Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Peelable nail polish: DANGER! (Or: Apparently Walmart is trying to kill me.)

I'm going to post this here, because it needs to be posted, and because most of the (five?) people who read this blog have young children.

On boxing day, I found these sets of peelable nail polish at Wal-Mart. They have 18 colors, some of which are super fun. Because I have to pay attention to my actual nail colour, I tend to avoid proper nail polish, and this seemed like a fun way to have a "spa day" with some of my favorite kids. There is no expiry date on the box (just a symbol that seems to indicate the product should be used or discarded within 12 months of opening it). I bought the Disney princess set, and what the hey, they're half price, I grabbed a Sofia the First set, too. There was no indication that either box had been opened, damaged, or tampered with.

A couple of days later (this being a busy time of year and all), I opened one of the boxes, and I chose a random bottle to try. The polish had solidified to the point where the brush tip stayed in the bottle, and I was holding a cap with a stick attached. More random selections from both boxes yielded similar results. Many bottles had clear liquid around the outside, and a solid blob in the middle, and no amount of shaking would help. Others were just dried right out.

Then I opened this bottle, which required very little force.

Instead of the cap unscrewing, the bottle literally broke apart in my hand. These are glass nail polish bottles. I was holding in my hand broken glass from a product whose packaging says "not for children under 3" like basically every toy says, and whose instructions simply say "with adult instruction, apply to clean nails." It was more by good luck than good management that I didn't slice my hand open. This one was from the Disney set.

Closer inspection of the bottles on the Sofia set revealed this one, cracked quite badly. 

Please note that these products are marketed to preschoolers.

These are going back to Wal-Mart tomorrow. I want you to be warned: if you see these things, and you just HAVE to buy them, be careful. Make sure your child is not the one who opens them. These products pose a serious safety hazard. Feel free to spread the word. I would hate for a little kid to be hurt by a randomly exploding nail polish bottle.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What does YOUR heart sound like?

Earlier this week, I sat on the floor with the two oldest preschoolers casually snuggled up on either side of me. We were reading a story together (am I the only one who always thought it was weird that Nicky Bunny had to strip down to his underwear at the doctor's office as if that were just normal routine?). At one point, the story describes Nicky Bunny's heartbeat: thump-thump, thunp-thump. And then (spoiler?) Nicky gets to hear the doctor's heart go thump-thump, thump-thump. 

The two children enjoyed all the thump-thumping, and we repeated it together a few times. One said "That's the sound your heart makes!"

"Well," I replied, "my heart actually makes a different sound, because I was born with a heart that is a little bit different from most people's hearts."

I saw two heads turn sharply towards me from other parts of the classroom. One belonged to a big brother whose baby sibling had heart surgery at birth. The other head belonged to the child who underwent a procedure to repair a hole between heart chambers this past autumn. The two children sitting with me looked at me with a little bit of awe. 

"What sound does your heart make?" asked the one.

"My heart sounds more like thumpa-dump, thumpa-dump," I told her.

"Oh," she said, "My heart goes thump-thump, thump-thump."

"Yes," I agreed, "Most people's hearts go thump-thump, thump-thump."

"Not mine!" proclaimed my other story-reading companion.

"Oh. What sound does your heart make?"

He thought for a moment, then made a wiggly gesture with his fingers. "My heart goes squiggy-squiggy!" 

We had a giggle together over how silly it would be if hearts actually went squiggy-squiggy, and returned to our story.

This subject is very dear to my heart (har har); I was, indeed, born with a congenital heart defect called a bicuspid aortic valve. Thankfully, there were no complications, as it was not detected until I was an adult. Our little childcare community happens to be quite strongly affected by congenital heart defects -- there are two staff families and two enrolled families which include people born with heart defects, and we find ourselves talking about hearts quite a bit around here.

Congenital heart defects affect about 1% of the population. They may cause no trouble, or they may be immediately life-threatening. Congenital heart defects cause more children to die each year than all forms of childhood cancer combined, but cancer research receives more than five times the funding that congenital heart defect funding receives. If you would like to help improve early detection rates, treatment options, and quality of life for the 180,000+ Canadian children and adults living with congenital heart defects, please consider supporting the Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance (CCHA). Your support could save lives (and maybe find out why young Mister Preschooler's heart goes squiggy-squiggy!).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The sweet little surprises

Usually, I'm one of the last people to leave at the end of the day. Today was one of the rare days when I left before most of the children did. I suppose that's what is like for people who work the opening shift! I said goodbye to my students, then answered the flurry of questions (where are you going? What's a conference? What things are you going to learn at your conference?), and started for the door. One of the oldest children chirped "okay, bye-bye!" Then he added "have a really nice day!" I thanked him, and wished him the same. He takes part in these particular social scripts every day, as we all do. It was sweet and touching that he decided to take the lead and initiate it this time. But what he said next surprised me, and I was struck by the genuine caring behind his well-wishing: "Drive and walk safe!" Thanks, buddy. I will.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You mean... For us?!

Monday afternoon, the first day back for many of us after the holidays, I sat down in the Preschool Room to help someone put on her shoes after nap time (this is the way many children ask me to spend a few moments with them, even children who know how to put their own shoes on). As often happens, A, now the Biggest Preschooler, climbed into my lap. 
"So," she asked me, her inflection and tone sounding very adult, "how was your holidays?"
"Oh they were very nice, thank you for asking," I replied, "I got to meet my new baby niece, and I did all kinds of fun things with the rest of my family, too. How were your holidays? Did you go to Manitoba?"
From there, we shared the things about our holidays that were exciting and that were similar. She asked a lot of questions, and wanted to know "what else did you do?" and was excited to discover we had both gone to a McDonald's with a PlayPlace. It was clear that she had been practising the art of conversation for about 4.5 years and decided to try it out on me that day.

Today, I sat in the rocking chair in the Preschool Room, and A once again climbed into my lap.
"So," she asked again, "How has your day been going?"
"Oh, my day has been great, thank you for asking," I replied, "I got to visit the Preschoolers, and I got to visit the Toddlers, and I got to visit the Preschoolers again -"
"What did you do in the office, with J?" she interrupted (J is our program director. I have been spending a lot of time doing administrative stuff for the past six months, including manual writing and policy audits, among other things).
"Well," I responded, "I sent some emails to your dad and to someone's mom, and -"
"But," she interrupted, "what did you do with J?"
"With J? Well we spent some time talking about stuff and making plans to make sure everything is good for all the kids."
"You mean... for us?" Suddenly, her face was full of awe.
"Yes, of course," I assured her, "everything we do here is for you and the other children. If it weren't for all of you, we wouldn't even be here."
"Really. This school exists to give children a place to learn and grow and to be healthy and safe. If there weren't any kids at this school, all the teachers would be somewhere else, and there wouldn't even be a school."
"No crafts?"
"Nope. Why would we make crafts if there were no kids here to make them with us and enjoy them? I'm serious; everything we do here is because we think it will help you and your friends learn and grow and be healthy and safe."
"Woah. I did not even realise that this whole entire place is here all because of us."

That's right, kid. You're that important. I hope you never forget it!