Monday, November 25, 2013

Parents and VIllages and Pagans

Lots of thoughts this week about how Pagan groups accept (or don't) the children of their members, and how that plays out at festivals. We are not at a point in our house where attending events regularly is doable in any sense of the word. But even if it were, I suspect we'd avoid most groups and events for the foreseeable future because of the way that most groups handle children.

There are basically 3 ways Pagan groups and events handle children. (1) No children, (2) Children are allowed if they can follow an adult standard of behavior that parents are expected to police, (3) Your kids, your problem - you want to let them run loose, great, if not, you figure out how to keep them under control.  There are a very few places that offer some sort of childcare, and when they do, it's usually organized by a parent.

Festival wise, I have a hard time justifying spending several hundred dollars to attend a weekend festival where I'll be lucky to participate in more than 2-3 scheduled events. If my husband and I each take a shift with both children so the other one can have a child free shift, and then we each take a shift with each of the children to do something fun with them independently, that's 4 shifts, and by the time you add in meals and a super early bedtime for Acorn, and that's probably most of the day.

Additionally, it's not like my children are old enough for me to leave them in a tent asleep while my husband and I do something fun after dark, so evening things are basically out, unless we each take a night solo (and really....what's the fun in that?).

This even boils over into teaching - because if I use one of my slots of time with no children to teach, then I really have very limited time to enjoy the rest of the event.

Even with childcare...we're probably still in that sort of spot, though Acorn could probably manage childcare if they were prepared for him (though given the difficulties finding him a babysitter, I'm guessing that most places still wouldn't keep him). Some places assume a more laissez faire, free range sort of child policy, and my kids are just not safe that way at this point - I desperately wish that they were, but to practice free range parenting your child has to be able (and willing) to consider the best course of action, and Acorn is not there yet - and Leaf is too young to expect that.

For local ritual groups, the same situation would apply either I have to find someone to babysit, or I have to find a way to convince my children to be still and quiet at all times, and to only act appropriately....and let's just say we're not there yet.

I wish more Pagan groups would get on with realizing that parents can still be active members with the right support, and that children aren't an annoyance to put in the closet.

I strongly suggest that you read Don't Leave Your Friends Behind, which is a book about parenting and social justice movements if you're interested in other ideas for how we could do better for families. (that's an affiliate link, by the way).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Beyond Special Needs 101

I'm feeling, lately, like there are 2 types of special needs support groups out there - the ones that take all comers (or at least, all those with the appropriate condition) where the new folks ask the same questions over and over and over again - even if there's a FAQ or "start here" page - and the ones that are...more mature. The families who've been at it a while eventually congregate in other communities, where the lines between conditions are more fuzzy, and the focus is more on practical day in and day out things.

While those groups that those new families find first are useful...I feel lately like I'm putting far more into them than I'm getting out of them. There are so many things we have done...and the things that are new to us are generally not things that families who are new to this special needs life really are going to know about.

It's not likely that we'll ever be a completely typical family - some of the kids' needs are going to continue indefinitely. But I'm thinking it's time to take a break from many of the groups I've been a part of for the last few years. Maybe I'll go back sometime.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I know a lot of people are posting something they're thankful for every day this month. I don't need to list a new thing every day, because every day I'm reminded of how lucky we are, and how thankful we should be, by two smiling faces (yes, even when they're sick, we can usually get a few smiles).

I'm thankful that my children are alive. Many go through less and are not so lucky. Many do not get to see their children grow up.

I'm thankful my children can walk. Many never do, or lose the ability to.

I'm thankful my children can eat. Even when I'm annoyed by the what and how....there are children who never develop the necessary skills to do so, and children for whom most or all foods are unsafe.

I'm thankful my children can make sounds. I'm not always thankful for the volume or pitch of those sounds, but we went so long without hearing either one's voice that I will never wish they should just shut up. Many parents I know tell me that some day I'll wish they stop talking, but I can't imagine that ever being possible. There are parents who will never hear their children's voices, and parents whose children have passed who will never hear their voices again.

I'm thankful that my children communicate at all. It has been a struggle, and we're all often frustrated, but there are others for whom communication is not so easy.

I'm thankful my children can breathe. Sometimes that's a little sketchy, but for something we all do continually, I've seen what happens when they don't breathe, and it makes me all the more aware of how lucky we are.

I'm thankful for diapers - though I'll be more thankful for potty training - their bodies work they way they should on this front, and that makes life much less complicated. Not everyone has that benefit.

I'm thankful for my children's health. I know they're not as healthy as some, and there will likely always be issues on that front, but things could be so much worse.

I'm thankful for a job that provides insurance that provides for their needs, even when I don't really feel like it meets my needs.

I'm thankful for a spouse who is involved in my children's care. I'm thankful for friends and family who accept my children as they are.

I'm thankful for loving and competent care givers - nurses, teachers, aides, and more - who make working and sleeping a little more possible.

But mostly, I'm thankful for smiles and hugs and tickle fights and bicycle rides. I'm thankful for morning snuggles and bedtime snuggles and singing and laughing.