Conversations with kids on the Marathon anniversary

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 16, 2014 06:00 AM

Barbara,
My son is 11, totally freaking out this week with 1 year anniversary of the Marathon bombing. We were not there, he does not know anyone who was injured or killed, we don't even live near Boston! By freaking out, I mean anxious and easily tearing up. He is not usually like this. He told me he's worried there will be more bombings. My two other kids are younger and they are fine. Go figure. I have a feeling I should talk to him but I don't know what to say.
Western Mass Mom

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Girl Scouts and Barbie? Not a good match

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 10, 2014 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,
My daughter, 7, is a Brownie, something I encouraged because I did it as a girl and loved it. The troop recently began a project called a Barbie Patch. I asked the troop leader about it and she said it was a national project. On line, I saw that the Girl Scouts have teamed up with Mattel and are receiving big $$ for its partnership. I don't want to be "that" mother who makes everyone else uncomfortable, including my daughter, but it doesn't feel right to me that the Brownies are pushing Barbie on my daughter when she and her friends weren't even into Barbie. Maybe they would be on their own one of these days, but they weren't yet. I can't decide whether this is worth a stand or not. Thoughts?
From: former Girl Scout in NJ

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A guide to a baby's developmental milestones

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 4, 2014 06:00 AM

Hello!

This comes under the category of "meddling" mothers-in-law. (I cringe even as I type this because my mother has a son and maybe I will, too, so, you know....) But. My MIL keeps telling me my son is "slow" to do this and she "worries" about that and.....the list keeps growing. He's 3! The latest is that he's "not physical enough," whatever that means. I am pretty confident my son is well within typical ranges. My ped says so and our instincts do, too. Any suggestions how to (politely) tell her to back off. We love her, really!

From: We love her. Really!

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Toddler's mealtime need not equal throw-everything-on-the-floor time

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 25, 2014 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

I need some help with my 22- month- old son during meal time. The main issue is that he throws his food, cup, bowl, plate, place mat, utensils and anything else he can while he is eating. He does this throughout the meal, not just at the end when he may not be as hungry. In fact, in between throwing food he will happily shovel food into his mouth. So it doesn't seem to matter if he likes the food or not. He chucks it all the same!

My husband and I have tried praising when he eats and doesn't throw food, we have ignored him when he does it, we have also limited the amount of food on his plate so he has less to throw or what is in his reach. Sometimes [I] have fed him before my husband and I eat, so we can give him attention and we also tried eating together so that he can model our behavior as well. I know he is clearly looking for a reaction from us and wants to see consistency in our response but I'm at my wits end! I hear a lot that it's a "phase" and it will pass, but it is hard to ignore that all the food we spend so much time preparing ends up on the floor (organic chicken and yams aren't cheap!). The only thing we haven't tried is a "time out" because if he gets out of his seat, it would be difficult to get him to eat anything. Any tips you could recommend would help!

From: Jennifer, Swampscott, MA

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Toddler's mealtime need not mean "throw everything on the floor"

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 25, 2014 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

I need some help with my 22- month- old son during meal time. The main issue is that he throws his food, cup, bowl, plate, place mat, utensils and anything else he can while he is eating. He does this throughout the meal, not just at the end when he may not be as hungry. In fact, in between throwing food he will happily shovel food into his mouth. So it doesn't seem to matter if he likes the food or not. He chucks it all the same!

My husband and I have tried praising when he eats and doesn't throw food, we have ignored him when he does it, we have also limited the amount of food on his plate so he has less to throw or what is in his reach. Sometimes [I] have fed him before my husband and I eat, so we can give him attention and we also tried eating together so that he can model our behavior as well. I know he is clearly looking for a reaction from us and wants to see consistency in our response but I'm at my wits end! I hear a lot that it's a "phase" and it will pass, but it is hard to ignore that all the food we spend so much time preparing ends up on the floor (organic chicken and yams aren't cheap!). The only thing we haven't tried is a "time out" because if he gets out of his seat, it would be difficult to get him to eat anything. Any tips you could recommend would help!

From: Jennifer, Swampscott, MA

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'Why is this little boy calling my daddy daddy?'

