How to alienate all my readers at once

I may not have internet access for a few days, as we are leaving the temporary housing (can you hear angels singing?) and going to the house for good today.  Who knows if the internet access will actually kick-start on Saturday as it is supposed to…  In the meantime, I thought I would try to offend a few people before the weekend.  


            J and I are funny about drugs.  We are probably the only thirty-something couple in America with absolutely no experience in illegal drugs.  I mean it.  Neither of us has so much as held a joint.  We figure at least we won’t have the “tell a lie/bad role model” dilemma when our kids are thirteen.  J never tried illegal substances because he is famously averse to losing control.  I never tried them because I am a goody-two-shoes.

            More to the point, I am afraid of breaking rules because I might get caught.  I break the stupid ones, of course, the moronic implied rules about appropriate clothing or whether I can talk about sex in the classroom. (I taught ENGLIGH, for heaven’s sake.  How the hell do you teach Hawthorne without mentioning sex?)  But the strict rules, the ones that are actually written down?  Those I follow.  I don’t eat soft cheese while pregnant.  I use commas when and only when they are called for.  I never answer my cell phone in the preschool.  And I do not do illegal drugs.  Someone might catch me.

            Even as I have gotten older and more comfortable with rule-bending, I have no desire to try such substances.  In fact, the older I get, the fewer drugs of any kind interest me.   I never liked soda (nasty bubbles).  I gave up caffeine years ago.  I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for so long, I have forgotten what alcohol tastes like and is supposed to do.  Every time I wean a kid and pick up a glass of wine, I seem to find myself pregnant all over again.  I hope to enjoy a glass of wine again someday, although at this point my tolerance is probably so low I won’t make it past the first four sips.

            J, too, skips alcohol on most occasions, but that is because he figures he’d rather save the calories for cookies.  You gotta love a man with priorities.

            In the past few years, I have tried to cut out substances that are just not what nature intended.  I have gone as organic as possible.  I buy hormone-free milk.  I don’t paint my nails, my face (OK, now and then, with natural cosmetics), or my hair.  I use the most natural cleaning agents I can find for my body, my children, and my home.  I avoid plastic sippy cups, except in the case of my straw-addicted son.  I refuse to get back on the pill, which led to one rather surprising pink line.

            And I don’t drug my kids.

            I am more than willing to medicate them when necessary.  We use fever reducers because fevers can be dangerous.  But I don’t give them pain-killers for teething.  We have used Benadryl for an allergic reaction, but I would never give it to them to make a flight easier.  Unless a cough seems to be threatening some sort of complications, you can bet you’ll not find me serving up cough medicine in my house, especially to kids as young as mine. 

            The doctor wants Zachary on allergy medication, and perhaps it will come to that.  But neither J nor I wants to go to meds before we try controlling the environment in which he lives and sleeps.  There are children who need medication for ADHD or OCD and those kids should be given the pharmaceutical help that they need, but there are other kids whose parents and doctors rush to those medications because they are a ready solution.  As a teacher, I have seen too much over-medication.  The meds seem a last resort to us.  We don’t give our kids drugs just to make our lives easier.*  If we wanted to make our lives easier, we should have gotten goldfish, instead.

            We do, however, give our kids vaccines.  That is about health, theirs or someone else’s.  There is no medical evidence that vaccines cause autism.  There is a great deal of medical evidence that German Measles kills people.  And, while folks love to claim that “we all had chicken pox and it never killed any of us,” the fact is it does kill people.  Others may not feel obligated towards those with immunity problems, but I do.

            And mumps is a really, really yucky illness.

            So, we are first in line to immunize our kids.  Yes, there are sometimes complications, but the same can be said of the various letters of hepatitis.  So, please do not leave comments listing all the possible side-effects of vaccines or warning that your mother’s hairdresser swears it caused her child’s club foot.  I have heard it all, and I am not buying.  (Plus, I have probably been polite enough to avoid leaving comments on a post of yours about vaccination.  This is my blog, and while I welcome differences of opinion on most topics, I will not use it as a forum for ideas I believe are erroneous and deeply dangerous.)

