Teens & Money: Who Pays for College?

accounting-calculator-and-planner-90371-m-www.whitespark.ca_College expenses are rising every year and both students and parents alike wonder how they’ll afford a college education. If you have the finances to pay for your child’s entire college expenses, please reconsider.

When Parents Pay

As a college professor I’ve witnessed the results of parents paying for their kid’s entire expenses. These students are less responsible for their education because they have no vested interest. I hear students flippantly comment, “So what if lost my textbook. Too bad I failed that class. I can just take it again. My parents will pay for…”.

Your Student’s Share

Consider allowing your student to pay for certain expenses, such as their clothing, entertainment, car payments and insurance, textbooks, course materials, or even several of these categories. It will pay off in dividends. They will become more conscientious students which ultimately results in less overall expenses. When students are vested in their education, they’re more likely to attain their goals in a timely manner.

College and Car Insurance

If your son or daughter is attending college so their car insurance is covered under your policy, within six weeks, most of them won’t be attending classes. When I meet students each semester I share, “Your parents’ car insurance won’t motivate you to arrive twice a week for an 8:00 A.M. class. You must have your own personal reasons for obtaining a college education or you’ll drop out.”

College Drop Outs

Unfortunately many young people drop out of college. A new study by Harvard University reports that, “Only 56 percent of the students who enter America’s colleges and universities graduate within six years, while only 29 percent of students who enter two-year programs complete their degrees within three years, the study found.”1

Expectations

Raising financially responsible young people is possible, but requires advanced planning. In order to train your son or daughter, you need to know what your financial expectations are for your family. Then together with your young person, you can create a financial plan that works for everyone.

Source:

1. Study: Nearly Half Of America’s College Students Drop Out Before Receiving A Degree, Travis Waldron on Mar 28, 2012, thinkprogress.org/education/2012/03. Accessed 6/10/2013.

Book Review: Slouching Towards Adulthood

Slouching Toward Adulthoodby Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
As I’m researching for my book series, From Diapers to Diamonds: Raising Responsible Adults, I discover a book that raises many of the issues I’m answering in this parenting series.
“Adultescents” 
Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest written by Sally Koslow documents why a generation of carefully nurtured young adults is delaying adulthood. Though she offers no solutions except during a brief last chapter, she simply reports what she discovered from research and interviewing parents and what she calls “adultescents” during 2010 and 2011.
The Book
This thirteen chapter book provides a picture of college graduates returning home and living with their parents another decade or so. In the first chapter, A Public Display of Reflection, she explains how she learned that “twenty-eight is the new nineteen,” and included a new decade, the “odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood,” (p. 11) and she panicked. This information triggered the impetus for her book.
Great Book
I found this book so engaging. It’s flagged with countless post it notes and comments written throughout the book. She examines young adults’ relationships to work or not to work, money, and their social lives. In chapter three: Choose Your Own Adventure, she addresses the challenges with decision making. “Forget Plan B. There isn’t a Plan A,” (p. 24).
No Place Like Home
This entitled generation comes home after college because “…there’s nowhere else they could live better,” (p. 68). Two of my favorite chapters include chapter five: The U-Haul as Umbilical Cord and chapter six: Adultesents Without Borders. If your children have returned home or you hope they don’t return home, read this book. It gives a solid picture of what’s going on with the current generation of “adultescents.”
Book Information
Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest, Sally Koslow, Viking Penguin Group, 2012. Available at Penguin.com. Hardcover $25.95; paperback $16.00; eBook $9.99. 2013 paperback with a new introduction.

Teens & Money: To Work or Not to Work?

online-jobs-concept-1417325-mDr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Maybe you’ve asked yourself, should my teenager get a job? If and when your teenager gets a job is a controversial decision.

Many parents don’t want their young person to work and focus only on school. Others expect their teens to work and contribute to the family’s income. This has become more of a reality for many families due to the economy.

Benefits of Working

A young person working has many benefits. First, they become more financially responsible when it comes to spending “their” money. They can purchase things that are beyond the family budget, such as a car or a stereo system. Second, they can save for long-term expenses, such as college or a down payment on a car. Third, they learn how to set priorities, and manage both their money and time more effectively.

