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Veteran With PTSD Releases Special Book For Daughter, ‘Why is Dad So Mad?’

Sherry Rucherman

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Seth Kastle is an Army veteran who served for sixteen years in the military, spending much of his time overseas. Upon returning home, Kastle was a very different person. Despite having a job, a loving family, and all of the friends that he could ask for, things were still very different. For many soldiers, their return home is often the most jarring moment of their entire lives. What many soldiers end up dealing with, and suffering from, is something known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that tends to develop in response to stressful events or traumatizing experiences, such as those faced by most soldiers who go to war. Kastle is just like many other soldiers who return home with a new case of PTSD because he didn’t really even know what it was. Kastle said of his experience with the disorder, “I waited until it was too late. I didn’t even know what PTSD was.” 

For Kastle and his family, the fallout from PTSD can be downright devastating. Kastle was a different person, and his PTSD would cause him to push away those that he cared about. What’s worse, Kastle also suffered from angry outbursts which were exacerbated by the depression that sent him to drinking. Kastle says, “There have been a thousand times looking back where my wife should have left me.” Despite his struggles, Kastle’s family stayed close to help him work through his new and devastating disorder.

Kastle struggled to join any meaningful VA therapy groups because time slots were either always full or scheduled in such a way that he’d never have been able to attend. At the end of the day, things were looking very bleak. Eventually, and thankfully, Kastle was able to find a therapeutic resource that worked for him. Most PTSD resources help you to understand the topic on a medical level, but that medical level isn’t easy to translate to your young daughter, as was the problem with Kastle. To bridge the gap between the man he was and the man he became, Kastle needed a way to talk to his daughter about his problem.

To reach his young daughter, Kastle ended up writing down an experience that he had with PTSD. He filed the document away on his computer intending to leave it to rot. That is, until, a close friend of Kastle’s published their own book. Kastle was inspired to follow suit, but Kastle was going to take his story in a different direction.

When Kastle decided to write his own book, he knew exactly where to go. He pulled the story off of his computer and instantly began to translate it into a story that his daughter would understand. Kastle says, “There’s a section in the book where I describe the anger and things associated with PTSD as a fire inside my chest.”  When Kastle read this segment to his young daughter she replied, “I’m sorry you have a fire in your chest now, dad.” At the time, she was just four-years-old.

Kastle ended up publishing the children’s book under the title, ‘Why is Dad So Mad?’ The story featured a number of illustrations that featured animals in place of humans. With amazing artwork and palatable language, the book served as an instant bridge between father and daughter. Kastle says that his goal with the book is to erode the stigma that has developed around PTSD, to erase ‘warrior culture’ and to remove the concept of masculinity from dealing with the disorder.

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Parenting

Chaperoning a Kindergarten Class: Not as Easy as It Looks

Sherry Rucherman

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When you see a group of kids out with their teachers, you might be worried that their group will get in front of you in line. But you probably don’t think much else about the large, organized group sharing your space in the museum, restaurant, or wherever.

The children are usually in pairs, holding hands, and walk single file down rows and sidewalks. The whole thing seems so organized that anyone who has never actually been on one of these field trips as an adult doesn’t realize how much work goes into making those trips manageable.

Daddy Blogger 

Clint Edwards is the owner of a blog called “No idea what I’m doing: a daddy blog.” Like most first time parents, he quickly came to the realization that parenting was not what he expected.  Children are their own little people, and any expectations he started with were quickly crushed. 

In his blog, Clint talks about the adventures he gets to have as a parent.  He blogs about how he came to spend so much time with his children, and how different his life was before them. He talks about challenges, like supporting his daughter with ADHD. In one recent blog, he recounts how a coworker told him how tough he makes parenting look. But Clint knows he has great kids, and nothing can make up for the magic of being a parent.

Volunteering Looked Easy

Most schools welcome parent volunteers during field trips, and some would have difficulty without the extra help. Having parents means being able to split into smaller groups, so each adult only has to keep eyes on a smaller number of kids at once.

Clint volunteered to chaperone his daughter’s kindergarten class when they got to make a trip to a pumpkin patch. He was responsible for keeping track of just five small kids, which sounds perfectly doable. 

Other People’s Kids Are Harder 

While he is glad he volunteered, and happy he got to spend extra time with his daughter, Clint was shocked at how much more difficult it was than he thought. 

He was only with the group for four hours, but spent the time worrying he’d lose one of the children and something horrible would happen. There were other problems, like mud and strange smells, and he worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep the children clean, safe, and behaving. 

Teachers As Heroes

Even while he worried, the teachers were in charge, making it look easy.  They got the children to change shoes at the beginning and end of the trip, and they kept everyone focused on the trip. Not only did they do a great job keeping order, they did it all with patience and big smiles on their faces.

Clint says he hasn’t had a drink for 16 years, but he really wanted to after the field trip. Instead, he had a handful of Tylenol, a long, hot soak in the bathtub, and more cookies than he really needed. 

