W-sitting: problem or solution?

Don’t lose your mind about the way your kid sits…

Kendra Ped PT

When a child w-sits he spreads his hips with his bottom on the floor, his knees bent, and his feet behind him, making a "W" shape with his legs.  When a child w-sits he spreads his hips with his bottom on the floor, his knees bent, and his feet behind him, making a “W” shape with his legs.

I’m going to come right out and say it.

I’m a pediatric physical therapist, and I think W-sitting is OK.

Like most physical therapists, I learned in school that W-sitting is bad.  Very bad.  The worst.  When I talk to other physical therapists, even those who don’t treat children, they remember the same thing.  In a recent conversation, one colleague recalled the time she came home from PT school in a panic because her then-5-year-old sister was a W-sitter.  It is a single, pervasive, clear message taught to physical therapy students everywhere.  W-sitting must always be corrected.  But why?

The reasons given usually fall into 3 categories:

  1. W-sitting will cause orthopedic issues such as twisted bones and hip dislocation.
  2. W-sitting will…

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Those Polygamists Are Onto Something.

This chick is bang on! Maybe I could write the follow up in regards to parenting teens- OMG!!!!

Modern Mommy Madness

Okay … here it comes. A rant. Somewhere, right this minute, Husband is reading this and breathing a sigh of relief that it isn’t directed at him.

I am in over my head with my current life situation. This is a fact. And the way I talk about it probably makes it seem worse than it is. Maybe. No. Probably not.

But when it comes down to it, I am living the life I’ve always wanted. I have three kids, I’m home with them, and when I wished for this life before it happened, I had no idea how hard it would be. Had I known what it would actually be like, I wouldn’t have had the guts to give it a shot. People talk about exhaustion and self-sacrifice and grace and hard decisions … they tell you about those things in parenting books and articles, in blogs…

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Vegetarian- To Be or Not to Be?

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At forty I still frequently let the philosophy and practical aspects of vegetarianism flit through my mind like a shooting starfruit.  My  fleeting moments of thought about living a vegetarian lifestyle are numerous, and noncommittal. I’ve always been able to articulate an argument against it despite knowing that I could happily change my diet. There’s counter arguments for many of the reasons that vehement vegetarians espouse for their meat anti-fetish;  the health pro’s and con’s, ethics, religion, philosophy and environmental issues.  I’ve admired and condemned (lightly) choices made by friends, family and acquaintances  to decline meat (and for some, even all animal products) from their lives and felt slightly righteous when at times that choice changed to include meat again.  There’s a niggling sense that I have yet to peruse the menu of choices and place my order- vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, (there’s more that I have omitted) or should I just carry on with the default choice of our culture- meat eating (meatatarian?)

Now could be a good time to confess that I did at one stage start a degree studying nutrition and forged halfway through before deciding not to continue my studies(there were many reasons, but at least one was that I knew one look at me would diminish the robustness of any advice I could give as a nutritionist).  Every time a new lecturer entered they would say some version of the same thing about the human diet- “you know you’ve got to eat meat right”?  Cue me smugly nodding in agreement.  They’ve got a point since the ability to consume the required nutrients for a healthy life can be more easily achieved if one eats meat.  I know the hairs will be rising on many vegetarian necks right now, but I think it would be hard to argue that iron and B12 levels in particular are difficult to maintain and may take quite an effort and a voracious appetite for a vegetarian to achieve.  That said, the unhealthy meat eaters may be harming their health just as much by excluding essential dietary fibre, and nutrients provided by a healthy variety of fruit and vegetable consumption(malnutrition is now quite common in the first world).  The plethora of dietary advice out there can be bewildering and the prophets of diet can make vast claims so I choose to take any advice with a educated and skeptical gaze.

One of my daughters doesn’t like meat.  She hates fish especially.  She’s dabbled with vegetarianism for a few years now, but since she’s only fifteen I am sometimes supportive… and sometimes taking her through the drive thru at McDonald’s because I know she’ll eat the low scale attractively wrapped, alluring meat there. This kind of vegetarian is just more taste based it seems.  Something about the look, feel and taste of the butchered flesh of another animal just doesn’t appeal.  No courage of conviction is needed for this kind of vegetarian- well no more than it takes for someone who hates brussel sprouts to avoid eating them.  And there’s certainly no argument to be made here against the reasons for being a vegetarian.

