October 6, 2018: the Day Three of my Children Could Have Died

I have tried to write in my blog since October, yet no courage could I find. Since January, I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. I noticed that as soon as my second child, Sophia, went back to school after her injury on October 6, 2018, I lost it emotionally. Post Traumatic Stress found me, and I cannot seem to write and to suffer PTSD at the same time. However, today, the day before Spring Break for my colleagues and my students, I promised myself that our family has a story to tell. I swore  that I will attempt to tell it. Regardless of how it feels to process it, I must think about that day and recount the tragedy and the terror.

Sophia often takes risks, and she then has to face the consequences. She has abused privileges and acted out in anger, which led to her being grounded for several months prior to October 6th. Finally, the weekend of our Fall Break, her restriction time had ended, and I allowed her to have a friend over for the weekend. It was also the annual weekend of my husband’s family reunion. That Saturday was an ALL day reunion excursion. However, I found myself with a very cranky and loud two-year-old, and I was determined for him to nap before that evening’s auction and dinner. So, I took Bailey, Liam, Angel, Alley, and Sophia home with the intention of returning later.

After returning home, it became apparent that Liam would not nap, so Chris fueled up our Polaris Ranger for the children to ride in the yard while we helped the movers deliver our oven that we ordered. In less than fifteen minutes, Sophia disobeyed us, switched drivers, and left the yard with the Ranger. What happened next would change us all forever. My sister-in-law texted me to get to the end of our dirt road. My babies were all in the road beside the Ranger that was lying on its side. All looked at us except Sophia. She stuck her leg out as it tipped over. Her tibia and fibula were snapped like twigs and were forced through her skin. She was screaming, “MAMA” at a ear piercing levels, and I quickly ran to her. I wanted to know why she left the yard. I wanted to know why she wasn’t driving. I tried so hard to calm her, yet how does one do that exactly?

First responders came. EMTs came. Ambulances came. Helicopters came.

Angel and Sophia were airlifted to the medical center in Macon. I had to tell one of my former students that her child was injured while under my supervision. We never made it back to the reunion. Family members took Liam, Bailey, and Alley back to enjoy the festivities, yet I know they must have felt shock and fear.  Sophia and Angel’s health and recovery were my new objectives. I knew surgery was coming, but I did not grasp the length of recovery. Angel and Sophia spent the first night in the Pediatric Unit at The Medical Center. We parents waited and prayed. Sophia would stay three days; Angel went home after a day.

She received a rod and four pins. The wound even now five months later has not completely healed. I can still see a layer of adipose tissue. It still bleeds. She limps.

sophia's leg
One week post-op

Chris still takes her to see the surgeon each month, and we measure the wound’s progress. The necrotic tissue did fall off. So, she has had to heal and regrow the tissue from inside the wound. Sophia has suffered the most from emotional trauma and guilt from her poor decisions that lead to the accident. Her doctors continue to change medications to help ease her PTSD, and she receives psychotherapy when needed. We talk about her nightmares each morning on our way to school. She returned to school in January and looks almost normal in a group of her peers.

I hope she has learned from this experience. There are many lessons to take away. I am a better person and mother since this experience. I don’t take anything for granted. Chris and I increased our bond over it, and our relationship is stronger. The emotional trauma may not get better for awhile. There were three different families represented in that Ranger accident. I am so grateful and humbled that we all have our children at home to love. Sophia’s military career ended that day; however, I never believed she would have gone into the military anyway.

Unbeknownst to us that Monday in October, Sophia dealt with recovery, and  Hurricane Michael was headed straight for us from the Gulf. His wrath will be my next topic of adventure!


Sexting: a Teen’s Rite of Passage

A Serious Dilemma

Jennifer Greene Sullivan

As a parent, you want to protect your child. When she was a babe that toddled, you chased after her and soothed bumps and bruises. Then, you stopped long enough to breathe through parenthood, and now she looks like a grown woman. Yet, she has the brain development of a thirteen year old. You are left to ponder where all the time has gone. Certainly, you believe that you’ve won the hard fight as a parent, yet eighth grade introduces more than physical science and equations to these fledgling adults.

