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July 19, 2012

Some still squeamish about public breast-feeding


Even with all the information out there nowadays promoting breast-feeding and nursing mothers’ rights, there are still breast-feeding-phobes among us. And what’s even more disturbing is that some of these phobes are parents themselves.

The recent incident at Pirates Cove Water Park in Colorado is a perfect example.
After complaints from other parents, a park employee asked a woman to either stop breast-feeding her 10-month-old son in the pool or to cover up or go somewhere private, such as a bathroom, out of respect for others. How is asking a woman to feed her baby in a disgusting bathroom respectful? The woman was nursing in the pool to keep an eye on her other children.

People who complained said their children were seeing too much. Apparently some still think a woman breast-feeding her baby is more obscene than women walking around in skimpy bikinis. The nursing mother’s response: “If you’re not prepared to have tough conversations with your children, then you should rethink parenting.” Ouch.

A group of women enraged about the incident staged a nurse-in a few days later. It’s disheartening that women feel they have to go to these extremes to fight for their rights and their children’s right to have a meal in public like everyone else.

According to an editorial by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey, “From business offices to high school classrooms, modest displays of cleavage are commonplace. Bolder up-front fashions are standard at dance clubs, proms, beaches and bowling alleys. Breasts are so out in the open in America these days that it has become ho-hum. Yet, when a new mom exposes far less skin while trying to satisfy a hungry baby, some people still get upset. Yes, some of them are crudely sexualizing this maternal function, but many others with a more traditional way of looking at the world are simply made uncomfortable when they observe a breastfeeding woman. For them, nursing is a purely private act and it should stay that way.”

Eating has never been a private act. If someone at your table was eating with his mouth open, would you ask him to go finish his meal in the bathroom because you’re seeing too much?

If you’re one of those folks who get uncomfortable around a nursing mother, please give her a break and get over it. She’s not doing it to upset you; she’s giving her hungry baby a meal.

Cartoon by David Horsey, LA Times


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July 9, 2012

Holding Leo's hand

I don't want to write this one. I figure if I don't, it will all go away and it'll turn out that we've overreacted, misunderstood, misdiagnosed... I figure if I don't acknowledge it publicly, it will go away privately, and I'll wake up tomorrow morning with Leo telling me, in a clear voice, that he's hungry and would like some breakfast, please.

Leo is now 3-and-a-half years old. We noticed a while ago that his speech skills were not developing the same as other children his age.

We figured at the time that every toddler develops at a different pace, so while we took notice of the delay, we weren't worried. Time passed. After he turned two, we had him screened. In many ways, he was on target with other kids his age. We were reassured.

But another year passed, and we watched as other kids his age were speaking more clearly and moving on to potty training and other typical milestones that didn't interest Leo in the slightest. He certainly says more than he used to. It's not as if there's been no progress at all. Still, you just know. Something's not right.

We talked to our pediatrician. She was familiar with the signs we described to her. She gave us one of those official-sounding diagnoses that's really designed to authorize more intense testing and screening. And that's what happened. After Leo turned 3, we confirmed what we needed to hear. Leo has what they call "pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified."

In plain English, Leo is sort of autistic. I don't want to overstate his symptoms and make it sound as if he's headed for Rain Man territory. As autism goes, Leo's one of the lucky ones. We've heard of children much older than he who have yet to speak their first words. The more we become immersed in this, the more I'll be able to distinguish between Leo's challenge and those of other children on the autism spectrum.

At the same time, I don't want to minimize the challenge he's been handed (the challenge we've been handed right along with him). We're on this journey now because something's wrong, something we need to address. My wife, a Broward County school teacher, has been a rock throughout this process, making sure we are aware of every available resource for children on the autism spectrum. I've been a mess. But I know we're not alone. We have each other, and we know there's support for Leo and for those of us committed to his growth and development. We're not alone.

Next month, Leo will be a student at the Baudhuin Preschool in Davie. We hear great things about the place. In a lot of ways, Leo's journey begins there. And yes, his mom and I will be with him throughout this journey, holding Leo's hand every step of the way.

If it were up to parents, every child would be diagnosed with every possible illness and/or disorder. Although we had our suspicions, the key thing we did was talk to Leo's pediatrician. If you think your child is facing a similar challenge, or a different one, please talk to your pediatrician. There are organizations in Broward and Palm Beach that engage in autism research and treatment; we'll be writing about them as we get to know them along Leo's journey.

POSTED IN: Autism Spectrum (5), Rafael Olmeda 2012 (5)

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July 3, 2012

One Direction: Learning to stalk at a young age


My 13-year-old's dream came true this week: She not only went to the One Direction concerts in Fort Lauderdale AND Orlando, she got to to see the British boy toys up close and in person, by making a concerted effort to hunt them down.

At their Orlando recording studio. At their hotel. Next to their black tour bus as they entered the arena. And in the best part of the story, my daughter and her friends were driving back from Orlando to South Florida and were next to the Brits' bus on Florida's Turnpike. They even stopped at the same rest stop, where the boys bought hamburgers.

As a teen, I had crushes on David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman, but never would have thought to seek them out outside the concert venue. How did our kids become such gutsy thrill-seekers?

Photo: Scope/Abaca Press/MCT

POSTED IN: Lois Solomon (211)

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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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