            When the benefits of a medication far outweigh the risks, we are all for it.  All drugs have the potential for negative side-effects, and that is a risk J and I are not willing to take just to get our kids to be more docile or because we do not feel like getting up at night when they are sick.  We are, however, more than ready to help prevent rubella.

            Like I said, we are funny about drugs.

* You will note, I am not saying all kids given medication for their conditions are being over-drugged or that their parents are lazy.  I am saying the kids given drugs first because it is easiest are being done a disservice. 

33 responses to “How to alienate all my readers at once

  1. I agree fully. We are not necessarily anti-drugs but it’ll definitely not be the first thing we look to. If all other avenues have failed we’ll do it. Luckily Monkey’s care provider has an extensive herbal background so she would offer up those ideas first.

    Re: immunization – to each their own, dude. And I appreciate you not calling me an idiot. lol.

  2. Hey, not that I’m advocating dosing indiscriminately on homeopathic stuff either, but you might like to check out the kids’ section at Whole Foods (or similar). They have natural cough medicines, teething tablets, and other remedies that we’ve found effective, gentle, and they have ingredients that we can actually pronounce. After a scary incident where I had to inform Bean’s pediatrician about a recall of a cold medicine he’d prescribed to our son because several babies had died from it (too sedating), I pretty much decided to do my own research before I took a doctor’s advice (even a good doctor we trust) blindly.

    Also, we do vaccinate as well. It wasn’t so long ago that thousands of children routinely died from the diseases we’ve all but dismissed. While I agree that every parent needs to make the decision themselves, and I do advocate for my son to never get more than 2 shots at once, I’m simply not willing to take the risk of him contracting something awful.

  3. I find this dichotomy particularly interesting: The Gates Foundation and others are spending millions (billions?) of dollars to see that children in developing nations get vaccinated so they don’t die of preventable diseases. Some parents in the US and other developed nations are choosing not to get their kids vaccinated. Hmmmm. Would parents be able to make this choice if other parents did not vaccinate their kids so these preventable diseases are/were nearly eradicated?

    I’m definitely no expert. I have tried to be informed and read and understand the science. One of my sisters is a pediatrician practicing traditional Western medicine. Yet I do not have an autistic child so I cannot understand that turmoil.

    I did however work at a boarding school where the campus had to shut down and everyone had to be quarantined for over a week due to a visiting tennis player, who had never been vaccinated, brought more than an extra racket to the match….

  4. I really appreciate Sara’s comment. It does seem like a luxury to be able to not vaccinate your kids in America. If we all stopped, then we would run the risk of serious epidemics here.

    I share your sentiments Emily. I’ve never done an illegal drug myself because I too am a goody-two-shoes. But I do loooove caffeine and wine to no good end.

  5. I am not alienated…In fact, I think I might have been able to write that entire post – except I did drink quite a lot of alcohol in college, but after I was the legal age.

    My biggest gripe with ADHD is that I see so many parents thinking that medication alone is the answer. There are kids that should be medicated, but there are also a lot of behavioral and cognitive interventions that should be tried first and in conjunction with medication, if it comes to that. Just putting a kid on meds and then expecting him to be an A student, is not the answer.

    My middle son was diagnosed last year with a mild form of epilepsy. He has had two seizures, that we know about, in 9 years. We will not medicate him unless things change and his daily life is compromised. Someone told me that his epilepsy may have been caused by vaccinating him. Maybe, but he also could have a lot of other terrible illnesses from not being vaccinated, and I have no proof that the statement was true. I do have proof that he will not get: measles, mumps…

  6. What gets me is the entire aisle devoted to unnecessary over-the-counter cold remedies. I’ve had a cold – just a cold that turned into a cough – for about as long as it takes for a cold to run its course, and my husband keeps haranguing me to call the doctor. That’s nothing but a waste of everyone’s time. When we go in for the kids’ well visits, their doctors are always shocked when they check the records and we haven’t been in for a year. Why should I pay them to tell me to push fluids?