Number of Hours

A longitudinal study showed that the number of hours 10th grade and 12th grade high school students work is correlated to their grade point averages. “The determining factors seem to be the number of hours worked during a week. Students who work less than 13 hours a week in the 10th grade and less than 11 hours a week in the 12th grade perform better than students who do not work but once students exceed the number of hours per week there is a significant drop in their GPA’s compared to non-working students.” 1

Work Experience

Teens also gain valuable work experience especially if they can find work related to their interests. Many colleges ask applicants to list work experience or volunteering related to the school they’re applying to. For example, if your child wants to become a veterinarian, help them locate work with animals. If they’re headed towards a medical career, find work in a doctor’s office or hospital.

Hidden Costs

There’s a hidden cost of your son or daughter not liking their future career upon graduation. It is cost effective to insure your kids like the field they are studying. I can’t tell you how many teachers I know who earned a teaching credential, only to find out within five years of employment, they don’t really like kids. What if they found that out in advance by working in your city’s recreation department or in a children’s Sunday School class? Getting a job after a college degree and finding out they don’t like this work is extremely expensive not only financially, but in time and energy as well.

After Graduation

A final benefit of teens working is that they gain work experiences that will assist them upon college graduation. Since there’s so much competition for jobs amongst college graduates, related work experience and volunteering adds to their potential employability. Yes, there are a few disadvantages of teens working, but what they gain towards becoming a responsible adult far outweighs the cons.

Source:

  1. Quirk, Kimberly J., Timothy Z. Keith, and Jeffery T. Quirk. “Employment During High School and Student Achievement: Longitudinal Analysis of National Data.” Journal of Educational Research, 95 (2001).

Book Review: All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013All Grown Up...

As I research for my book series, From Diapers to Diamonds: Raising Responsible Adults, I discover a book that raises many of the issues I’m answering in this parenting series. Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest written by Sally Koslow documents why a generation of carefully nurtured young adults is delaying adulthood.

“Adultescents”

Though she offers no solutions except during a brief last chapter, she simply reports what she discovered from research and interviewing parents and what she calls “adultescents” during 2010 and 2011.

“Twenty-eight is the new nineteen”

This thirteen chapter book provides a picture of college graduates returning home and living with their parents another decade or so. In the first chapter, A Public Display of Reflection, she explains how she learned that “twenty-eight is the new nineteen,” and included a new decade, the “odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood,” (p. 11) and she panicked. This information triggered the impetus for her book.

Engaging

I found this book so engaging. It’s flagged with countless post it notes and comments written throughout the book. She examines young adults’ relationships to work or not to work, money, and their social lives. In chapter three: Choose Your Own Adventure, she addresses the challenges with decision making. “Forget Plan B. There isn’t a Plan A,” (p. 24).

There’s No Place Like Home

This entitled generation comes home after college because “…there’s nowhere else they could live better,” (p. 68). Two of my favorite chapters include chapter five: The U-Haul as Umbilical Cord and chapter six: Adultesents Without Borders. If your children have returned home or you hope they don’t return home, read this book. It gives a solid picture of what’s going on with the current generation of “adultescents.”

Book Information

Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest, Sally Koslow, Viking Penguin Group, 2012. Available at Penguin.com. Hardcover $25.95; paperback $16.00; eBook $9.99. Paperback, 2013 with a new introduction.

Save, Share, Spend & Other Money Matters

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013green-piggy-bank-isolated-546207-s

“Can I get a candy bar?”

“Can I have some money to buy a hot dog at the baseball snack shack?”

“Can you buy me …..?”

Things Cost Money

Do you recognize these pleas for spending your money? In thinking about what money skills young people will need to live independently, the school age years are ideal for teaching about money management.

At an early age, children learn that things they want cost money. They know what dollar bills in a birthday card are for. In elementary school, usually during second grade, children learn the different types of money and how to make change. Some children spend their money immediately, while others save it for something they really want.

Share, Save, Spend

To encourage money management, saving, and giving, we gave each child three baby food jars marked with the words Share, Save, and Spend. Our daughters received a small allowance every Friday that they could spend on whatever they wanted after they put a dime for each dollar in the save jar, and a dime for each dollar in the share jar.

Ways to Share

As church attendees we wanted our daughters to learn about sharing with others. Sometimes they gave their “Share” money during a Sunday school class or to a special project, like the Angel Tree project for Christmas gifts for children with incarcerated parents.

Vacation Money

Another way we taught our girls about money was on family vacations. We provided meals for them, but we gave them a specific amount of money in an envelope for each day. The money was to cover the cost of snacks and souvenirs. This truly saved us money instead of paying for a snack, then another snack, then a souvenir, then another souvenir, etc.

Sometimes they saved up several days to buy something they really wanted. We also discovered that there were happier to eat snacks we’d brought along instead of using “their money” to buy snacks.

