Tonight I offer you a few Harper stories and a request...
For a long time Harper didn't watch any commercial television because all we had was PBS and videos. We'd expanded our cable package and she now watches Disney and Nickelodeon channels as well. While I appreciate some of the preschool programming on Nick, I do not like the fact that there are regular commercials during and between the preschool programs. I am amazed at what kids pick up from commercials (any television for that matter). Tonight I was flipping through a magazine and there was picture of that little green guy who is supposed to be mucus, Harper looked over and said, "Hey! That's for Mucinex DM!" Somewhere an advertising executive can get a high-five for the success of his (or her!) campaign.
We have a bag of hand-me-down books on tape from a teacher friend. We don't have the books, only the tapes. Once in a while Harper will bust out the Fisher Price tape player and listen to them. The story of King Midas and the Golden Touch is on one of these tapes. Tonight after dinner Harper turned to me and asked, "Mom, have you ever gotten the golden touch, where everything you touched turns to gold?!"
"No," I replied, chuckling a bit.
"Me neither," Harper said dejectedly, "Everything I touch just turns to normal."
One of the bedtime stories Harper chose tonight was less a story than a series of little poems stating types of things the author liked. For example: I like apples. Red apples, green apples, yellow apples, juicy apples, etc.
As we read I would pause at the end of each page and ask Harper to identify the word that was repeated a half dozen or more times on the page, i.e. "apples" from the example above. They've been working on letter sounds in preschool lately and as she looked for each word I noticed that she would make the beginning sound repeatedly, searching for a word beginning with the correct letter.
One of the pages we read had some simple three-letter words on it, the kind that sound exactly as they look like they should. So I pointed to one and asked Harper if she could tell what word it was by saying each letter's sound and putting them together. So she went:
buh, buh, buh, buh
a, a, a, a
duh, duh, duh, duh
It says, "Bad!"
Yup. Harper read her first word. I am getting goosebumps thinking about it. Reading is one of the things I love most in the world, and watching Harper make those first steps toward being able to read herself is so cool. One of my most favorite things about teaching first grade was watching kids learn to read. I feel so honored to witness this process in my own child. Amazing. I'm a proud mama tonight.
And speaking of my beautiful, amazing daughter... would you do something for her? Tomorrow (January 14) is the last day to submit public comments to the FDA as they revisit the issue of allergen labeling on food packages. Many of you already received an email about this today, but I want to make sure to cover all my bases. Here is the body of that email:
In recent years it has been the law that companies must list, in plain English, any of the top eight allergens (wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish, eggs, and shellfish) that are present in food. But that is where the requirement ends. Companies are not required by law to label for cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is a problem in the case of severe food allergies, like Harper's, because even a trace amount of the allergen can cause a reaction. That's why you see notes on some labels about products being manufactured on equipment that processes nuts or milk or eggs, etc. Companies voluntarily offer this information, sometimes. I send untold hours on the phone trying to figure out is safe for Harper to eat, and we still have to be prepared to administer an injection of epinephrine at anytime, because it is nearly impossible to be certain a food is safe, unless I grow it myself! Required labeling for cross-contamination would initially be a burden for many companies, but would make food much, much safer for people with food allergies.
I should have send this email sooner, as tomorrow (January 14) is the last day to submit public comments, but if you have a minute, and you feel comfortable doing so, would you please click the link below and leave a comment requesting stronger regulations and consistency in food allergen labeling? Especially if you work with children, this is a change that could make your job easier when dealing with any food allergies you might encounter.
(*You only have until tomorrow to submit your comments about the current "May contains" FDA food labeling. Click here for the form).
In my email I also posted the comment I left, as a suggestion of what you might like to say. Then I found these words on a facebook group page that I like even better than what I originally said:
"Thank you for accepting comments for your upcoming hearing on food allergy labeling laws. Please require companies to label for more than just the Top 8 allergens - perhaps the Top 12. I especially request that you require labeling for sesame, which is often hidden under the terms 'spices' or 'flavorings'. Sesame can be a life threatening allergen and consumers have the right to know if the food they are purchasing contains it. Please also require the allergens to be listed in bold letters on the label. Please require companies to label for shared equipment and shared facilities. Studies indicate that cross contamination from shared equipment is extremely common and extremely dangerous. Consumers should have this info to determine if they want to put themselves or their child at risk."
I have been really moved today by all the return emails I've received from people saying they'd already left a comment. It certainly can't hurt to try to make a difference here. I know Harper would appreciate it.