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 19, 2014 05:13 PM

Hi Barbara,

My boyfriend is going thru a divorce and they still live together (in separate rooms of course- their lives are very separate and have been separated for a few years now) since she is in the process of finding a place to move into. They have a 4 year old boy and a 3 year old boy. My boyfriend and I got pregnant unexpectedly and we now have a 17 month old boy. Both of our families have been pushing for the boys to meet and my boyfriend has been on board but his ex has been causing issues and finally we are ready for them to meet irregardless of her feelings. We have seen a psychologist who said now is the time for them to meet, when they are young and have them meet at the park and make it casual. I agreed to not be there at the first meeting, as did she (her idea) but after that, I will be present. What are your thoughts? Thank you so much!

From: Christina

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'Love is a beautiful thing'

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 17, 2014 06:00 AM

Dear readers,

No Q&A today because:

Every once in a while, we just need a chance to smile....and I bet this will do it.

The video, which comes from my friend, Brenda Dater, of the Asperger's Association of New England, is of the Newton Family Singers, a chorus of children and parents singing a composition by one of the group's parents. It's about parental love for a child who experiences and interacts with the world in a different way. What's more, for every "LIKE" that the video gets on YouTube, the video sponsors will contribute $1 to AANE and the Autism Alliance of Metrowest, up to a maximum of $4,000.

Here's betting you'll be humming the tune for hours....and maybe feel inspired, refreshed and renewed.

Preteen seeking more independence

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 13, 2014 06:00 AM

Barbara and readers,

I'm hoping for some wisdom/insight into middle-schoolers. My sixth-grade son is very responsible and has a good set of friends (what do I mean by good? Solid students, hard-working families, caring attitudes.) My son is beginning to push the limits and wanting more independence. We are not sure how to respond. When is it appropriate for him to go to the movies without an adult? To the mall? To be at someone's house without an adult? Recently, he went from one friend's house where we dropped him off, to another friend's house without telling us. We were very angry.

Thanks to everyone!
From: FMB, Rochester

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4-year-old wants to play soccer -- but only if he can hold dad's hand

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 10, 2014 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,

My son is four and a half. Last fall he joined a soccer team. He was tentative at first and then in time became more comfortable playing, but for most of the season he wouldn't play without his dad out on the field with him holding his hand.

He's about to start a new season in the spring, and he's very excited about it, but my husband and I are unsure of how to handle things this time. We've already mentioned that this season we want him to play without Daddy, and he started to get upset, and ask why.

We want him to be independent and play on his own, but worry about pushing him too much if he's just not ready to play solo. Most of all we want him to feel secure and have fun.

Should we continue to join the kids on the field or should we stand back and let him do it on his own?

Thanks,
Soccer Mom

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Mom taken by surprise by the 'Do I have a vagina?' question

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 7, 2014 06:00 AM

Hello,
My daughter (first grade) asked me if I have a vagina. Boy, was I surprised! I guess I sputtered. We have never used that word with her. After a fashion, I said yes, all girls have a vagina. She said, I thought so. (!) Then I asked her where she learned that. She named a playmate. I don't think of us (myself and my husband) as prudes (at all!) but this made me wonder what else she's learning from children her age. Yikes. What's appropriate? What should I be telling her? I learned a lot from my friends, too, but not when I was 6.
From: Flustered, Chicago

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'I don't like you!'

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 3, 2014 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,

I have a 3 1/2 year old little girl who keeps me on my toes most days. Her latest is telling everyone and anyone, "I don't like you." She says this to doctors, dentists, friends, babysitters, etc. She says this when she first sees someone (like the doctor or babysitter) or after a while of playing with friends. I can see that some people take it personally (understandably) and I feel bad about it. I have explained to my daughter that we don't say that to people, that it is not nice. I say this in a matter of fact tone. My 3 year old does not seem interested in what I am saying about this. She knows I don't like it so she wants to do it all the time. I know this is a phase she will outgrow (hopefully!!), but in the interim what can I do?

Thanks for your help.