This past Christmas of her eighth grade year, she received a cell phone from her dad as a gift. You suggested that he wait because she is not mature enough for an electronic device. Unfortunately, you could not possibly imagine the issues that would arise in the future. Six months come and go, you trust that her dad monitors her online activity, texting habits, and social media presence. It will be the monitoring of her social media accounts that leads to finding inappropriate Instagram messages on her phone. EXTREMELY inappropriate.

Your precious, yet not so innocent, thirteen year old has been sexting on Instagram. You are shocked. You are devastated. You are disgusted. How do you handle this? How did this happen? What is going on with the world? You’re the kind of mom that researches. You’re the kind of mom that cares and cries and rants. You find in your researched rantings that sextings is a teenage PROBLEM.

You learn that 80 percent of teens send sexts to others before the age of 18 (Sexting Facts and Statistics). You read this quote, and your eyes BULGE:

 “According to research, those teens who are sexting or propositioned to send a sext are more likely than their peers to have sexual intercourse” (Sexting Facts and Statistics).

You read the statement again, and you realize the problem of sexting bleeds over to other concerns. Teen pregnancy in the US may have decreased in the last few years, yet the risky behavior of teenage sexting has increased. Why would they want to do this? Are they pressured? Are they lonely? Are they seeking attention and acceptance? You recognize that these reasons are probably all true. These reasons lead to messages and photos that make teens vulnerable to strangers. Leaked photographs could remain available online indefinitely.

You throw the reasons and the why’s and the how’s in the garbage. Fix the problem. Concentrate. You’re the parent.

But how?




Post-script: I just discovered that even Anne Frank wrote about sex in her diary and  obscured the naughty words with brown paper glued to the pages. Thirteen year olds may have more experience writing about sex than I first thought

Hanging on…

5:45 am

I wake up Anya to help with Liam because he’s awake, holding his milk and watching Shrek. The day begins early in the Sullivan household. Chris and Bailey struggle to remain asleep because Liam, Anya, Sophia and I tend to be loud dressers. Regardless of circumstances, I remain hopeful to arrive alive!!

6:35 am 

Liam screams, “BYE!!” He waves. Bailey farts on me and hits me on the rear. Sophia and I drive to WCHS.

8:05 am 

I call Anya from school to make sure she left on time. She answers. She hasn’t left the house. WCHS is 50 miles away from home. Needless to say, I am not happy. I go to see her Work Based Learning Coordinator to sign my parental forms. She hasn’t signed any of hers. Why? She is still at home.

9:05 am 

Anya pulls into the parking lot and sits while putting on mascara. I listen as two of my colleagues mention that at the end of the year kids will be kids. I open her vehicle door. She slowly exits and strolls into the gym for graduation practice. I take her keys. I remind myself: she’s a kid. Of course, she is.

10:15 am

My good friend (bless her heart) comes to see me in my classroom with a sticky note.

sticky note

The sticky note reveals Anya’s history grade in college: 64. She failed to turn in four assignments; she attends class each day. I wonder what she does. It takes me several minutes to locate her at Field Day festivities to have her complete her assignments. Her professor will allow an hour and a half to submit the work.  What in the Jehosaphat!!??


10:45 am 

Anya reluctantly sits at a desk inside my classroom. I see her read and randomly peck at the chromebook. Why doesn’t she ever panic at the shambles that is her academic life? Why the nonchalant attitude? Why the serious APATHY?

aside 1

11:15 am 

Sophia pops her head around the doorframe of my classroom. “Hey, Mom.”

“Hey, Sophia.” She leaves. Other kids come in and out. I hit my inhaler because my chest is TIGHT. I swear I want to take off my strand necklace and hurt myself. This is one of those days where motherhood bleeds over into the let’s not play this game anymore category.

12:35 pm

The ambiguity of the situation

I am often left pondering how Anya manages to manipulate situations for her own gain. At this time in the day, I am indifferent. I must count my blessings. Sophia walks the halls of WCMS. Liam certainly jabbers away at daycare, and Bailey eats her packed lunch at BCES. Anya plants her obstinate self somewhere in Room 300 at WCHS. All children are accounted for and physically well. Hold tight to small victories. My daddy once said, “Baby, raising teenagers takes a lot of love, patience, and energy.” Amen, Daddy, AMEN.