Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Win Treats and Influence People

"I pee pee in the POTTY!" Annabelle emphatically declared earlier this evening.

I turned my head toward the bathroom just in time to see my sweet little thing doing what can only be described as a Frankenwalk in my direction while holding her little green potty above her head with both hands.  "Don't spill" I warned.

I knew what was coming next.

"Treat?" she asked, as she reached me in time to hold out said potty in front of me as verification that she had, indeed, clocked in this particular evening and thus she was entitled to her just compensation.

"Treat Daddy?" she again inquired, giving me a sweet look that, of course, I was no match for.  "Yes Sweetie" I responded.  "How about a Smartie?"

She liked that well enough.  "But now you have to eat some more of your dinner Sweetie" I tried to sound firm but loving at the same time.  It worked.....for a bit.  However, a few moments later, Annabelle was once again down from her dinner chair and headed to the potty.

And once again, she walked out the the bathroom declaring that she was owed a treat. She even gave herself a mumbling, but pretty darn cute "Hup hup huvay" as she threw her hands in the air.  After proper verification I once again rewarded her with a smartie candy. A pink one this time.

Now, while two pees in the potty in one evening is a pretty good output for a 2.5 year old, I was unprepared for what was next.  (No, it wasn't that.  We are still working on that one.) Annabelle, the prudent business woman that she is, apparently realizing that this whole getting a treat thing was pretty cool (especially since she has a very pronounced sweet tooth) decided that she was going to cut down on quality while increasing output.

No less than 3 more times, our tiny entrepreneur ran off to the loo and came out declaring that there was something treat worthy for me to see in there.

Not much, mind you, but each time there was indeed something in the bottom of that potty. After one of the last visits I joked to Mrs. LIAYF  "I think we should start calling her Squirt." as I focused trying to see if there was actually anything in there.

Then, after her last trip, and I again verified the contents I was amazed that she wasn't dry.  "Where is all this pee pee coming from Annabelle?" I asked, in all seriousness.

"MY BUTT!" came her emphatic reply.  Mrs. LIAYF and I just laughed.

Well, I did ask.

"Not quite Sweetie, but good job none the less! Have another Smartie."

Friday, August 14, 2015

They Saw The Sign, It Opened Up Their Eyes

As has happened countless times in the past few weeks, Lukas and I passed several groups of people at the Zoo today while in his wheelchair - only to hear them whispering behind us. Most of the time it was obviously about him, not matter how quiet they were trying to be. But we didn't mind.  Especially Lukas.

In fact he welcomed it.

Other times, we were actually approached by friendly folks who wanted to chat about our 8 year old's predicament.   But it wasn't always that way.

As I mentioned recently in a post here, our son is spending the summer in the aforementioned wheelchair because he suffered a spiral fracture of his femur and had a plate and eight screws surgically installed in a 4 hour procedure.  It was a freak skateboard accident, and we all have come to terms with what that means for our summer plans as well as our daily routine.

But Lukas is not one to mope about being confined to a chair with wheels as his primary propulsion device outside the home.  In fact, he has gone out of his way to wheel himself over to a pack of friends, or kids who were strangers for that matter and interjected himself into their conversations.  He so wants to be a part of all that is going on.

Now, they will most often include him in the conversation, save for a few instances which didn't deter him, but at first it was different.

In the first couple of weeks after his surgery, the reactions of people we passed out in public was very different.  It was Lukas who noticed it early on.  "Mom, why do all the grown ups look away when we pass?" he asked Mrs. LIAYF.  "And the kids stare at me, but don't say anything."

After his Mother had explained to him that people can be a bit uncomfortable seeing someone in a wheelchair and not knowing the reason (he has no cast on his leg, therefore it wasn't obvious what was wrong) that they are often afraid to say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing, it was decided that something needed done to rectify this situation. Maybe people would react differently if they knew what had happened.

And since we were all set for him to  wheel through our local 4th of July Kids Parade the next day, Mrs. LIAYF made Lukas a pretty cool sign to hang on back.  It says "I broke my leg skateboarding" along with a drawing of a skateboard.

This has made a world of difference in how he is interacted with out in public.  As I mentioned, as we pass people we are constantly hearing them whisper to each other.  "It say he broke his leg skateboarding." someone will invariably whisper to a companion.  They will then chuckle.

As I mentioned, many will now approach us and want to chat about the injury, commiserate by relaying their own broken limb story, or simply compliment him on his sign.  "Awesome sign dude.  That explains a lot" is a common response his will get.

Interestingly enough, another common statement we will get goes something along the lines of "Is that sign to deflect having to answer all the questions about it?"  To which they are often very surprised when we tell them it's for the opposite reason.

I can completely understand where these folks are coming from too.  Before this, I would have a similar reaction to someone else's child in a wheelchair.  I would feel really terrible for them and probably not know exactly what to say, especially if I didn't know the reason behind the confinement.

Still, I don't know what a person permanently confined to a wheelchair might think of such a sign.  Would they think that we are trying to make sure everyone knew that this was a temporary thing, rather than permanent?  Would they view that as a slight?  I'm not sure, although I hope not.

I think, if anything, this experience has opened our eyes quite a bit to the great experiences that can be had, despite not being able to walk.  Lukas has even commented a couple of times that he doesn't mind being in the chair very much.  That he can actually still have a lot of fun while in it.  In large part, that is likely a product of his well adjusted outlook on life, but it is also a result of realizing that happiness is a combination of many, many factors.

Of course, don't get me wrong, we will all be thrilled once the wheelchair is no longer needed.

