April 8, 2008

What is the world coming to?

I think Beebo has an earache. He will be asleep and all of a sudden he stiffens his body, screams and starts scratching his face. Right next to his ears. I am taking him tomorrow to find out. Poor guy. His face is worse now than it was in the previous pictures. So so sad. But he is as happy as can be.

Baboo is doing so well on his meds that it is unbelievable! We have had only one problem we have had since he started and it wasn’t even his fault.

The schools in our area have a NO FIGHTING policy. If a child picks a fight with another child and it gets physical everyone is to blame. Apparently there is a rugrat on his bus that is a constant trouble maker and has it out for Baboo. His ‘4th grade guardian’ wasn’t on the bus to block him in and he meandered back to Baboo’s seat and started hitting him. So Baboo fought back.

Now luckily the principal caught my husband on the phone at home and not me. The first thing I thought of was FIGHT OR FLIGHT.

I found this:

What is the "fight or flight response?"
This fundamental physiologic response forms the foundation of modern day stress medicine. The "fight or flight response" is our body's primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from perceived attack, harm or threat to our survival.

Interesting…I wonder what else it says.

What happens to us when we are under excessive stress?

When we experience excessive stress—whether from internal worry or external circumstance—a bodily reaction is triggered, called the "fight or flight" response. Originally discovered by the great Harvard physiologist Walter Cannon, this response is hard-wired into our brains and represents a genetic wisdom designed to protect us from bodily harm. This response actually corresponds to an area of our brain called the hypothalamus, which—when stimulated—initiates a sequence of nerve cell firing and chemical release that prepares our body for running or fighting.

What are the signs that our fight or flight response has been stimulated (activated)?

When our fight or flight response is activated, sequences of nerve cell firing occur and chemicals like adrenaline, noradrenalin and cortisol are released into our bloodstream. These patterns of nerve cell firing and chemical release cause our body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes. Our respiratory rate increases. Blood is shunted away from our digestive tract and directed into our muscles and limbs, which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting. Our pupils dilate. Our awareness intensifies. Our sight sharpens. Our impulses quicken. Our perception of pain diminishes. Our immune system mobilizes with increased activation. We become prepared—physically and psychologically—for fight or flight. We scan and search our environment, "looking for the enemy."

When our fight or flight system is activated, we tend to perceive everything in our environment as a possible threat to our survival. By its very nature, the fight or flight system bypasses our rational mind—where our more well thought out beliefs exist—and moves us into "attack" mode. This state of alert causes us to perceive almost everything in our world as a possible threat to our survival. As such, we tend to see everyone and everything as a possible enemy. Like airport security during a terrorist threat, we are on the look out for every possible danger. We may overreact to the slightest comment. Our fear is exaggerated. Our thinking is distorted. We see everything through the filter of possible danger. We narrow our focus to those things that can harm us. Fear becomes the lens through which we see the world.

We can begin to see how it is almost impossible to cultivate positive attitudes and beliefs when we are stuck in survival mode. Our heart is not open. Our rational mind is disengaged. Our consciousness is focused on fear, not love. Making clear choices and recognizing the consequences of those choices is unfeasible. We are focused on short-term survival, not the long-term consequences of our beliefs and choices. When we are overwhelmed with excessive stress, our life becomes a series of short-term emergencies. We lose the ability to relax and enjoy the moment. We live from crisis to crisis, with no relief in sight. Burnout is inevitable. This burnout is what usually provides the motivation to change our lives for the better. We are propelled to step back and look at the big picture of our lives—forcing us to examine our beliefs, our values and our goals.

What is our fight or flight system designed to protect us from?

Our fight or flight response is designed to protect us from the proverbial saber tooth tigers that once lurked in the woods and fields around us, threatening our physical survival. At times when our actual physical survival is threatened, there is no greater response to have on our side. When activated, the fight or flight response causes a surge of adrenaline and other stress hormones to pump through our body. This surge is the force responsible for mothers lifting cars off their trapped children and for firemen heroically running into blazing houses to save endangered victims. The surge of adrenaline imbues us with heroism and courage at times when we are called upon to protect and defend the lives and values we cherish.
Once it has been triggered, what is the natural conclusion of our fight or flight response?
By its very design, the fight or flight response leads us to fight or to flee—both creating immense amounts of muscle movement and physical exertion. This physical activity effectively metabolizes the stress hormones released as a result of the activation of our fight or flight response. Once the fighting is over, and the threat—which triggered the response—has been eliminated, our body and mind return to a state of calm.

Now I know that it is not the principal’s fault. She didn’t make up the rule. I will give her a small break and that is hard for me because I am a realist. I don't expect children to be robots but I do expect them to follow rules within reason for their age. But is he really supposed to sit there and let the kid pound on him and wait until the inattentive bus driver realized what was going on? I guess you can deny the science of our bodies and punish involuntary reactions. It's not like he could flee!

All I know is that Baboo is lucky that she didn’t get a hold of me. I think I will let her know Thursday at his Spring Concert about how I feel. Or email her and the school superintendent the ‘fight or flight’ info. It’s ridiculous. We told Baboo that if someone attacks or hits him he has a right to fight back and he scraps every now and then but never, ever will he hit a girl. I refuse to raise children that can’t stick up for themselves or lack free-thinking. I think the kid was actually older than him too. Poor guy.

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