My daughter is nearing the end of her first year on the High School cross country team. She has PRed (Personal Record) a few times and continues to show improvement nearly every week. Even though she has had to get up terribly early almost every day since school started, she is still committed to doing her best. “Best” includes doing a 4 mile run on her day off of school when no practice was scheduled. (Columbus Day)
During track season in the spring, the coach noticed she had a breathing issue. We went to the pediatrician and got an inhaler for her to use before she runs. (Their was cross fit training or running nearly every weekday this summer.) When cross country started, she was given the advice to use the inhaler twice within a couple of minutes. This was to be done 30 minutes before the beginning of her race. As the season wore on, this seemed to address most of the breathing issues she was having. Unfortunately, during a couple of windy days, the coach became convinced that her breathing problems were more allergy related than asthma. We thought getting her tested could wait until after the season.
As I went to pick my daughter up on Thursday afternoon after she completed a 3 mile run, the coach had some additional advice for me. “The State meets are in just over two weeks. If the weather is really windy, I don’t know if the inhaler will be enough. She should start taking a Claratin every day until after the state meet.” This brings us to today. It took us a couple of days to get the Claratin picked up. And, it was not chewable, so we would have to do a swallowing tutorial….
Right after dinner the past couple of nights, we have played a “game”. We had purchased a big bag of bulk, mini, peanut butter cups at Sprouts. Last night and again tonight, I threw a number of pb cups into the air near my kids heads where many were caught in the mouth and quickly swallowed. Most of them arched pretty well, and many (not all) of the pb cups were caught. Cheeks, noses, and tongues got in the way of some of the catches. (There is an art to throwing well arced food items [M&Ms, peanuts, popcorn, etc], but it will have to wait for a later time.) Sometimes the pb cup nearly went straight down the throat without chewing or anything. I mentioned to my daughter, “Maybe, you can try to catch the Claratin in your mouth so you won’t have to think about swallowing.” (My wife has always been a little softer when it came to the art of swallowing. My near adult son still has trouble swallowing, so she will give him liquids whenever she can. I come from the other school that says, “Grow up! It needs swallowed, so swallow it!”) Of course, dads are more likely to be soft on their daughters (I did check when buying the Claratin. There did not appear to be a chewable variety….) Since the “catching” of pb cups by my daughter was a little sketchy at times AND because she needed to learn to swallow anyway, we filled a glass of water, and I tried to go to work!
I have been a member of the “Good Swallower” club for a number of years. I take a few vitamins daily. They are stored in plastic container with the days of the week on it. The days of the week don’t matter to me–it is the same mix every day. (Yes, these are identical to what is used by our senior citizens.) Usually, I dump the contents of the “Monday” (or whichever) compartment in my mouth; I carefully arrange them on my tongue; I drink the water slowly; I let the pills float up into the water (maybe swishing the water in my mouth a little) and try to get them to all be approximately in the center of my mouth, and then I swallow. Usually they (Okay, their are 8 total–I am getting old) are gone in one swallowing, and at most two. This is the technique (if technique can be accurately applied to the sketchy details provided) I tried to convey to my daughter. She decided to practice on something small. She suggested peanuts. I suggested something a little smaller. Since the Claratin is really only about the size of a baby aspirin, I was very hopeful the “lesson” would be a short one. After swallowing a small piece of granola a couple of times, she was ready to take her pill. I watched her center the pill on her tongue, and practically before the water was in her mouth, the pill was swallowed. She enjoyed it so much she cleared out the box and took all 30 of the Claratin in one evening. (not really, but she did enjoy the accomplishment)
I think she realized what swallowing the pill would mean. Another part of her childhood was slipping away. No longer could she eagerly look forward to another morning of chomping on the Flintstones (or other chewable) vitamin. (Chewable in my youth was a chalky like thing–it wasn’t a gummy bear!) She had to accept the bottle of vitamins in the cupboard was the end of an era in her life. No more “candy” with the vitamin chaser. She was going to have to take her vitamins the (almost) old fashion way–by water. (The real old fashion way was just eating well–she does that pretty well, too.)
I know some kids achieve this “milestone” earlier in life. I know my kids are not perfect, and are not “100th” percentile on everything. I know we probably could have found a solution that involved the preservation of her “no swallow” policy. And, I also know she didn’t do something she didn’t really want to do because it was the only option presented to her. I am pretty sure it is okay to “secretly” celebrate a milestone if it means your child is daily winning the war against their negative thoughts and the “I can’ts”. I know she is going to be a great adult–I am just hoping she doesn’t figure it out before I am willing to tell her!