Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bribes and Such

Getting Liam to sit still long enough to work on things he should know by kindergarten (which will be this coming August!) is like getting blood out of a turnip.  For months we've been working on the basics and the boy just doesn't care.  He will sit still and listen for two to three minutes, declare, "This is SO hard!" and then stomp off.  Evan, on the other hand, absorbs everything like a sponge, so much so that when I ask them to repeat something we've been working on, Evan is more than eager to answer first.  It was when Evan told Liam, "I'm smart and you're not," that I decided that something had to be done.

So I started bribing my kid to learn.  Sigh.

I hated it when my classmates were bribed for doing their homework and for getting good grades.  I'd bring home a report card with straight A's and get, "Good job.  Keep it up."  Then there was the girl down the street who was paid $20 for each A she earned.  That was per six weeks.  With six classes, she had the potential to earn $120 every six weeks and $720 for the year.  That's a lot of money to a high school student.  Heck, that's a lot of money for an adult and I'm not ashamed to admit that I was jealous of her reward.

But, you know what?  I learned to internally motivate myself and that's what I'd planned to do with my kids.  It worked on Sydney.  It works on Evan.  But Liam?  He needs a bribe.  (If you could see me, you'd see my head hanging in shame.)

I don't bribe him with money because he's five and so far, he has no use for money.  However, he does like M&Ms and to play Wii (Lego Star Wars is the current favorite) so those are his rewards.  And you know what?  It works.

Here's what I overheard today:

Liam: We want to play Wii, Daddy.

Ryan: What are the days of the week?

Liam: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Ryan: What's our address?

Liam: #### Correct Street Name

Ryan: Who is Luke Skywalker's father?

Liam: Darth Vader.

I cracked up.  I usually don't throw in Star Wars trivia, but I'm glad to know that he remembers it.

I'm not proud that we're having to bribe him to learn these things, but absolutely nothing else has worked for this kid.  And while it's great that his current rewards are inexpensive, I am kinda worried about what the rewards will have to be when he's a teenager.  Money?  A car?  An all-expenses paid trip to meet his current hero, George Lucas?

Or maybe he'll learn to motivate himself.  One can hope, right?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Aftermath

So it's been a week since the incident.  That's what I'm calling it now.  The words seizure, wreck and accident cause the kids to get that worried look on their faces so I'm trying to be careful with the words I use.  Sydney has stopped bursting into tears whenever it's mentioned.  I still get teary-eyed, but I'm guessing that's normal.

Unfortunately, I cannot get away from it.  I'm of the "it was a terrible thing for all of us to go through, but we're trying to get on with our lives" way of thinking, but every time I turn around, someone in our neighborhood or someone at church (also the boys' school) asks me about it.  Or worse, I hear little whispers as I walk by: "Oh, she's the one whose husband had a seizure and crashed the van with the kids inside."

I don't mind answering questions and accepting the heartfelt concern that everyone has.  I really don't.  The offers of help and sweet words have meant the world to me (both in real life and in the cyber-world).  However, like in any small(ish) town, there is a fine line between concern and gossip and I am most definitely not liking the feeling of being the subject of gossip.  I try really hard to not gossip about other people (to the extent that I've distanced myself from a friend I really like and get along with because she likes to gossip when we get together) and I wish others would do the same.  We purposely didn't talk about the incident on Facebook or publicize it on our Sunday School class's Yahoo group so that we could avoid being the center of attention, but here we are, right in the center anyway.

It will all blow over and in a week or two, someone else will have some kind of crisis and become the focus of the whispers; I already feel sorry for whoever that someone is.  I guess it can't be controlled, but I sure don't have to like it.

On a lighter note, I was able to finally meet the wonderful lady who stopped to help Ryan and the kids during the incident.  It turns out that she works at our favorite grocery store and for three straight days I tried to to catch her at work to say thank you.  Despite the feeling that the people at the service desk were about to label me a stalker, we finally caught up with her on Saturday and properly thanked her for all she did.  She and I both cried and I gave her the biggest hug imaginable.  I'm fairly certain the nearby customers thought we were both nuts, but I don't care.

On an even lighter note, I've been trying to focus on the humorous situations surrounding the incident such as:

* When the paramedics opened the van door to ask if the kids were okay, Liam informed them that he needed to go potty.  Well, they asked if he was okay, didn't they?

* When they asked Sydney if Ryan was allergic to anything (as in medications), she replied, "He's allergic to cats."  I don't know if they laughed or not, but how could they not?

* When Ryan asked Sydney how I reacted when I arrived at the scene, she told him that I was so upset that all I could do was talk really, really fast.  My secret's out:  I'm a fast talker when I'm nervous.

* Every time someone mentions what happened, Evan announces, "I didn't cry at all."  He's right.  He was the only one who didn't cry.

* One of the Super Bowl commercials we watched this past weekend showed a man having what appeared to be a heart attack in his car.  Sydney declared, "Hey, that guy's having a seizure in his car, too!"