From: Concerned in Concord (MA)

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Young boy's eating isn't as big a problem as the fights it's causing between mom and dad

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 25, 2014 06:00 AM

Hello Barbara,

My husband and 7- year- old are fighting over the refrigerator. My solution was to buy extra so supplies are always available. Even when there is a lot on hand, [my husband] still monitors his drinking and snacking. My son is not skinny but not overweight either. He is just a big boy. Always has been. Lately my husband has been monitoring him more and more. He makes comments about getting fat if he keeps eating all the time. My husband and I are very active people. We love to exercise and be healthy. My son is also active with soccer and karate. Last night we had a big nasty fight because he yelled at my son for eating my ice cream. I am constantly telling my husband to stop saying those things and leave my son alone. At the same time, I reassure my son that he can eat and drink whatever he wants within reason. I let him snack after dinner all the time. Sometimes I make him have fruit instead of chips or chocolate for example. I’m writing because my son's reaction last night, has made me very sad and angry. It took a long time to calm him down. He even stated, “why doesn’t daddy like me?” This is not common place but has been happening a lot more lately. I don’t know what to do. Talking isn’t helping.

From: Anonymous

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Toddler's anxiety about day care is cause for concern

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 20, 2014 06:00 AM

Hello!
My son will turn 3 in September. He has been going to the same daycare for 2 years now and he still cries when I drop him off. He hates to go and asks me every day if it is daycare day, even on weekends. He will not eat there and he is there all day long and even regressed once I had potty trained him. He does not talk to the daycare workers much at all and still cries quite a bit even during the day. His brother is in school now so he comes over to the daycare now after school and he has an older sister and she is at daycare with him all day long. He still does not like to go. He follows her around and does not play with the other kids much at all.
I have made a good bye ritual and I make sure to tell him that I will be back to get him but he still hates it and cries a lot!
I am a full time student so during the summer I do take them out of daycare and then for my Christmas break they don’t go either. But this seems like he should be out of this stage since he has been going for so long! Any ideas? Do you think he has separation anxiety disorder and if so what can I do?
From: (not given)

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Don't flush the goldfish! Cautionary words about a pet's death

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 18, 2014 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara.
Our pooch is getting old. How can we prepare our kids for the inevitable? They are 4 and 6. BTW, we, the adults, will be just as devastated as the kids and that's part of our concern.
From: Loving our dog, Cape Cod

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3-year-old is trying mom's patience

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 11, 2014 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed.]
Dear Barbara,
I am a patient mom. I am a single mom by choice. I have the best kid. He is bright, happy, intelligent, and definitely ahead of the game. We really do have a great time and he is very kind to others and receptive to the needs of others. He will be 4 yrs old in April and I can attest that age 3-4 is hands down the hardest year we have had. As I said, I am patient, I don't say "no" all of the time, I allow him to learn through his own actions (safely). However, I have a switch that he can flip and I lose it. I have made a pact with myself not to scream. I feel that screaming doesn't help, it makes me feel awful, and then I set the example that it is appropriate to cope that way. That said, I have tried all the tricks, I have changed schedules, routines, etc. but the morning routine of getting out the door is awful. And more times than I want, we leave hurried, upset, and late.

My question...do even the best of the best, the Jane Nelsen's of the parenting world never completely lose it? How can anyone live with a 3 year old [who] never lets up, not finally throw their hands in the air and resort to the only thing they haven't tried...screaming?

I don't want age 3-4 to be what defines my relationship with this amazing little person that I love dearly. I remember feeling that same impatience with my mom and I don't want to portray that to him. But I don't know developmentally if they pick up and remember this age or if I got that feeling from mom at a later age.

Thanks for your insight. It is much appreciated.

From: AN,

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Who's a potty-mouth poopy-head?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 6, 2014 06:00 AM

Barbara,

Every other word out of my kiddo's mouth is potty-this and poopy-that. He's in kindergarten and this is brand new behavior. What can I do to get rid of this? I've thought of washing his mouth out with soap!! JK, but really, I'm hating this.

FROM: Cleanmouth, Jacksonville, FLA

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Bed-wetting in wake of dad's death

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 3, 2014 04:14 PM

Hello Barbara ,,,,,I'm so concerned about my 6 year old grandson,,, he was dry every night and during the day,,, right up until he was just turned 4 years old when his Daddy died ,,,Since then, Ethan has been wet every night and he wets himself during the day too ,,,he's a really lovely, well- behaved boy ,,,,he misses his Daddy so very very much ,,,and has been having unprofessional counseling for almost 2 years since our son died ,,,our daughter in law doesn't seem to have much patience with him and is always comparing Ethan's 3 year old sister in front of him saying she's younger and dry all the time ,,,,,our daughter- in- law also keeps telling Ethan that he stinks of pee ,,,,so she isn't really helping him at all ,,,,she has had him to the Doctor's a couple of times but the Doctor says he will eventually grow out of it ,,,,,Barbara please what can we do? Thank you for listening.

