ParentPerspectives Finding Ways to Get Healthy SPECIAL FOCUS:
Modeling a Positive Attitude I remember crying to my mom about how unfair it was that I was being pulled from my current school, away from all my friends, to attend a special needs school across town. Of course I got a healthy dose of her positive thinking wisdom with one of her favorite sayings, “Honey, always remember, success is an inside job and the true winners of the world learn to play with the hand they’ve been dealt.” Of course this made no sense to me for I had no idea what poker was at that age, but I figured it must be important for she was always saying it. It often made me wonder, what could this woman, who was riddled with chronic illness, possibly know about raising healthy kids? She Knew Everything. She knew that a positive attitude and a winning mindset were the greatest gifts she could pass on to her offspring. Mom battled terminal cancer in the late 60’s with brutal radiation treatments and experimental drugs that drove her to the brink of exhaustion, all while raising four children as a single mom during an economic environment similar to today. When she feared death was looming, she opened an art studio in St. Matthews against sound business advice, and she attacked the venture like Jeannie C. Riley in Harper Valley PTA, ignoring the stiff suits who tried to put her down. After winning Best of Show at St. James, Cherokee Triangle, and many other prominent art fairs, she died a millionaire with a decade-long waiting list to take lessons from her. I can still hear her as if I were on her lap, “Remember, most points in a football game are scored in the fourth quarter. Make every second count!” That is the kind of healthy mind-set I am constantly trying to instill in my children. I don’t know if they’re hearing me, but I am bombarding them with positive thinking all the same. I’m not sure when I actually heard my mom, but I know it was always there on some level. After all, this piece was written by a guy with dyslexia who couldn’t read until he was 12. — John G. Warren
Veggie Week! Several years ago my husband and I tried a vegetarian experiment with disastrous results. Always up for a challenge, we thought that by eating only vegetarian meals for a week, we might discover some meatless recipes to add to our regular meal rotation and to help lower our high cholesterol. The first meal of the week, Kidney Bean, Barley, and Sweet Potato Stew, was tasty, and the next meal, Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas, was even more delicious. We were off to a terrific meatless start, and on Day 3, we would eat the most-anticipated meal of the week: Eggplant Parmigiana, complete with a layer of tofu. (Tofu! No one could say we were amateur vegetarians now.) After spending hours cooking my eggplant masterpiece, we eagerly dug in to the most disgusting thing we’d ever tasted. The tofu layer tasted nothing like cheese, the
eggplant was a squishy, juicy mess, and our gag reflexes were working overtime. The next day, my husband, pushed over the edge by the leftover tofu for lunch, revolted against Vegetarian Week and took us to Olive Garden for a big bowl of Italian sausage. Since that dreadful week, I’ve grown in my culinary skills, expanding my repertoire of healthy and meatless meals to include a variety of Indian curries and a spicy West African beans and rice. Admittedly, my kids don’t always love the vegetarian meals that we eat at least once a week. They say things like, “I don’t LIKE beans!” or “What IS that stuff?” or “Do I HAVE to eat the quinoa?” I like to think that one day, though, when their lives are full of steak and pizza, and they’re trying to lower their cholesterol, they will look back and appreciate my efforts at fixing healthy food. Yes, kids, you do have to eat the quinoa. After all, Dad and I had to eat the tofu. — SANDI HAUSTEIN
Have You Checked His Eyes? I didn’t know he couldn’t see. I knew that my youngest child always sat close to the television and constantly held the remote control. I thought it was just a power thing between him and his older brother. When I took him to the optometrist — after being referred by his kindergarten — he said my child could not see very well. I felt guilty. He had never complained about his vision; he had always seen the world through those eyes and he did not know what he was missing. I had always taken my children to the doctor for well-baby check-ups, shots, and illness visits in a timely manner. With five children, that was not always easily done, but I got it done. Maintaining a healthy body was important because an illness had the potential to spread throughout the group and to sideline all family activities for a while. As a mom, I learned that day that I did not have all of the immediate answers for my child’s every need, and that there would be times when I would have to depend on more learned professionals in certain areas in order to make beneficial decisions for him. The doctor advised that I buy two pair of glasses for him. He predicted that my son would destroy the first pair and would need a spare pair as he made the adjustment to wearing glasses. He was right; the first pair was destroyed the first week. I was grateful for having followed his advice.
— VEDA PENDLETON MCCLAIN, pH.D., author of The Intentional Parenting Plan October/November 2012
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