A little advice on children: Ignore everyone else's warnings

NEIGHBORS

September 15, 1999|By Donna Koros Stramella | Donna Koros Stramella,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MY OLDEST daughter turned 13 yesterday. That particular birthday seems to be quite significant and has spawned another set of dire predictions from well-meaning friends and relatives. "Now the problems really begin," they warn. Or, "Little kids, little problems; bigger kids, bigger problems."

Why do parents like to share the gloom? From the time I found out I was pregnant, I've heard, "Your feet will swell," "The heartburn will keep you up all night" and "Wait till the baby starts pressing against your bladder." The closer I was to labor, the louder the unsolicited comments became. Women competed for the most agonizing story with details of weeklong labors and deliveries in cars and buses.

When my daughter was born, the comments started even before I left the hospital. "Kiss your sleeping days goodbye."

As time passed, they warned, "Once they begin to walk, you'll be even more exhausted," "Watch out for the terrible twos," "They'll catch every illness known to man after they start school" and "Once they're in middle school, they won't want to do anything with the family."

For all you new mothers, I'd like to offer some hope. In fact, I can refute 90 percent of all predictions I've ever received. My pregnancy was easy and uneventful. My first daughter slept through the night from the beginning. She was a terrific 2-year-old. She did catch chickenpox in kindergarten, but now there's a vaccine. Her middle school years have been a wonderful experience.

But did I mention labor? My daughter weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces, and I endured 28 hours of labor without anesthesia before I had an emergency Caesarean section. Gee, maybe misery really does love company.

A benefit for Jacob

Imagine finding the best treatment for your autistic child. Now imagine that you can't afford to pay for it.

Four-year-old Jacob Wenger Smith, son of Steve and Doris Smith, has been diagnosed with autism. After visits to specialists and a variety of tests, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was recommended. A 1987 study demonstrated that for children who began the program before age 5, almost half were functioning normally after two years.

ABA is a 40-hour-a-week, home-based, one-on-one therapy. In the four months since Jacob started the program, his grandmother, Doris Wenger, has seen results.

"I've already seen a lot of improvements," she said. "His behavior is much better."

But while the benefits are apparent, the cost is high. The program can run $20,000 to $25,000 annually.

The family's church, St. Alban's Episcopal, at First Avenue and A Street, is planning a lasagna dinner Sept. 25 to help defray the treatment expenses. Diners will be seated at 4: 30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children 4 and younger.

Advance tickets are suggested because seating is limited. The dinner is the first in a series of fund-raisers planned for Jacob. A silent auction will take place at Michael's Eighth Avenue on Jan. 13. Individual donations, although not tax-deductible, can be made to the Friends of Jacob Wenger Smith, C/O the Bank of Glen Burnie, P.O. Box 70, Glen Burnie, 21061, Attention: Nicki. Information: 410-315-8324, 410-761-8340 or 410-766-7723.

Library anniversary

North County Area Library is celebrating 30 years of service from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Celebrants will blast to the past to the library's 1969 opening. Games include "Twister" and a staged sit-in.

Children can make love beads and have their faces painted. The day also includes birthday cake, music, a story and a tae kwon do exhibition, besides a display of branch memorabilia and photos that date to the grand opening.

The North County Area Library also serves as the system's Health Information Center and the headquarters for Library By Mail service to county residents who are homebound.

Information: 410-222-6270.

Halloween roast

Join the other ghosts and goblins at the Halloween Bull and Oyster Roast sponsored by the Glen Burnie High School Athletic Boosters. The event is Oct. 30 at the Stoney Creek Democratic Club, Fort Smallwood Road, from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Music is provided by Skyline. Costumes are optional, but encouraged, and prizes will be awarded.

Information: 410-766-4536.

Walkers honored

North Arundel Hospital, Marley Station Mall and the Vie de France Cafe recently honored three local walkers who have participated in the Marley Milers Walking Program since 1988.

Glen Burnie resident Jerry Gaven has walked 9,056 miles during the past 11 years, helping him lower his blood pressure and manage his diabetes. Muriel Jenkins, also of Glen Burnie, has always made exercise a part of her life. She has walked 9,020 miles as a Marley Miler. Pasadena resident Jo Ann Spiesbegan walks to lessen her risk of acquiring a vascular disease that runs in her family. She has completed 8,650 miles.

Information: 410-787-4367.

Pub Date: 9/15/99

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