From, Worried grandmother ,,,,

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Is this moodiness or something else?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 30, 2014 06:00 AM

Our 6-year-old daughter is often negative, grumpy, and/or angry. She is also headstrong. When she is told she can't do something, she becomes angry. Yesterday she wanted to play on the playground. It was freezing cold, so I told her not today, perhaps tomorrow. In one second, she had put on her "mad" face and stomped her feet. This happens frequently. When her brother asks her to move to the other side of the couch so he can sit down, she never just complies. She refuses to move, and then when we make her, she becomes angry. At school, if her teacher asks her to do something she doesn't want to, she'll resist and then, when made to do it, she'll stomp and sulk. She yells at other kids in school when they disagree with her or "accidentally" bump into her.

It's creating a negative atmosphere in the house, and it's exhausting me. She doesn't have anything stressful going on. She has a loving home, lots of consistency. We are not yellers. She is not over-scheduled. If she is out of control, she is sent to her room to calm down, and she generally does within minutes.

I know part of it is her general personality…she is dramatic in general (and when she's happy, she's overflowing with happiness)…but it seems so over the top to us. We've tried to help her deal with her emotions, by deep breathing or counting to 10 or taking some time in her room to calm down, but she even becomes angry when we suggest that to her.

From: KM, Norwood, MA

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UK mom: get professional help with your step-daughter

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 28, 2014 06:00 AM


Hi,
My step daughter is 4 and very immature, she basically acts like a 2 year old though she turns 5 in a less then a few months. Her father has no bond with her as he missed nearly all of her life until we got custody...almost a year ago now.
She throws tantrums kicking, hitting, screaming, banging, self- hitting and recently refusing to go to bed! I mean, to the point of us putting up a baby gate to keep her in her rooms as she kicks and screams...We've tried to get advice from every where....What's the best way to deal with these tantrums?! Are we alone in this! We know it's just for attention, that she wants to be the baby of the family since our daughter was born.
We've tried to explain, she's got to grow up, yet she doesn't.

Advice please.
From: C.bing, United Kingdom
________________________________________

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You can't 'make' a teen care about grades

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 23, 2014 06:00 AM

My son is an eighth grader. He is not trying at school. He doesn't care about school and doesn't apply himself. If he put in some effort, he'd be a B student. I'd be happy with that. But he doesn't do anything and he gets C- or C. We've tried offering rewards for good grades and cutting off privileges for bad ones. Nothing works. What can we do to make him care enough to try harder? We want him to go to college.

From: BV, Brockton, MA

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What happened to this 20-month-old's good sleeping habits?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 21, 2014 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara --

My husband and I enjoyed several months this fall of beautiful sleep. Our 20-month-old son took his daily nap and slept happily through the night, fully understanding the sleep cues of the nighttime routine we've used almost his entire life. We put him down awake but drowsy, and he was fine.

All of that changed right after the New Year. For the past two weeks, it's as though he forgot how to put himself to sleep (and back to sleep). He will not lay down in his crib at night, and often cries for us. We take turns going in to comfort him, and even if we rock him so soundly that he's snoring, he wakes right up when we put him down. It's a cycle. Some nights, he doesn't sob, but he does whimper a bit, and sits in the same corner of his crib. We watch him on the monitor as he fights sleep for 45 minutes and eventually drifts off sitting up and topples over. (If he doesn't cry, we've been letting him fall asleep this way.) Half of the week, he wakes around 2-4 a.m. and won't go back to sleep.

Some notes:
• We both had a week off at Christmas and our son had a lot of excitement. Despite this, he still slept just fine. The problems started when we both went back to work.(I work PT from home, so he's not in daycare.)
• We have analyzed the wall in his room he's always facing, sitting up, in his crib. We've taped over all lights from the monitor, etc. to eliminate any shadows that could be scary.
• Nothing has changed from his bedtime routine.
Our son grows more aware of his environment each day. So I recognize something he didn't notice for a year could suddenly be disturbing. But I'm at a loss for what it could be. If something is scaring him, I want to comfort him, but I also worry that by running back in there every night, we could be reinforcing the idea that there is something to be afraid of.