Modeling Money Choices

Most importantly, money management needs to be modeled by you. If you want your children to save and share with others, they need to see you doing likewise. If you want them spending money responsibly on vacation, let them watch you doing the same. With money matters, much is “caught.” Let your children catch you being a wise steward of the finances entrusted to you.

 

 

Laundry or Writing?

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
“What keeps you from writing?” questions keynote speaker, during a writers conference in late March.
“The Laundry,” one mother replies.
The laundry? How old are your kids? I wonder.
The speaker wonders the same. “How old are your kids?” he probes.
“Four teenagers and one husband,” she boasts.
I hear the audience’s collective surprise. I haven’t done my kids’ laundry since they turned 13. Are you still doing your teenagers laundry? Is there something you do for your kids that they could do themselves? Is there something else you’d rather do with your time?
Milestones
My husband and I were committed to training our daughters to live independently and possess necessary life skills by the time they graduated from high school. Laundry falls into this category. We wanted milestones our children could experience in tangible ways affirming that they were growing up. Getting older requires more responsibilities, but it also comes with more privileges.
Privileges & Responsibilities
Starting at age ten, we negotiated with them both a privilege and a responsibility. Some years they chose the same privilege and responsibility while other years they differed. Each year they also went to bed 15 minutes later. For example, when they turned ten, they went to bed at 8:15 PM. The privilege they chose was getting their ears pierced. The responsibility was making family dinner one night a week.
Dinner Duty
“Make dinner one night a week?” a parent whines. “My kids can barely use the microwave.”
Yes, make dinner every week. They can do this because I started training our girls in the kitchen before they were two years old. Pictures attest to pouring with measuring cups, cracking eggs, using a hand mixer, and spooning cookie batter onto a baking sheet. Of course they made a mess. But they also enjoyed eating foods they helped prepare while learning math skills and nutrition. By age ten, they were ready. We had our fair share of burritos, spaghetti, and hot dog casserole. As they got older, they began trying more complex family recipes and finding recipes on their own.
Gender Issues
I know what you’re thinking. Your children are girls. You didn’t raise boys. It’s true, but we would have made the same requirements if we had had sons. They need the same skills for living independently as girls do. Serving as a male role model, my husband also began cooking dinner one night a week. Well, at least that’s what he called bringing home take-out food for some of his “cooking” nights.
Finally, A Driver’s License
But my favorite privilege and responsibility arrived with my daughters’ sweet sixteen birthday celebrations. Since my oldest daughter was eight, I’d been counting how many more years until she’d drive. Driving a car comes with a multitude of privileges, otherwise known as freedom, but also a multitude of responsibilities, otherwise known as DMV laws.
New Freedom for All
This new freedom wasn’t only for our daughters, but freedom for us as parents. Freedom from taking them everywhere they needed to go. The privilege: our car to drive as long as they maintained a 3.0 GPA. The responsibility: creating a family menu every two weeks and grocery shopping on a budget. We didn’t plan a menu and do major grocery shopping for over four years until our youngest moved out. What could you do with all that extra time?
Back to the Laundry
I just got so excited about the privileges and responsibilities that I forgot about the laundry challenges. I know. You’re concerned your teenagers will ruin their clothes. Most likely they won’t for two reasons. One, you’ve spent years training them; and two, they have a clothing budget that started at age twelve. They might ruin clothes YOU bought them, but its less likely they’ll ruin the ones they budgeted for and purchased. They know exactly how much each item costs and what it will cost to replace it. I’ll address more on that topic when I write more on “Money Matters.”
Laundry or ….?
So what would you rather do with your time?  Laundry or … ? I’d rather write. And since I don’t do my own laundry until Friday, today I’ll write.

Changing Christmas Traditions, Part 2

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D., © 2012

The other day at the mall, before I retreated towards the ladies bathroom for a pity party, my thirteen-year-old son and twelve-year-old daughter insisted on changing some Christmas traditions. It was quite a shock. They both know how important holiday celebrations are in this family.

I’ve been pondering and I think I’ve got it. The kids, I guess they’re not kids, but I can’t quite say it, very young adolescents, already gave up sitting on Santa’s lap. We’re not celebrating Happy Birthday Jesus parties anymore. I can’t snap photos in front of the tree on Christmas morning in their pajamas just before opening stockings from Santa.

I noticed that they left “stockings from Santa” on the list. Since they don’t believe in Santa anymore, maybe I’ll remove that one myself. “No stockings from Santa” – delete. “That felt good,” I claim.