 It may seem a bit strange to focus on the funny things, but it's a whole lot better than focusing on the "what if" things.  We certainly can't change what happened, but at least we can find enough to laugh about.  After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Ultimate Nightmare

Have you ever had the kind of nightmare that causes you to wake up in a cold sweat?  Like the kind in which a stranger calls to tell you that the people you love the most have been involved in a car accident?

Well, I have.  It was called Tuesday evening.  Except I didn't wake up from it because it was real.

There I was, humming along to my Pandora mix and putting the finishing touches on all the appetizers and desserts I was preparing for my book club when a stranger called to tell me that Ryan and the kids were involved in a car accident on their way home from eating out.

It had to be the absolute worst moment of my entire thirty something years of being.

I, of course, became hysterical.  The saint on the other end of the line reassured me that the kids were scared, but fine.  Ryan, however, was a different story.

He had a seizure while driving the kids home from the restaurant.  According to Sydney, his head flopped to the side, he began shaking as the van veered across three (usually congested, but at that exact moment, thankfully open) lanes of traffic.  They went up and over a median and then halfway up the concrete embankment of an underpass's turn-around-lane wall.  At that very moment, a car came through the turn-around lane and was able to stop before hitting the door right next to Evan.

This driver of that car turned out to be an angel sent from God.  She got Sydney to unbuckle her booster and then unlock the van.  She then managed to lean across the still seizing Ryan, put the van in park and turn it off.  She called 911 and helped him through his seizure (no easy feat - I know from experience).  Because they couldn't find his cell phone, she convinced Sydney to tell her our home number and called me.

I did an absolutely horrid of job of trying to calm Sydney down over the phone (being completely hysterical myself) and hurriedly called my parents to ask them to go sit with the kids while I made my way there.  Fortunately, they live just a few minutes from where the crash site.

My poor neighbors.  Who knows what they were thinking when I ran over to their house and pounded on their door until they answered.  Sweet people that they are, one offered to drive me to the scene because heaven knows I was in absolutely no condition to drive at that point.  I  could barely breathe; driving was out of the question.  Her husband offered to tell all of my book club friends that the evening's meeting was canceled.

That was the longest drive of my life.  I have never prayed so hard.  My neighbor dropped me off at the scene, but traffic was too bad for her to be able to stop.  I ran as fast as my short, stubby legs would let me and fell into my mother's arms.  Not my finest moment.

I checked on the kids first and they were fine.  Evan looked like he had no idea what was going on.  Liam's eyes were red, like he'd been crying and Sydney was just as, if not more, hysterical than myself.  I reassured them that everything would be OK and just I was turning around to run to the ambulance, it pulled away.  My mother reassured me that Ryan was fine, considering what had just occurred; he'd been lucid enough to talk to her right before I got there.

I drove the van home after the police officers asked me a few questions and my mom bathed the kids and put them to bed while my dad and I made the now all too familiar trek to the emergency room.

Ryan was fine.  He didn't hit his head when the van finally came to a halting stop and the airbag didn't deploy so we're guessing that he wasn't going all that fast.  His neurologist has told him to double up on his anti-seizure medication and make a follow-up appointment.

In the meantime, he is not allowed to drive.  His driver's license hasn't officially been suspended yet, but it's just a matter of time since the police had to file a report.  And even if they don't take away his license, I'm not going to let him drive for a very, very long time.

I've talked about angels before and I am convinced that angels were everywhere during this whole thing.  The lanes of traffic that they crossed are almost always congested with cars (as in several thousand cars pass through that intersection during the evening rush hour), but at that exact moment, there were none.  The van also missed the six gigantic cement pillars that hold up the freeway overpass.  The woman who stopped to help them and call me was definitely an angel here on earth.  I found out where she works and I'm going to try to locate her and give her the biggest hug imaginable.  My parents are angels for taking control of the situation and looking after the kids while I made my way there.  My neighbor, who said she completely lost it after I got out of her car and she saw exactly where our van ended up, is an angel for getting me there safely and attempting to calm me down on the way.

What did I learn from this?  For one, count your blessings.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Your life and the lives of those you love can change in an instant.  Second, there are genuinely good people left in the world.  The evening news may make you doubt that, but in a crisis, people, even complete strangers, can and will do the right thing.  And third, I learned just how much I love my family.  I mean, I knew I loved them.  Of course I love them; they are my family.  But in that split second when I thought I'd lost them all, I found out just how desperately I love each and every single one of them.

It's been a couple of days now and I've finally calmed down and the adrenaline has finally left my system.  At some point, we're going to have to tell those around us, not just our family and closest friends, what went on.  People are going to start to wonder why Ryan never drives anywhere or why he's working from home.  I'm sure it will be awkward, but it is what it is.

I'm just happy to have everyone home safe and sound.  The rest doesn't really matter.