Animal lovers seem to come in a variety of breeds and for some the choice to become vegetarian is about respect for their fellow animals.  For me this is one of the things I consider a lot.  I do love animals and when I see them poorly treated or slaughtered I feel empathy and a bit of guilt.  If I became a vegetarian would it stop them suffering?  Would it ease my guilt to not partake of the meat, or would I then have to face up to the guilt of not trying to save the animals from being killed?  As a bystander to the concentration camp style of farming animals aren’t I just passively giving my permission and acceptance? I’m certainly not the type who would take a human life in order to save an animal.  I’ve countered this argument many times with this – ‘how many lions have you seen turning down the hunt for food because it felt bad about consuming a fellow animal’? The circle of life argument is a good one and sure, the lion is a carnivore so it has got no choice, but hasn’t our omnivorous abilities offered us a survival advantage?

Choosing vegetarianism for health reasons is driven by the fear of things like cancer and heart disease.  For the health choice vegetarian I guess eating meat is a bit like smoking, and some of these types of vegetarian can get pretty crazy about their choice- a bit like a born again christian or a recent comer to ‘The Secret‘.  I’m not sure I could stick to that style of eating any more than I could stick to any diet for health reasons but good on those that do.

Environmental reasons seem to be high on the list of good reasons to change to a more vegetable based diet. This is one of the more compelling arguments for me.  I can’t stand the sight of caged animals being bred on mass and as fast as possible for the jaws of a bloated world.  Have we become used to the taste of suffering permeating our meat?  The endless slaughter of cattle and sheep at the expense of our environment, concentration camp style, block it out meat eaters and tuck in to your unhappy meal with an extra serve of environmental disaster on the side.

Religious and cultural beliefs serve as reasons for living a vegetarian lifestyle and one would think that this would be one of the easier reasons to follow a non meat diet. This doesn’t make things easier for me or really figure into my thoughts about it because they don’t apply to me.  A couple of thoughts to chew over in regards to this though are- isn’t it part of my culture to eat meat?  But then, there are plenty of really bad things about cultures that we seek to change, so why not this one?  What if a religious vegetarian is starving to death and the only food available is meat?  Would they eat it?

Vegans have got the high horse to peer down from in regards to their choices.  No animal products at all!  I have to admit that seeing Cows complete with bright pink, full to bursting udders wandering dutifully to a milking shed sends shivers through my mammary glands.  Any breastfeeding mother will know the relief of a thirsty baby suckling at an engorged breast.  These cows have been impregnated in order to stimulate their milk production and the moment their calves are born they are taken away from their mother and the bobby calves (males) destroyed.  I gather the baby girls calves fates are to follow in their mothers dreadful hoof steps – to be milked for the rest of their useful lives.  We’ve been so brainwashed by the money making dairy industry that we’ve actually swallowed the idea that we need cow’s milk- hook, line and sinker.  I believe there’s one use for cows milk- to feed baby calves.  We’re essentially stealing calves milk like giant, evil, baby slugs.

Meat eaters that are selective about what meat they eat really scramble my thoughts.  Why, for instance, is it okay to eat pig, sheep, cow and other ‘acceptable’ meats but not cats, dogs, rabbits or even rats?  If you think it’s okay to eat animals then why discriminate?  I figured being a pescatarian would work but last time my hubby caught a fish and I watched it gasping and flapping with a hook in its mouth -I felt sad.  I thought about it’s friends and family and whether they were all going through hell down there waiting to see if their mate would make it back alive.  There’s a term for that sort of empathy for animals- anthropomorphism.  So in a nutshell that means attributing human feelings or characteristics to animals or other non human things. Of course it’s natural to do this as it’s the only thing we have to use to describe behaviour but that doesn’t mean we’re right about it at all!  So the vegetarians and vegans have clearly aligned themselves with this way of thinking and I have to say- when I grab my car keys and Mr Pug starts walking on his back legs and doing everything in his power to make me take him on the car ride I feel fairly convinced that he has thoughts and feelings.  For the meat-eaters, swallow that lump in your throat down- it’s just the soul of a cow getting trapped in your gullet.

What has become clear in digesting my ideas is that I am more strongly compelled by the animal welfare and environmental issues associated with eating meat.  I’m not afraid to change my diet to exclude meat, and I think it would be really easy if I actually just didn’t like meat(sadly this is not the case).  Is it just laziness holding me back, or the inconvenience?  I know I’d be fairly well catered for these days, and choosing from a menu should be easy- there’s usually one vegetarian item… Vegan?  No way!

I feel like I’d be happy enough if the large meat eating cultures would treat meat as more of a garnish to their food instead of the main event.  If we could reduce the cruelty and mass slaughter and consume meat as a treat item.  In fact even a ritualistic slaughter where we all smear the blood over our bodies first in some sort of honour to the cannibalized fellow animal might stem the flow of mindless munching.

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Let’s Flag it!