What's developmentally appropriate at this point? What do you think could be going on? Thank you,

From: Nan, Concord, MA

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In her cleaning frenzy, did this MIL go too far?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 16, 2014 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,

I have two married children, a son and a daughter. I am blessed not only to have grandchildren (son has 3 yo and 12 month old, daughter has 14 month old) but also to have them all live close by, and to have good enough relationships that we have keys to each others' homes.

Recently, I dropped off something at my son's when no one was home. (They were expecting me to.) Their house was a wreck! My DIL clearly had left in a rush, getting two kids off to daycare and herself to work.(I'm not judging, I get that.) I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, emptied the dishwasher, picked up toys, folded the pile of laundry on top of the dryer.

That was three days ago. No one called to say thank you. By the same token, no one called to say, "Why did you do that?!" NOT that I did this for a thank you. I did this because I wanted my son and DIL to not come home to all that work after picking up the kids. I did it because I could. It was exactly what I would have done in my daughter's home.

But now with this silence, I am worried they are angry with me. I feel paralyzed. What should I do?

From: HT, Hartford


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Indonesian mom and dad need less stress, not more

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 14, 2014 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed -- BFM.]
Dear Barbara,

I came to read your blog upon looking 'mother-in-law, parenting issue.' It is not directly my problem but my brother's and his wife.

They had a baby just two months ago. They decided that the mother and baby would be living with her Mom for the first 40 days so that my sister-in-law could get a hang on parenting newborn. But her house is too cramped, meaning one family consists of three stayed in one room, including the baby. Even my brother couldn't sleep in the room so they were 'separated' for that 40 days.

Then, they moved to my mother's house where they have their own room. And the baby has his own crib. They'll visit her mom every weekend. The initial plan was to leave the baby under my mother's care while both parents are working.

However, my sister-in-law had a change of heart. She was concerned that my mom's physical condition is not strong enough to be left alone to handle a ... baby.

My mother is 63 years old, she is diabetic [but healthy]....My sister-in-law insisted that they should bring the baby to her mom's house every morning then returned with him to my mom's at night. My brother tried to talk her out of it because that was not the plan and he felt that it would bring rage to our mom. She didn't like her grandson being brought to her in-law's house because it was too small and worried the baby would be suffocating in the room for over-crowded people.

She insisted and it has caused a bit strain in their marriage. My brother told me that he was a bit frustrated as he know the decision would not be accepted gladly by our mom and he was against the fact that the baby was treated like a ping-pong.

I suggested that he could talked to his mother-in-law to persuade her daughter to abandon the idea.... There was also another option that she would leave her job and be a stay-at-home mom...

What I would like to ask is do you think I should to talk to my sister-in-law too? I mean, my brother is still trying to talk to her again. Do you think I'd be meddling too much on their situation? If I should talk, what is the best thing to say to her? When is the best time?

Thanks in advance for your response. Really appreciate it!

From: Fidel, Jakarta, Indonesia


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Hair-puller pushes mom's buttons

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 6, 2014 06:00 AM

Hi, Barbara,

I came across this article about a women's toddler who was pulling hair in their play group. I am having the same exact issue with my toddler and I was curious if you knew of what happened with Kristine's little one. Did your advice help her, did she do something else, or did she just have to let this "phase" run its course? If you could let me know I'd appreciate it. I'm at my wits end with my 16-month old. He pulls everyone's hair - especially other kids. It's not because they have a toy he wants or the other kid made him mad, he literally pulls hair because I think he likes it. I've noticed when I bend down in front of him and see's the back of my head or top of my scalp, that's when he'll pull. It's been stressful because I'm literally like a bird swooping over him during classes and it really stinks because I'm afraid he's going to hurt someone - or that we are going to be asked to not come back. It's stressful too - I want to enjoy these classes with him, but we can't. HELP! Thanks.

**Vicki**

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Books for a new year

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz December 31, 2013 06:00 AM

Hi!
One of my New Year's resolutions is to read one really good parenting book. What can you suggest? Oh, my kids are 4 and 7!
Thanks,
MJ, Boston

Barbara,
I've been dreading the preteen years since my daughter was born, almost 9 years ago. Now that we are actually there :( I'd like to be as well-prepared as possible. Can you suggest some good books?

Sad Mama, Portsmouth, NH

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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
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