    (I just couldn’t abide the “soft cheese” rule.)

  7. ukrainemom

    I understand parents who waiver on the vaccine issue in regards to autism. To see a child slip away before your eyes is devastating and I think if I were in those shoes, I would be reaching out for any piece of the puzzle that would bring him or her back, however anecdotal it is.

    With that being said, we have chosen to fully vaccinate each of our girls.

    After my child was diagnosed with Down syndrome, I looked in to anecodotal vitamins claiming to increase development and cognition. We even ordered a round and tried it.

    The thing that stuck out to me the most from your post was the comma remarks. I am addicted to using commas, too, much, and, in, the, wrong, spots. Sigh.

  8. The thing that bothers me about medicating children is the trend toward medicating them into compliance. I can understand it for illness – but not manufactured illness that really translates to “the child is being inconvenient. He won’t sit still or she can’t concentrate for 6 hours at a time.”

  9. I agree with your stance on medication. We use it very, very rarely and always have. Child 3 developed activity-induced asthma when we moved from the nice sea-level coast to the arid, high, where’s-the-oxygen desert and after a year or so of occasional mild events I took the kid in to be seen. Result? Given an inhaler which has been used once. Once. After all my suggestion that maybe a gradual increase of activity rather than 0 to 60 in nothing flat would help It finally worked that out on Its own and has had hardly an issue since.

    Oh, and we vaccinated totally. Those illnesses are not eradicated and with modern travel it’s all too easy to encounter a bug somewhere. Knew a kid who got measles on a school trip to middle Europe – very frightening and horribly guilt producing for the poor mum who was only doing what she felt was right. So tough to make those calls isn’t it?

  10. You didn’t alienate me 🙂

  11. I could have written that post (though not as well). We rarely give our kids medication. I do occasionally give them a small dose of Motrin if they are in so much pain that they can’t sleep, even with our comfort measures.

    And my kids get all of their vaccinations. My father, who was a doctor, always said that American parents had the luxury to chose not to vaccinate because the majority of parents in the developed world did vaccinate. Besides, we are moving to China, and they won’t let us in if the kids aren’t vaccinated!

    I remember reading somewhere (and wish I could find it again) how the main research findings linking vaccines and autism were altered and that the research actually didn’t prove anything. I think there was a book about that recently. Maybe I read it on Notes from the Trenches…

    Anyway, you didn’t alienate me.

  12. I agree with you for the most part. I have done my fair share of drinking (I’m from Wisconsin, you know) but I never really did any drugs. I just always wondered why a person would try something that they would eventually have to quit.
    And we vaccinate too, although I do think the FDA needs to looking into adjusting vaccines so that they are safer for EVERY kid.

  13. We’re funny about drugs, too. We have the same claim on the illegal drugs and the alcohol, although Brian will happily trade in his cookie-calories for a single beer while he’s grilling out. I actually had a conversation this week with my OB about taking as few pain medications in the hospital as possible after my next c-section. The side effects to the drugs were more disturbing than the pain last time, and this time I’d like to avoid that, if at all possible.

    We gave Asher daily allergy medicine for a set period of time at my pediatrician’s advice, though it was not without debate. It seems to have paid off for us, but I completely understand your hesitation – we had it, too.

    We have immunized Asher, but we have not done full immunizations in the second year. My intention is to catch him up in his 3rd, though, when language skills (and his brain) are fully developed. This is my own personal ass-backwards logic that really cannot be defended well, except to say my line of work (teaching autistic children) has made me gun shy. But again, I agree with you. Immunizations feel like the socially responsible thing to do, and I am not willing to ride on the backs of all the other kids (and parents) who have been immunized. They had an outbreak of measles recently in California, though I’m sure you heard about it. I’m going from memory, but I believe one child died.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion, and for being so respectful in giving it about other things. Parenting is funny business, isn’t it? We have in common this fierce love for our children, but it often leads us in different directions. Go figure.