It’s becoming the debate that no one wants to talk about in polite circles anymore- The Flag.  Indications are that opinions are not as divided as they may seem. There’s reasons and stuff. The  arguments about the flag have meant that many can no longer see the wood for the trees.  There’s those that say that that’s exactly what John Key wants: all the hobbits arguing in the magic forest about a flag while he gets his secret TPPA deals signed, sealed and delivered…

So far the plethora of mostly nonacademic (therefore statistically not robust) polls have indicated that the majority are against the change.  Since the decision to change the flag is going to be decided by a series of referendums (which cost millions of dollars to carry out but are the democratic way to make decisions) one would think that the first question to ask would be ‘Do you want NZ to have a new flag design’? This seems like common sense really and would save tens of millions of dollars if the answer was no and any forward motion on the idea could be halted. But John Key obviously wants the flag change to go ahead and for that reason he is not asking that question first.

First he’s going to send a bunch of people around New Zealand to run workshops for flag designs and then the first referendum question will be : ‘If the New Zealand flag changes, which flag would you prefer’?  John’s no fool (snigger) and he’s figured out that he’s going to spend a lot of (our) money getting that first question and all the designs done and then before the ‘should we change the flag?’ question he’s going to point out what a huge waste of time and money it will be if we turn down the option to change.  It’s a very passive aggressive move, and a way to make it look like it will be our fault for wasting all the money- not his.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he set a bunch of money on fire and chucked it in the bin to make his point.

So the majority of New Zealanders seem to not want to change the flag.  Let’s not get too lost in the reasons but some of them are: those that have fought under our flag, the cost, the symbolism, attachment to national identity etc.  All the arguments have their merits, as do the arguments for change, but it’s not a debate that’s going to answer the question to change or not, it’s a referendum (one that John’s swinging in his favour by going about the questions in the most ridiculous way).  It’s our money and our flag, we are the people and we should get to say yes or no before millions of dollars are wasted choosing and creating a design.  If John wanted a fair referendum he would respond to the requests by the Labour Party, NZ First, Green Party and Māori Party to order the questions differently, but he doesn’t want fairness- he’s in for the win. There’ll be a flag change – That’s what John wants.

It’s so kind of John to allow us to have a say about the flag right?  He’s flying the flag of fairness and democratic leadership for New Zealand.  So why don’t we get to have our say about something as important as feeding kids in schools, or the TPPA?  Am I flagging in the morality zone of my brain or what?  It seems to me that these two issues (which we are having no say in, and in the case of the TPPA no access to information about) are way more important for New Zealanders to participate in. The TPPA poses a serious threat to New Zealanders but John our father figure will take care of all that serious stuff, so don’t worry, grab a crayon and draw your own flag design.

In this climate of beneficiary bashing and terrible child poverty it seems that John has got his priorities all wrong.  The ‘feed kids in schools‘ bill which aims to provide food to children that suffer from poverty was knocked back by John- he thinks its a bit unnecessary and too expensive. He decided to flag it.  This is such hypocritical behaviour given what we hear said about beneficiaries- ‘they’re spending all their money on alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes’ , ‘they’re costing the taxpayer millions’ etc. Now if I were on the benefit and saw a great letterbox that cost thousands of dollars but it meant I couldn’t feed my kids, would my argument stack up- ‘but it truly represents our home and our family well’, ‘yes the children won’t have food but we can deal with that later’, ‘ the new letterbox will unite us all, bring more people to our home, and make us more recognizable’, ‘let me show you the letterbox before you decide, I’m just paying thousands of dollars to get it designed, then you can decide’.  One should expect that that kind of behaviour would be seen as reckless, selfish and unnecessary.  Why don’t we find a way to unite New Zealanders into solving our problems with poverty first, then deal with the flag.

I am in favour of a Flag change under certain conditions.  They are: where it represents a significant change to New Zealand’s standing in the world(if we became a republic), when our people are not suffering from poverty, when a simple and united flag design will be meaningful to all New Zealanders and represent us accurately to the world, when the majority of New Zealanders agree to a change.

I’ve got some ideas about what the flag should look like too.  The simplest are the most memorable, like Japans, or Canada’s.  They cleverly avoided any issue around peoples representation on their flags.  Canada- We make maple syrup- Maple leaf!  Boom.  Japan- The Sun!  Boom!  Personally I like the Silver Fern and I think that if a quiz was run around the world more people would recognise that as from New Zealand than our current flag. It would be good since we are spending so much money on this flag issue if we could perhaps include a vexillographer – a person who designs flags(there is no such person on the hand selected flag committee).  A good representation of our country right now for the flag design could be of John Key’s toilet paper. New Zealand currency with his shit on it to represent how he’s wiping his arse with us and our money.  Maybe a picture of John just shitting on the poor would be a fair design?  I can already see the holiday snaps of John with his pasty body lying on his new New Zealand towel.  Make sure you have your say New Zealand, don’t let your morals flag.