MOM on a Mission: Locking up the Nutmeg

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Who moved my nutmeg?

Numerous parents may find themselves asking that question this holiday season. Baking scrumptious treats laden with cinnamon and nutmeg is a favorite tradition in many households. Those of you familiar with the spice know that it can be purchased whole and grated into recipes, or pre-ground as a course, grainy powder.

What in the world does this holiday cooking lesson have to do with kids, you ask? First, I have found cooking to be a great way to connect with my son. He loves to invent recipes, and particularly enjoys trying new spices. His favorite is cinnamon. We made Thanksgiving dinner together this year. His contribution was deciding on a vegetarian dressing made with apples, onions, celery, walnuts, garlic, seasoned bread cubes and yes, cinnamon. To compliment the dressing, our spice rub on the turkey included a healthy dose of … you guessed it, cinnamon. It was awesome!

While we cook, we talk - sometimes about absolutely nothing, but occasionally a really tough or uncomfortable issue can be addressed in a non-threatening way while we are focused on the task of improving a cookie recipe or sauteing the perfect shrimp. It also gives my son a chance to operate on equal ground. Often times he is in charge, and I am Sous (his cooking nickname for me). He teaches me to be a little more "outside the box." Cooking has also encouraged him to try new foods. He is a finicky eater, but less so when he is making the cooking decisions.

I am afraid I have to interrupt this lovely family moment to tell you my second reason for writing about nutmeg. KIDS ARE GETTING "HIGH" WITH NUTMEG!!!

I recently learned that kids are using nutmeg to hallucinate.

They are eating it in large doses (nutmeg is tasty, but only in very small quantities).

They are sniffing it (remember nutmeg has the consistency of sandbox sand)

And even smoking it (lovely aroma, but really?).

The Georgia Poison Center is warning kids not to smoke or snort nutmeg. Side effects including severe headache, nausea and dizziness have been documented at Albany Memorial and Samaritan Hospitals, and Washington University.

Feeling sick seems like a high price to pay for the hallucinogenic payoff. Severe headache, dizziness and nausea are symptoms I want to avoid.  However, I am not thinking with the formative brain of a teenager, and I don’t face the same kind of peer pressure that makes kids push limits. Adolescents are notoriously vulnerable to poor decisions with bad outcomes.

If you take anything away from this, let it be that kids do think outside the box. This is a fantastic quality that we should embrace and encourage. I just try to make sure my son's outside-the-box decisions are related to what new spice he can put on the turkey, not what new spice he can put up his nose.

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MOM on a Mission is written by a suburban Atlanta mother who prefers to remain anonymous so she can be candid and sincere about the everyday trials of the parent child relationship while protecting her family's privacy.

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