain roles.

Here's a video of Austin talking about the process so far. Check out those teeth!




If you are interested in Invisalign Teen treatment, you can request more info here.



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Wednesday's Child: Meet Jaime

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday's Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.



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What I want you to know about how wonderful it is to have a child with down syndrome

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s guest post is by Nora.



Yesterday my son Kelly came with a special gift for me. He had carefully picked me a lovely bouquet…of dandelions.

I have a bunch of kids, so this was not my first bouquet of dandelions, but it was my first bunch from Kelly.  As I was putting the vase on my windowsill, it struck me how these particular flowers could actually be used as a metaphor for Kelly’s presence in our lives.
Kelly arrived after my 3rd uneventful pregnancy and uncomplicated home-birth. When he was born he did not make a sound. Not one sound.
He just gazed at me. Even though I knew this was not “normal,” it was absolutely amazing.
The midwife recorded his apgar and then gently suggested we head to the hospital to get him checked out.  In retrospect, it is obvious that she knew right away that something was amiss, but didn’t feel it was her place to make the diagnosis, or maybe she just wanted to let us bask in the post-birth bliss for a while longer.
We decided to travel to a larger hospital over an hour from our home to get Kelly checked out. Having all of those post-birth endorphins raging through my body, I did not for one minute think anything was wrong with my baby. When we were finally seen at the hospital, the doctors all exchanged knowing glances, but I was still oblivious. Halfway through his examination, Kelly had an apneic episode (he briefly stopped breathing) and was rushed from the room.  They left us sitting alone and stunned.  A few minutes later a group of doctors returned to the room and gave us Kelly’s diagnosis: Down Syndrome.
WHAT?!
All I can think of are cliches to describe the moment: I was blindsided.  The wind was knocked out of me. The bottom dropped out. They all fit. The doctors left my husband and I alone in a stark, strange hospital room where we wept and held each other, stunned and disbelieving.
Kelly had to be admitted to the hospital to be monitored for a possible heart condition. I felt like my world was falling apart. How could this be? Why us? We can’t have a handicapped child…can we?
And yet, he was my baby.
In the NICU filled with teenie, tiny premature babies, there was jumbo Kelly (he was 8.5 lbs) lying there all pink and cute. Thankfully, he took to nursing right away and the wonderful nurses made sure we got plenty of private time. I was in love.
When Kelly came home to his brothers, I took the oldest aside to explain about Kelly.  I was a bit nervous about this. Luke was 6 at the time and already very intense. I explained that Kelly might take a bit longer to crawl and walk than his younger brother had and that things would go at Kelly’s own special pace.  Luke just looked at me, looked adoringly at Kelly and simply said, “OK, Mama.” He walked away and went on playing.
Those two words, “Ok, Mama,”  taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life: We were still given a gift. It may not have been the gift that I was expecting, but it was still fabulously beautiful and if I shifted my attitude away from the drama and into the awe, all would be well.
Kelly is now 12 years old. He delights us everyday. Yes, he can be a challenge at times, but not any more than his “typically developing” siblings.
In fact, Kelly is our greatest teacher. He lives fully into the present every single day. He doesn’t lament the past or yearn for the future. He is just focused on what is fun this very second.  He does whatever strikes his fancy most of the time and doesn’t give two hoots about what people think of him. Wear my sister’s black patent leather high heeled boots to the school craft fair? Why not, if I like them?  Break into an impromptu dance in the middle of downtown when I hear some music I like? Why wouldn’t I?
This kid has it made.
Some people still feel pity for Kelly and/or our family because of his Down Syndrome. These are the people that do not/will not get  it. I will never forget a visit I had with a local health professional. He was taking my health history and I mentioned I had a son with Down Syndrome. He sighed with a weight of sadness and said to me, “What a struggle.” Now when Kelly is skipping around singing or dancing to some music he loves, my husband and I just look at each other with a smile and say “Yes, what a terrible struggle.”
Another time, when I was pregnant with my fourth child, Kelly’s physical therapist asked Kelly’s older brother Calvin if he wanted a brother or a sister. Calvin quickly replied that he wanted a girl with Down Syndrome. While I found this reply completely adorable, the therapist surprised me by looking at me sympathetically and saying, “He doesn’t understand what that actually means.” Wow, I was floored. I didn’t have the guts at the time to respond, “No, you don’t.”
We should all envy Kelly. He is truly free. No one expects him to study hard and get a stable job and make lots of money and pay the bills and take care of the kids and blah, blah, blah… He never has to get on that wheel. Of course, none of us do, really, but things happen and the expectation is there and one-thing-leads-to-another and suddenly you have a mortgage and two kids and things ain’t so free anymore.
My point is not that a “normal” life is dismal. I happen to live one that is full of joy (even with the mortgage). It is just that this alternative life looks pretty appealing, too. We get so stuck in thinking that there is only one way to live and anything other than that must be inferior.
Like a bouquet of dandelions. Who says that cheery little flower is inferior to a rose or a daisy? Not Kelly. He just picks them and smells them and presents them proudly without caring one bit about the overall health of the perfect lawn. Then he will spend the rest of the day doing whatever strikes his fancy.

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The inconvenient truth about your Halloween chocolate and forced child labor

Three years I wrote a ridiculous post about deciding on a new place to buy my coffee . . . a place where the prices were really low because the store relied on children to work for little money.  My intention was to point out how selfish it sounds for someone to willingly turn a blind eye to social injustices just because we want to pay less for something we like, and how shallow our justifications sound.  I used coffee as an example because it’s one of those indulgences that people claim they can’t live without.  Shortly after, I wrote a post detailing the human rights abuses involved in the manufacturing of most of the commercial Halloween candy we purchase this time of year. I’m posting again, because I think it’s an important message. If you read this previously, scroll down to the bottom for an update on Hershey’s and Nestle. And please consider sharing this so others can know the truth.  I’ve included a comprehensive guide to buying ethical Halloween treats here.