Since I promised I’d listen to my kid’s input, listed below are child-friendly Christmas traditions we’ve celebrated and how we’ve adapted them for adolescent-friendly traditions. Change is really difficult for me because I love all our family traditions.

So why am I going to all this trouble? It’s simple. I want my adolescents to hold onto our Christian beliefs, and learn that how we practice our traditions can be modified. These new age-appropriate traditions can assist them in expressing that Christ is Lord of their life. How could a mother refuse?

Family Traditions
Child-Friendly Traditions
Adolescent-Friendly Traditions
Happy Birthday
Jesus Party

happy-birthday-599394-2

Happy Birthday Jesus Birthday invitations are handmade or computer generated by children. Neighborhood children are asked to donate canned food “gifts” for the Angel Tree Project (families with incarcerated parent). During the party, read the Christmas story from the most age-appropriate book, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, serve birthday cake, and play fun Christmas games.
Our early adolescents enjoy going door-to-door in the neighborhood collecting canned food as we tag along. They quickly discover they obtain more food than at the party. Bring along several double-bagged grocery bags. Finally, we deliver the groceries to our churches’ Angel Tree Project. Note: Teens must be willing to articulate who food is for, i.e.: gospel mission, needy families, Angel Tree Project, etc.
 
New Christmas Ornaments

Christmas-series-1-1109001-s

“Where did the years go?”
Beginning when each baby is born, purchase an ornament that is representative of the year. As ornaments are added, create a list for each child with the year, ornament, and who it’s from. Store each child’s ornaments in separate boxes. As children decorate the tree with their own ornaments, you can hear them recall, “Oh, I remember this one. That’s the year I visited Grandmother in Kansas.” These ornaments become family heirlooms when they move away, so buy yourself a new ornament or two every year or your tree will be empty along with your empty nest.
As your children get older, they can select their own special ornament. They’ll have more life events to choose from, so help them recall some highlights. Some ideas include: 6th grade camp, babysitting, awards, sports teams, vacations, missions trip, or getting a driver’s license. With the increasing price of ornaments, you may need to create a budget. Some adolescents can spend months hunting for the ideal ornament, especially with Christmas decorations displayed in July.
Christmas Cards & Letters
Christmas-traditional-1116313-s

 

Some years we send a Christmas card, photo, and/or family letter that recounts God’s blessings and highlights each family member. When purchasing cards, try selecting religious cards or cards from an organization you support.
Let your adolescents choose their own photo(s) for the card. Save time and ask them to create the family card. To avoid adolescent embarrassment, invite them to write their own section for the family’s letter. Give them a word count and due date.
The Hallmark
Christmas Tree

Christmas-tree-1435295-13-s

My mother let us decorate our tree, but later she’d move the ornaments where she wanted them. She didn’t think we noticed, but we did. Decide early on what’s more important: the perfect tree or time together creating happy memories. If you treasure your “Hallmark” tree, provide a small tree for the children to decorate.
“What do you mean you don’t want to get the Christmas tree this year?” Oh yeah, my adolescents want to include their friends. Encourage your kids to invite a friend or two to traipse along with the family. After choosing the perfect tree, let the young people decorate it, lights and all. Hang around while serving hot chocolate & treats. No, it won’t be your Hallmark tree; it may be more interesting and definitely more memorable.
Photos with Santa & Gift for Needy Child

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Note: If your family does not include Santa in your celebrations, follow the gift-giving part.

Dressed in new Christmas outfits, take pictures with Santa at the mall. Next, choose a child’s name tag from the Soroptimist’s Community Christmas tree for a needy child or teen. Use the money saved from recycling cans for purchasing the gift. Then children scour the mall for the best present. Finally, proudly return the perfect donation to the tree for wrapping.
Let your adolescents choose someone or an organization to help at Christmas. Maybe they know a family who needs food, a bed with a mattress, Christmas tree & decorations, or gifts for their children. Maybe they’d rather choose an organization their passionate about helping. They can still use the money from recycling. If the budget comes up short, planning how to earn the money or collecting donations becomes part of the project.
Coats for Kids
snowball-927190-s
As children outgrow their coats each year, we donate them to Coats for Kids. Many different organizations sponsor this type o event such as firefighters or local news channels. Coats are typically distributed in January.
Adolescents can donate their outgrown coats and outerwear too. Additionally, they can collect coats from friends or youth groups to donate.
Sharing Clothes, Toys, Household Items
dvd-and-cd-887343-s