Gratitude 

Clint quickly realized that he had no problem spending the day with his own children, but being responsible for other people’s children is much harder. He realizes teaching is not the job for him, but he has so much respect for the teachers who dedicate their lives to their students. 

Clint wants to send a message to teachers about what a great job they’re doing, and to parents that they should thank their children’s teachers and give them a pat on the back. 

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Parenting

Getting a Toddler to Sleep – Mission Impossible

Leslie Tander

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Women are often told as they are about to have a child, “enjoy your sleep, it’s about to end.” Disregard the fact that most women in their third trimester already can’t sleep well due to discomfort and movement inside on a regular basis. And, no surprise, once the newborn happens, sleep does disappear, as if on command. Instead, the ritual of feeding just about every hour makes a zombie out of almost the hardiest of women with a newborn.

Add in the mix of doing something wrong, of SIDS occurring while the child does sleep, and trying to learn everything in what seems like nature’s crash course sprinkled with tons of relatives offering annoying advice that doesn’t apply, and sleep seems to literally disappear for a year or two altogether. So once the toddler years come along, and a 2-year-old doesn’t want to now go to sleep on schedule, vocalizing it quite loudly at times, finding a sure-fire method for one’s own sanity and the resting health of the child becomes a must.

Interestingly, moms who allow their newborns and babies to fall asleep on them figure out very quickly that it’s one of the few things that actually works amazingly well in knocking out a little one. And this, of course, sets up the issue of how long should this pattern continue, even when it works really well with toddler as well. It’s not a shocking surprise, a mother’s heartbeat is a very fundamental, natural calming sound for a baby child. Almost instinctually, the child knows protection and sleep from pregnancy days, like an ingrained memory. But it also sets up a mother as a regular sleep aid too, which creates complications.

First, kids grow. And that means they get heavy. Just holding them all the time becomes physically impossible. Try holding a bucket of water with your arm power. It’s the same idea, eventually even the strongest person realizes they won’t last long. So, the approach morphs into rocking, crouching and eventually comes the issue of the toddler falling asleep with mom in the parent’s bed.

Culturally, Americans frown on the idea of a toddler falling asleep in the parents’ room. The child needs to learn to sleep on his or her own, so we believe. Yet in many other cultures children are allowed to fall asleep with their parents, and its as normal as eating or drinking. So, did we somehow get it wrong in the U.S. and we’re missing out on the magical sleep we all want at night and can’t get as new parents? Well, maybe so.

The fact is, many parents trying the sleeping together approach are going to find they and the child are getting better sleep. And once the child is comatose, it’s fairly easy to carry the sleeping ruggle to his or her bed and get back in one’s own without worry. So, exactly where is the problem? It may very well be our own cultural stigmas hang up our ability to get decent sleep with a newborn more than necessary. And if that’s really the case, parents should really focus on doing what works best for them and their child. The heck with what Grandma thinks.

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Parenting

College is a Family Affair for this Mother-Daughter Duo

Mackenzie Freeman

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Imagine walking into the first day of classes as a freshman in college. You sit down in the front row and watch other students start to file in. Next thing you know, your mom enters the room, sporting a new backpack and a freshly sharpened pencil. No, you didn’t leave your lunch at home or forget your gloves. Mom is also taking this class.

This is exactly what happened to 16-year-old Emma and her stay-at-home mom, 37-year-old Kathy.

When Emma tested out of high school after only 3 days of attendance by taking the Texas Success Initiative test, she decided to enroll in the University of North Texas. Kathy, a mother of three, was so inspired by the achievements and success of her oldest daughter, that she decided that she was going to enroll as well.

When Kathy started having kids she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. That meant that any idea of going to college went out the window. But her daughter’s academic success, testing out of high school and getting both her high school diploma and associates degree at the age of 15, inspired Kathy. She decided to take a chance and give college a try. Something she thought she’d never get again.

“The first day of class, the professor, of course, says, ‘You guys have the same last name. Are you sisters?’… I’m like, ‘I’m her mother,’ and Emma at first was so embarrassed,” Kathy said. 

While some may think that Kathy was there to help Emma, the opposite is actually true.

“A lot of times she was helping me!” Kathy exclaimed.

Emma, who thinks of her mom as her best friend, now thinks it’s great that she gets to share her college experience with her mom. They go to football games and hang out with their other classmates and friends together. At first, she was embarrassed to have her mom around all the time, but then realized what an opportunity it was for them both.

“Going to college together just makes our friendship so much stronger,” Emma noted. “No matter what, she’s going to be there to support me and she’ll love me no matter what.” 

While Emma may not have realized that “being there” meant literally in the next seat while sitting in English 101, she is grateful to share the college experiences with her mom.

After 20 years out of school, Kathy is working hard and is grateful she has her daughter as a classmate and for helping her so much. “I think initially professors think somehow I’m going to help her, when the truth is, a lot of times she was helping me.”

While many folks may have been horrified at the idea of sharing their college experience with their moms, Emma and Kathy are a positive example of how it can work. The mother-daughter duo plans on attending medical school together after finishing up their coursework for their bachelor’s degrees. 

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