Stranger Danger

November 15, 2010 at 10:56 pm (Uncategorized)

I think every parent’s worst nightmare is having a child get kidnapped. Even typing the words makes me feel nauseous. Creating a sense of stranger danger is something that every parent needs to think of, but this becomes especially important when parenting a child with “special needs”. By special needs I am referring to children with autism spectrum disorders, down syndrome, ADHD, adopted children, traumatized children, children with attachment issues, and the list goes on. I am by no means saying that all of these children are more vulnerable to tragedies such as kidnapping, but many of them are more vulnerable. This is one of the many reasons we feel so strongly about attachment parenting.

Both of our kids definitely liked us from the beginning. Ekaete was, in fact, very clingy to us by the time we were finally able to hold her in the hospital. She knew who I was (the only person who wasn’t “hurting” her in there) and held my hand so tightly day and night. Andikpeme was loving all of the attention and affection he was receiving and to this day talks about those first days like they were some of the best of his life. But it would have been naive to see this as attachment or to think that this connection was enough to create a sense of stranger danger in either of them. So we have worked at this for the last 8 months and I am happy to report we have made a lot of progress in this area.

Ekaete definitely fears strangers. She currently cries when men, in particular, smile or talk to her. (We’re really hoping this stage lasts another 23 years or so! 😉 ) It was not difficult to teach her this, but I think the attachment parenting helped speed this process along beautifully!

This journey with Andikpeme has been a little bit more challenging. When we used to take him out, he would often run (not because he was angry or wanted to get away from me/us), but just because he’s a runner and the world is a very exciting place. The scary thing about it was that he wouldn’t stop at any point to see if he could see me still, he was unable to answer the questions, “What is your name?” or “What’s your mother’s name?”, and as his dad used to say, he would go with someone for a potato even though he didn’t know what a potato was! On one particular occassion this summer, we were in line paying for some items at the grocery store. The man in line behind us was admiring my cuties and chatting it up with A. He was going on and on about how he’d like to take him home with him; how he had horses, dogs, chickens, blah blah blah. I was somewhat cold with him and made comments to A. like, “We wouldn’t go with you…you’re a stranger. We like to stay with our family!” As we walked into the parking lot, A. and I walked hand-in-hand chatting. Next thing I knew, my son was letting go of my hand and began to walk away from our vehicle. When I asked him where he was going he said, “I’m going to his house to play with his chickens”. This is after hundreds of conversations about strangers, the use social stories, role-playing, and several months of attachment parenting. A heart-breaking moment. We continued doing what we were doing and by September when another creepy old man invited Ekaete to come sit with him at a restaurant, A. sternly responded, “No she doesn’t want to sit with you! You’re a stranger and she wants to stay with her family!!” (Yes, people are weird and totally inappropriate!) We’ve had several moments like this since and lots of good questions from him about strangers and boundaries.

We will continue to work on attachment and stranger danger with all of our kids, but we are grateful for the progress made so far. I do not want paranoid kids, but I want them to be protected, to know that they will always be with us, and to know what to do if they are ever in an unsafe situation.

Who wouldn't want to protect these precious faces?!


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Our love for animals

November 12, 2010 at 4:38 pm (Uncategorized)

Words of wisdom about animals, courtesy of Andikpeme!

1) Daddy and Andikpeme were reading a book about sea creatures:

Brendan: And that’s a dolphin…

A: I please eat it daddy?

2) A nice day at the zoo

A: Oooh mommy! Look at the horses!

Me: Yes, they are called miniature horses

A: I please ride it mommy?

Me: Ummm no, those horses are not for riding

A: OK. I’ll ride the goose then! (Pointing to a little rooster)

Me: I don’t think his little legs could hold you up. Sorry A….

3. We have had numerous issues with keeping the blessed fish tank in A.’s room, but despite all the incidents we continue to have faith and hope that he will stop tormenting his poor fish. I heard some suspicious noises in his room during quiet time so I went in to check on him. A. stood there, guilty as hell, with a wet fish net in one hand and a bag in the other.

Me: What are you doing?

A: I wanted to hold them for a long time cause….cause…cause I love them.

4. We always have a delicious Sunday brunch and A. is sometimes lucky enough to get some diluted juice. (Yes, we really are that lame!) A. had chugged his first glass of diluted juice….

A: Can I please have another glass of juice?

Me: You already had a glass of juice. If you’re still thirsty, you can drink water.

A: But my fishy died today…

For a child who was very interested in watching his deceased pet get flusehd down the toilet, he sure was ready to use his “grief” for something!

Everyone in our family truly does love animals…. 🙂

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