The picture below is a photo of a young child gathering pods to harvest cocoa beans.  There are hundreds of thousands of children in West Africa who do this work.  Young children. Children who should be attending school and having a childhood. And they are working for most of the mainstream chocolate providers in the USA.    A report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture about cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions.  Some of them have been taken from their families, or sold as servants.  U.S. chocolate manufacturers have claimed they are not responsible for the conditions on cocoa plantations since they don't own them.  This includes Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the US division of Cadbury . . . who collectively represent pretty much every snack-size candy bar that will be available in stores this Halloween. 
 

Did your child's Halloween chocolate come at the expense of another child?

The connection between most major candy bar manufacturers and child slavery is one of the world’s best kept secrets. The US government is currently being sued by the International Labor Rights Fund for failing to enforce laws prohibiting the import of products made with child labor, and the chocolate industry has failed to meet numerous deadlines set by Congress for regulating.  A few major chocolate companies have done a great job in the last year with some smoke-and-mirror campaigns . . . either offering an obscure fair-trade chocolate bar or making a show of giving to charities that support farmers. But these actions do not change the fact that they don’t want to take the necessary steps to avoid the human rights abuse of children.  

But honestly, what concerns me even more is that we, as consumers, are not demanding that this be stopped.  People continue to buy chocolate even after learning about the harm to children in Africa.  I’ve heard excuses from people in my own life that sound pretty similar to the ones I made in the coffee post.  We rationalize that we can’t afford fair-trade.  We joke about how addicted we are.  We justify that we can’t change everything.  And I think secretly, we don’t relate because these are kids in a far-off country, and not our own.  It’s okay as long as we don’t have to see it happening right in front of us.

Did you know thousands of children are trafficked each year to farm cocoa for American chocolate companies?
Well, I’m here to ruin it for you.  Now you know.  We can’t keep looking away.  If we choose willful ignorance on this one, then we are no better than the people who are directly forcing children to work.  I’ve embedded a BBC documentary about this issue below.   Even the first ten-minute segment is eye-opening, but the whole thing will wreck you . . . and you will be better for it.  Bookmark this and watch it later.  Watch it with your kids.  Jafta saw this last year and despite his love of chocolate, he is the most fervent fair trade advocate I know after seeing this.  Share it with your friends.  Blog about it.  We’re breaking up with commercial chocolate, or buying fair trade. I hope you will, too.






 

UPDATE:

In November of 2011, the Louisiana Municipal Police Employee's Retirement System, a public pension fund with holdings in Hershey Co., filed a lawsuit against Hershey’s. The suit claims that Hershey's board knew for as many as 11 years that its cocoa came from West African suppliers that used child slave labor to harvest crops. The fund accuses Hershey of ignoring domestic and foreign human trafficking laws.

Whole Foods Markets announced it will stop selling Hershey's high-end Scharffen Berger brand chocolate products over the issue of child labor.

On January 31st 2012, in what was likely a response to the growing bad press about child labor practices, Hershey’s made an announcement regarding child labor in their supply line. You can read the entire statement here.

In March of 2014, a Louisiana pension fund raised questions about Hershey executives’ knowledge of how much of the company’s cocoa, grown in West Africa, may have been produced by child slaves. The suit said Hershey officials refused to ensure all its West African cocoa suppliers honored international child-labor restrictions and said some retailers have voiced concerns over the company’s “failure to remedy child labor problems in the supply chain.”

Again, it’s great that Hershey’s is creating a fair-trade line, but why not apply this standard to all of their products?  Fair trade shouldn’t be a specialty item, and many international rights groups are still skeptical. You can read more about that here.

Now let’s look at the strides Nestle has made:
Nestle announced they were submitting to a study by the Fair Labor Association to determine if child labor actually did exist in their supply chain. This was a bit of a PR move since Nestle signed the Harkin Engel Protocol and vowed to remedy the child labor issues in their company over ten years ago. Very little effort was made by the companies involved which resulted in only about 5% improvement over the last 10 years. So I’m slightly unimpressed that they are now making a public show of “getting to the bottom of this”, but again – it’s a step.

The findings of the Fair Labor Association?  There is indeed child labor in the Nestle supply chain. Reuters reported: “Child labour is still widespread on Ivory Coast cocoa farms supplying Nestle, an investigation by a workers’ rights group has found, prompting the world’s biggest food group to pledge a redoubling of efforts to stamp out the practice.”  Nestle has made several public statements about their commitment to stopping this and their strategies include producing an illustrated guide to the supplier code and educating their farmers not to employ children. Still, Nestle is not willing to submit to fair trade certification, which would be the best way to insure compliance. The International Labor Rights Fund names Nestle as one of the top 14 companies behind the worst labor abuses.

This year, CNN returned to the Ivory Coast and did another documentary. It revealed that while child labor is still not hard to find, there has been some slow progress.

Cocoa-nomics: A CNN Freedom Project documentary from Matthew Percival on Vimeo.

The bottom line is this: profit margins are likely going to take a dip if these companies really step it up, and it’s likely that chocolate prices will go up, too. But I think that we, as a society, need to be willing to see this through, even if it costs us something. Because no bar of chocolate is worth robbing a child of their education and childhood.

Buy fair trade. Don't support child labor for cheaper chocolate this Halloween. Or ever.
If you are motivated to make your Halloween purchases more ethical check out this comprehensive guide to buying ethical Halloween treats.

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