  14. I find it annoying to think that the things you said alienate people. But they do. I LOVE what you said about not leaving nasty comments on other blogs about your differences of opinions. I doubt when others write things with which you do not agree, you are not alienated.

    Being alienated is a choice. Some of the dearest people in my life do not agree with me about a lot of things, but that does not separate us. People who are alienated by what someone else says or writes (unless it’s blatantly maliciouis) WANT to be alienated.

    Anyway, I agree with you from the top to the bottom of this post. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t mean I wouldn’t read your blog again or felt horrible about myself. I appreciate that you have what it takes to say all that knowing that you risk alienating readers.

  15. She Who Will Remain Nameless

    I always feel I do more of a disservice to my kids by not medicating them, so you’ve made me feel better. Our little one has asthma, but we only use her nebulizer as needed, not as prescribed, because her case is mild. When she had minor surgery though, I felt badly about not topping off her codeine as prescribed because she wasn’t complaining. Turns out she wasn’t complaining because she didn’t know a top off was an option and then she ended up howling. Yikes.

    We vaccinate, but I did my homework around that whole issue, and we refused to allow the MMR given in one dose….we had the shots provided in separate doses and we had them administered well after the age of 4, just in time for school.

  16. I agree with (almost) everything that you wrote, Emily!! I still wear make up when I have time in the morning to apply it :). We don’t dole out Motrin or Tylenol willy nilly, our little one only uses his asthma medication when needed, and we have vaccinated the boys.
    Two weeks ago, we took a family trip to a local dog park with our puppy. Very long story short, a dog bite from an unknown dog left us in the hospital with our oldest. Because we didn’t know the dog and the owner fled the area after the bite, we had to make the decision weather or not to begin the series of Rabies vaccinations. We debated, and with the help of the attending physician, we consulted no fewer than 4 other doctors. In the end, even though the chances of a domesticated pet carrying rabies is exceedingly small, we choose to go forward and begin the treatment.

  17. Youa re NOT alone! I just recently had a glass of wine, as I am done nursing and we aren’t planning anymore kidlets…we vaccinate, have never touched drugs, and motrin is our friend when it comes to fevers.

  18. I find on my own blog that the posts which I believe will alienate a load of people end up offending almost no one. It’s a good thing!

    I didn’t pause for a moment when thinking about P’s vaccinations. Didn’t all this paranoia start with Wakefield’s Lancet publication in 1998, the findings of which were completely debunked?

    I am guilty of sometimes giving P Medised, as teething and their related colds knock her for six. Other than that, not too keen on pumping her full of meds, oddly enough.

  19. I’ve never used illegal drugs, either. Partly because I was a goody-two-shoes when the opportunity was there, and also because there were few opportunities. Like you, I’m glad I can say to my kids that I never did.

    We vaccinate. And I do try not to medicate much. Just myself, really. 😉 And I’m mostly too disorganized to have wine on hand when I want it.

  20. happy moving!

    (we vaccinate, too, although not against chicken pox, but that’s another story…)

  21. Sue Ann Edwards

    Have you ever had anyone tell you, honestly, that all your fear based decisions are symptoms of being a neurotic?

    You MIGHT try being both accountable and responsible for the peptide production of YOUR OWN hypothalamus and, developing some emotional coping skills as cures for your neurosis.

    For if I had to live with you in my head, I’d be a sniveling neurotic, too.

  22. What Chani said.

    I’m not alienated in the slightest.

  23. Nor am I alienated. You are NOT the only couple to never have done illegal drugs. My husband and I thought WE were the only ones. He was too busy being an athlete, and I was both too goody-goody and already paranoid enough without pharmacologic intervention.

    As for medications, despite being married to a physician, we minimally medicate our son. However, in the last year with more investigation into his asthma and allergies, we did embark on a substantial daily medication program. We did couple it with environmental interventions, but we found the daily antihistamine really did make a difference in many subtle areas we hadn’t noticed.