 

In anticipation of new clothes and toys for Christmas, supervise children cleaning out their closets, dressers, and toy boxes. Select items they no longer use or  fit. These items are shared with a younger sibling or given to someone else. Children can go through their belongings after Christmas during their school break. Since children learn from role modeling, this is a perfect time for parents to choose items to donate as well.
You’ll notice that adolescents go through growth spurts just like when they were younger. Some years they’ll have more to share than other years. They could donate video games, DVDs, and CDs. Let your adolescents choose the recipients. Our daughters know younger girls who love getting a “new to me” wardrobe and new games. The items might be donated to a family who’s recently experienced a disaster, such as a fire.
Live Nativity and
The Journey to Bethlehem

crèche-57532-s

 
 
 
 
Young children learn best through experiences. The story of Jesus’ birth is no exception. Find a church that performs an outdoor live nativity. As children get older, find one that also offers a short narration. Bundling up in warm clothes with hot chocolate makes this a treasured memory and valuable way for learning the true Christmas story.
Adolescents can tire of the live nativity and may find more joy in bothering the animals. Perhaps they can become a live nativity performer or handle the manger animals. Many communities offer a more in-depth experience during The Journey to Bethlehem. Stops along the journey tell the story in an engaging manner. Encourage adolescents to invite friends so they’ll visit during the long wait in lines. The lines and later evening times make this experience better suited for adolescents. Check your local newspapers or online early in the season for dates and times.
Christmas Morning Pics

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What’s a better memory than photos of little ones dressed in pajamas sitting before the lighted Christmas tree? Some years the siblings wear matching pajamas. Such sweet recollections of adorable children make this tradition harder to give up.
Take “Christmas” photos when adolescents are “dressed up” for a school event, like a winter formal, music or dance performance. Snap photos in front of the tree with their friends. They’ll enjoy creating different poses and groupings. Let them use your camera.
Christmas Services
or Mass

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Many churches offer Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services or masses at various times that work well for families with young children. As children get older, perhaps an evening service may work. If your church doesn’t offer a service, locate one near you that does. Christmas services are usually advertised in the local newspaper or check online.
Many adolescents are weary of attending the same “old” Christmas service. Invite them to choose this year’s Christmas service for your family. Maybe they know a friend who’s in a Christmas program in another church. Perhaps they’d prefer attending midnight mass or a late service. If there are young children who can’t stay up late, allow your adolescent to attend with friends’ families. Mom and Dad, you can stay up extra late tonight!
 
Change is difficult especially when connected to emotionally-laden long-standing traditions. Begin making changes slowly as your children enter early adolescence and adolescence. Share this article with them. Ask them to choose one or two traditions. Maybe these thoughts will generate ideas for adapting your specific celebrations. Oh, and by the way, I decided to keep the Christmas stockings on the list as MY tradition. Undelete.
Images from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/  Accessed 4/19/2014.


Changing Christmas Traditions, Part 1

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2012


“But we’ve always snapped photos in front of the tree on Christmas morning in your P.J.s. Remember, just before we christmas-tree-3-1409681-s1 open our stockings from Santa. You do want your stockings, right?” My guilt trips aren’t working, not even on the first day of advent. I pour it on. “You have limited Christmases at home before you graduate. You’ll be sorry some day that you didn’t let me buy you Christmas P.J.s,” I sniffle with a single tear rolling down my cheek.

“Mom, get a grip. We were in grade school when we wore Christmas pajamas. Need I remind you, I don’t wear pajamas anymore?”

Cringing at the thought of my thirteen-year-old son in, well…. I can’t go there. Why won’t they cooperate like when they were younger? “You know how important Christmas traditions are to this family.” Another sniffle and a second tear for affect.

“I’m too old for cutesy reindeer pajamas,” adds my twelve-year-old daughter. “Plus, I don’t let anyone take pictures unless my hair is done. And it better be a good hair day.”

“Just for this year,” I beg to no avail.

I’m about to run towards the mall bathroom for a pity party where surely there are other mothers of adolescents when my son admonishes me. “Lighten up, Mom. It’s not that we don’t like celebrating traditions. It’s just that we’re almost adults. Remember, we convinced you a few years ago we were too old for photos on Santa’s lap?”

I painfully recall that year. “It was hard, but I survived…somehow.”

“Mama, we loved all the traditions when we were younger. We don’t want to give them up, just adapt them so we’re not embarrassed,” my daughter adds. “Oh, and we want to include our friends just like we do the rest of the year.”