But until then, we will all be happy to field questions from anyone reading his sign.  After all, it's not just an explanation, it's an invitation to interact.  Something we all thrive on.

Especially our very social boy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Channeling Her Inner Herve

Cleared for taking off....

Annabelle is now 2 1/2 and what I can only describe as a force of nature.

A super cute force of nature, but definitely a force of nature.  She always likes to do things her way, and without help.  That will serve her well someday.  Now, at 2, it makes things 'interesting'. And, even though she can be 'strong willed' at times, I love every ounce of her.

In addition to being strong willed, she also laughs, hugs, and does tons of silly things.  But most of all she is very loving towards Mrs. LIAFY and I, and her brother too.

....Yeah, she loves her brootheeeer, and America too....

Sorry, I just had a Tom Petty moment.  But back to the post at hand, another thing Annabelle really loves right now is airplanes.  All kinds of airplanes.

Yep, she gets super excited anytime she sees an airplane, calling out loudly and pointing to it to make sure we see it too.

"DA PLANE, DA PLANE!!" she will call out, as if she were channelling Herve Villechaize aka Tatoo from the 70's/80's television classic 'Fantasy Island'.  I guess that would make me her Host, Mr. Rorke.

Although, reality check, if this were really an episode of Fantasy Island and I ran the place, you'd think I wouldn't have to change any diapers, would you?

Okay, although I am definitely not living an episode of Fantasy Island, I am enjoying that Annabelle is making leaps and bounds with her vocabulary recently.  It's fun that she can now verbalize clearly many things that she enjoys.

Like airplanes!

We had family movie night this past weekend, and since it has been difficult to get our sweet little thing to actually sit for some screen time (I know, rough problem to have) we decided to rent a movie that might pique her interest.  Like 'Planes', the Disney movie that is basically 'Cars' with wings.

Unfortunately, as much as she likes airplanes, her reaction to sitting still and watching them on a screen for an hour and a half was pretty much "Meh"(even when Dusty Crophopper was Free, Free Fallin!), except, of course, when there was a PINK! plane (supporting cast) - which I guess is all right, even if the result is that I don't get to sit through the whole movie either.

Once, during a moment of distraction from Planes, I noticed that she had gotten some stamps from daycare earlier.  "Those are pretty stamps Annabelle" I let her know.  It was at that point that she corrected me.

"Dadoo, Daddy.  Dadoo"

Apparently, she thought this was some permanent ink.

Or else she was once again channeling her inner Herve.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Break a Leg

Lukas, with 'Dan' one of only 7 Lego
Master Builders in the USA!

I know, I know.  Let's just dispense with the obligatory "It's been so long since my last post....blah, blah, blah"  garbage and get right into the meat, or should I say 'meat and bone' of this mini blog-resurrection post.  Nope, this blog is not dead.

Lukas, who is now 8 years old, is smack in the middle of spending his entire summer break in a wheelchair.  Okay, to be perfectly accurate, he is not spending the ENTIRE summer in a wheelchair.  There are times when he sleeps, and we are not lifting the pediatric sized chair onto his bed and covering him up with a blanket.   That would just be odd, right? He is also now using a walker and also crab walking around with one leg propped in the air.

All this is because just three days after school got out back in June, Lukas had a freak accident with his skateboard and ended up with a spiral fracture of his right femur.  Yes, it was traumatic.  Very much so.  He was wearing his protective gear and being safe, but alas it still happened.  (Something, something....bubble wrap.)

He was actually taken by ambulance to Seattle Harborview hospital, our regional trauma center for a not so fun filled evening in the ER (lots of 'colorful' people there on a Saturday night!), before being admitted and scheduled for to have metal plate and 8 screws installed in his leg the next morning.  That was Father's Day.

As fun as all this sounds, I would recommend (and Lukas would surely agree) never having this done on yourself, or any of your children.  Especially not your first born.

We are now 6 weeks into the process, and I have to say I am extremely impressed with my son.  You can imagine how you would feel about spending the summer of your 8th year confined to a wheelchair.  Well, Lukas has been extremely positive throughout the process. continuing to be a happy and loving brother to his 2 year old sister.  Once he even, in all earnestness said "It could have been worse, Dad.  I could have lost my legs for good."

That one blew me away.  I really love this boy.

For our part, Mrs. LIAYF and I have done our best to not only keep him from bearing weight on his leg until he is cleared (we certainly don't want him to re-injure it after all he has been through), but we have also done our very best to give him as normal a Summer as we can. That includes arranging for friends to come visit, keeping him involved in projects and reading (a LOT), visits to local attractions when possible, and once he was cleared a visit to a local water splash park where he was more than thrilled to roll his chair through the spray on a very hot day, and get thoroughly soaked.

Those smiles were incredibly heartwarming after all the trauma.

We also took him to an MLS game last week to see our Seattle Sounders in action.  He was signed up for a Sounders soccer camp - we cancelled that but kept the game tickets.  Just a note: ADA seating provides amazing views in Century Link field, also home to the Seahawks!

All in all, the Summer has been good, considering Lukas' plight.  Mrs. LIAYF and I have spent a lot of time with him, using FMLA, since we have no other options for his care, and we have all enjoyed our extra time with those we love the most.

We are far from done yet though.  Once school does start, and he is cleared to bear weight, it will be incrementally more each week.  That means more time in the chair, at school.  Plus Lukas will not be able to partake in recess activities for at least 3 months, and will have the plate removed in another surgery around Christmas time.

Wish us all luck.  Although luck would be nice, we will most likely be getting by on determination, lots of love, and enjoying life for the wonderful moments it gives us.

Even in adversity.