    I whole-heartedly agree about the vaccination issues also. I find it frustrating the lack of education or perhaps misunderstandings of this issue. It is indeed a luxury for Americans to be able to decline vaccination. As a veterinarian, I’ve been taught the details of vaccination and how it affects “herd health.” Choosing not to vaccinate your child does mean you are riding on the coat tails of all the children that do get vaccinated. And the facts are that if not enough children in a population are vaccinated, then no one gains protections. I’m not saying there aren’t instances where certain children should not receive vaccines, there certainly are – but more people need to realize the impact of declining vaccines doesn’t just effect their family, it effects the entire community. Nuf said.

    Congrats on the move!

  24. I’ve never taken a drug either, and agree completely about both vaccinations and about keeping children away whenever possible from other forms of medicines.

    So not offended at all – on which point I am still feeling really stupid about earlier – all those years honing my reading skills! Duh! 🙂

    Best of luck with the moving – so glad you’ll have a proper home base soon.

  25. We’re all sitting here puffing on a fat spliff together. The kids had their nightly cough medicine already (not that they’re sick or anything, but dayung, they do like that grape flavor) and now we’re just toking to take that edge off. Beer just doesn’t work like it used to for that.

    So I, for one, am very very alienated.

  26. “We have used Benadryl for an allergic reaction, but I would never give it to them to make a flight easier.”

    Oops – I suggested that, sorry. Each to their own in the end. I only give my kids meds if I think they need them, I’m not a pill popper myself so it’s not in my nature.

    I’ve done my share of illegal drugs though, judging my your comments I’m in the minority.

  27. Here I got all excited about being offended and alienated – but I totally agree with you on all points. I vaccinated my son but have never given him any meds apart from the occasional Tylenol to bring down a high fever. But not Tylenol because they were fussy. And I did buy Benadryl when we started exploring new foods around 12 months, but it remains unopened and I would never use it for flights – even the frequent long ones we take.

    I know that the fact that I haven’t given him anything but Tylenol is something I should be grateful for – and I am. But as much as it points to his lack of hospital-able illnesses, it also points to long nights and hard work of applying steam or other non-medication solutions to miserable colds and other maladies (like teething).

    So, here here! Great post as always.

  28. Oh, I meant to say – we are also alike on the rules-following and breaking thing. I once described myself as “compliant” but the people around me protested, saying I was totally out of the box. Which is true, I am. But I also never, ever, ever get in trouble. 🙂

  29. Hee hee. I’m just like you – I follow the hard rules. I’ve never even held a joint either! I’m a drug-chicken.

    And we do vaccines for our kids. My SIL and BIL do not and she once said to me “no one gets polio anymore why would we vaccinate against that.” I bout bit my tongue off. People do still get it, and especially if my nephew grows up and travels to other parts of the world (a highly likely possibility), what if he’s not been immunized against these things? I just think it’s a knee jerk overreaction.

    Good post.


    Ok, clearly, I’m just kidding, but after your title I was looking forward to some really angry comments. 🙂

    Unfortunately, I pretty much agree with you. My husband and I have been discussing some of these things at length, lately. Our youngest daughter, who is 2, and our middle daughter who will be 10 this week, have allergies and asthma. Neither my husband nor I have allergies or asthma, and the amount of medicines that the pediatrician wants to keep them on is unsettling for us. We’re all for keeping their lungs clear and, you know, breathing in and out, but we’ve decided not to keep them on 5 perscriptions each when they don’t even have any symptoms.

    Great post, Emily.

  31. No alienation here! Even though I’m a non-vaccinating, former (before kids) drug user.

    I love what Chani said.

    We so rarely use any kind of medication that when I do decide to use it (recently, kiddie Tylenol to reduce a super-high fever), what we have is out of date. Then I feel like a bad poorly-prepared mom.

  32. Here here.

    (p.s. congrats on the long-awaited move!!)

  33. Count me in for the goody-two-shoes club. I’ve never even touched a cigarette (hate, hate, hate the smell of them) and I can’t stand the taste of alcohol so I rarely drink it. Luckily, I am just weird enough naturally that I’ve never felt the need for drugs or alcohol to enhance my personality or help me have a good time. 🙂