I’ve already been forced to give up some traditions. Now they want to change traditions, AND include other hormone-laced adolescents? What will it be next? The two of them insisting on an artificial tree to help save the environment?

Disturbed by these new fangled notions, I consider my options.

I can force them to celebrate and they’ll resent me and the reason we celebrate Christmas, to wish Jesus a Happy Birthday! Oh, I remember the Jesus Birthday parties we celebrated. The neighborhood kids brought canned food for the Angel Tree Project, listened to the Christmas story, and played fun holiday games. We already gave that up.

“Lord, why is changing Christmas traditions so hard for me? I’m letting them grow-up in other areas.”

The answer arrives in my own question. The meaning of traditions: handing down beliefs and customs, from generation to generation, especially by practice. It isn’t so much the specific way we express the traditions, but our beliefs behind the traditions.

I recount Luke 2:11: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (NIV). Then it dawns on me. Maybe it’s past time my kids learn the deeper meaning of Christmas and get involved serving others.


Looking at my two children, I mean, adolescents, I begin, “Never mind new pajamas. You’re not kids anymore. You’ve reminded me how important keeping our beliefs are, but how we practice our traditions can be modified. You’re becoming young adults who need to adapt expressing traditions that help you demonstrate that Christ is Lord of your life. You can tell me all about your ideas on the way home.”

P.S. Stay tuned for Part 2

“Are You There?” Hope Street: My Journey

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

“This will be good news,” I hope, answering the long-awaited call. It’s the nurse from the clouds-and-blue-sky-1387467-sneurologist’s office. “The doctor has reviewed all your records. He’s referring you to Stanford Neurology,” she reports.

Stanford. Five years ago. My mind flashes back automatically to grand mal seizures that started at, of all places, McDonalds in East Palo Alto. Aren’t they supposed to serve Happy Meals there? Next, the terrifying ambulance ride to Stanford Hospital’s Emergency Room. Between seizures I weakly plead, “Can you make them stop?”
Nurse. The nurse interrupts my thoughts. “Ma’am,… Ma’am, are you there?”
“Yes…, I’m here,” I hesitantly reply while silently questioning, “God, are You there?”
I’m physically on the phone, but  my mind’s recalling my body seizing over and over again for three more hours on a narrow hospital bed shoved somewhere along the ER’s neglected hallway. I softly implore, “Why can’t they make them stop?” My husband shakes his head while gently holding my hand. Then my body forcefully thrashes again.
Questions? The nurse rattles off more information jolting me to the present. “Do you have any questions?” she finally concludes. “No, …No questions,” I whisper.
I hit end on my cell phone. Did I really just say, “No questions?” Yeah, I’ve got questions, but not for the nurse. “God, are you serious? Stanford? I can’t go back there. Do You remember how traumatic it was?”
Prayer. Recently I prayed, “Should I continue pursuing medical options or accept the reality of my brain impairment?”
You answer, “Stanford Epilepsy AND their Sleep Center?”
Returning to Stanford is the last place I’d choose for medical treatment. Maybe I should’ve made more specific requests, like, “Should I continue homeopathy treatments? What about acupuncture? Continue supplements? But Stanford?” Last time I was dismissed like a crazy woman voluntarily producing seizures.
Make Seizures Stop. I can’t force that horrendous day from my thoughts. Then the radiology tech inquires, “Can you make the seizures stop long enough for a CT scan?”
Can I make them stop? For hours my voice begs anyone who vaguely looks associated with a hospital, “Please, please stop my seizures.”  Shaking my head No, “I can’t make them stop,” I mutter.
Relief. Finally, a kind soul pushes medicine through my I.V. The seizures stop within seconds. My body is quiet and still, almost lifeless. As my body begins relaxing, calmness returns. Someone directs, “Your C.T. scan is normal. Sign these papers and you can go home.”
Another Nurse. A second nurse’s voice draws me back during another phone call. “We’ve scheduled you to arrive at the Stanford Neurology & Epilepsy Center on October 15. You’ll be staying with us for up to a week,” she explains. “We’ll be monitoring your brain 24/7 and videotaping you. Do you have any questions?”
Questions? How many can I list? The questions I asked God over five years ago are still unanswered. Sometimes I wonder, “Are you there, God?” But the question I asked Him a few months ago is now answered. Not in a way I expected nor desired. Today He answers in a clear, calm, reassuring voice. “I’m here. I’m sending you to Stanford.”