Author: Steve Coldwell

How to talk to your kid about not being perfect

Twelve years into this whole parenting thing, with my daughter barreling full tilt into her teen years, my wife and I have gotten a little bit lazy on certain aspects of the parenting game. Specifically, we’ve started to slack off when it comes to defending our personal reputations as paragons of parenting perfection in our daughter’s eyes.

Early on in your child’s development, you may find yourself fully and wholeheartedly committed to being the ultimate role model for every aspect of their lives. But as time goes on, it just gets tiring trying to cover up the mistakes of your past, and honestly, you might find it’s healthier for your kid’s emotional and social development to understand that every once in a while, everybody does stupid things.

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Not everything your child does is adorable

steve and sarahThere. I said it.

Not everything your child does is adorable. Yes, I’m talking about your kid. I’m also talking about my kid. Don’t get me wrong. They’re great. Kids are fabulous and inspiring. They can make you realize that your capacity for love is greater than you have ever imagined. They’re also rude. They’re selfish like you wouldn’t believe. Gross. Shockingly vicious. Thoughtless beyond comprehension. On their best days, they’re like puppies who are extra-resistant to potty training. On their worst? They’re tornadoes with teeth. They’re animals. Nothing but attitude and flailing fists and feet, usually aimed at your groin.

Let me take a step back and give you some context on where this is coming from. A few months ago, I was heading out of the office to grab a quick cup of coffee with a friend. As we got to the door to the building—the only way in or out—we came across a mother with three small children—two girls and a boy. The oldest girl was holding a stuffed dragon (Toothless from the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies) over her head, while her little brother and sister begged for it and tried to reach high enough to take it. Every time one of them got close, the older sister shoved them back and smacked them with the dragon. The dragon custody negotiations took place in the middle of the doorway for a good minute or so while foot traffic piled up on both sides.

We’ve all been there, right? Mom or dad, woefully outnumbered by kids—the kids going all “Lord of the Flies,” the situation spiraling out of control, the center cannot hold. The lone parent is clearly mortified and wanting to be anywhere else, and your heart goes out, because we’ve all been there. Oh, except in this case, Mom really didn’t seem to care too much, since she was just holding the door and checking her texts.

Eventually, little brother got Toothless. Mom finally hit “send,” confiscated the dragon, and returned it to the older girl so the beatings could continue. The gridlock cleared and we were on our way. My friend, who was in her second trimester and quite possibly giving a lot of thought to parenting at the time, quietly sighed and said “I really try not to judge, since I don’t have kids yet, but…”

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Happy 75th birthday, congenital heart defect surgery!

Robert Gross, MD

75 years ago Boston Children’s Hospital’s Robert Gross, MD, made medical history when he performed the first surgery to correct a congenital heart defect.

His patient was 7-year-old Lorraine Sweeney, from Brighton, Mass., who had been diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart defect consisting of a persistent abnormal opening between the pulmonary artery and the aorta. In 1938, it was generally a death sentence—but where others saw the impossible Gross, the chief surgical resident at Boston Children’s at the time, saw opportunity.

“If you look at the history of cardiac surgery,” says Boston Children’s Associate Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Mark Rockoff, MD, who also chairs the hospital’s Archives Program, “it essentially all started with Dr. Gross.”

After two years of successful animal experiments, Gross was certain that the defect could be corrected in a human being “without undue danger.” He lobbied for the opportunity to test his theory, despite skepticism from his peers, and direct opposition from William Ladd, MD, Boston Children’s surgeon-in-chief at the time, and Gross’s superior.

Undaunted, Gross waited until Ladd boarded a ship bound for a Europe. Then, with the blessing of Sweeney’s mother, he put his career on the line and performed a revolutionary surgery—tying off Sweeney’s patent ductus arteriosus, allowing normal flow of blood through her heart. “Dr. Gross told me that if I had died, he would never have worked again,” Sweeney recalls. “He would have ended up back on his family’s chicken farm.”

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Boston Children’s Nurses: Local care, global teaching

Boston Children's nurses demonstrate care techniques to an audience of thousands. Photo courtesy of Toni Imprescia, RN, CCRN

In a hospital in Guatemala—3,400 miles from Boston Children’s Hospital—a group of Boston Children’s nurses is teaching a class on how to use surgical safety checklists to improve safe perioperative practice.

Another group of nurses and physicians is sitting in on the same class, 10,000 miles away in Viet Nam. From Bangladesh to El Salvador, clinicians don’t need to leave their hospitals to benefit from the expertise of Boston Children’s staff—they just need a computer and an Internet connection.

The idea to have Boston Children’s nurses produce and broadcast educational webinars to hospitals in resource-limited countries started with Patricia Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, vice president of Cardiovascular/Critical Care Services, and Kathy Jenkins, MD, MPH, senior vice president and chief safety and quality officer. When the two attended the Global Forum on Humanitarian Medicine in Geneva in 2008, they discussed how the hospital could make a difference in the global health landscape. Although they encountered representatives from many countries who were interested in learning from Boston Children’s, the cost of traveling to each interested hospital was always going to be prohibitive—but the cost of broadcasting online to all of them at once was minimal.

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