Posts by squishy binker tuna

Hi, I hope you like my blegh.

Where are the leaders?

Tonight I’m grateful my living children are sleeping safely. Today in the news, I watched a child get get pepper sprayed and an elderly man attacked. 

We’ve taught our boys to know police officers as helpers. The police in our town have been there for our family when we needed them. Not just a little bit. They were at the house in a blink when I called 911, one watched over us while it was happening, made sure the boys were safe, called our pastor, they all handled the situation with respect and grace. Later, an officer hand delivered a gift to our family from the police department. We talk about race, white privilege and our responsibility to speak up and use our privilege to create change, black history, … but not this, yet. 

Knowing that the police in my country will pepper spray a child, and attack an elderly man, let alone discriminate, harass, and hurt people of color, has me thinking of a new dialogue with my boys about the people who are there to protect us. How do I explain to my little boys that those events are happening here, not some far-away place we see on TV? How do I explain that the uniform doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good? That’s not right. Police officers are there to protect the people, not attack the people. I don’t have answers to these questions. I don’t know how to tell my boys any of this.

I’ve been posting on Facebook about cops on their knees. Now I see that brutality is overwhelming the peace. I try so hard, after all of my trauma and loss, to be positive–to listen to Mr. Rogers and look for the helpers. Today, the images of what looks like war, coming from all across my country, are spreading too fast and smothering anything positive. What I’m seeing is chaos. And pain. And confusion.

Black lives matter.

No justice, no peace.

Say His Name–George Floyd.

Say their names–which one?

Arresting a few cops does not bring justice.

Now, how is the policy change going to happen? How is the cultural change going to happen? How can we guarantee accountability? Where is the justice?

Where are our LEADERS?

My babies have been through enough. They’ve lost their brother, Covid-19 and quarantine added a new layer to our grief and trauma (which they’re handling like badass rock stars), and now the entire world is in even more turmoil. Of course, it’s justified turmoil. Overdue turmoil. Necessary turmoil. Painful, gutting turmoil. Righteous turmoil. If-you-thought-the-political-climate-revealed-character-you-should-see-what’s-happening-now turmoil.
But turmoil, nonetheless.

I’m feeling disheartened. And scared. And obligated to simultaneously protect my boys and educate them on what’s happening. We have a moral responsibility to stand on the side of justice.

But after all I’ve been through, after all we’ve been through as a family, we just want peace. Trauma survivors do not wish for more trauma.

The protesters are saying “by any means necessary”, and I get that… I mean, the best I can as a white person.

But, God help those cops if they EVER try to harm my beautiful children, no matter how old they are. George Floyd, a grown man, called for his Mama. As a mother who has lost a son, I can tell you that peace does NOT exist without justice. I don’t know if I’ll ever know peace until I’m with my boy again.

I truly hope that the protests around the world will put us on the path to justice for every mother who has lost a son to police brutality. I truly hope that the protests around the world will put us on the path to justice for racial inequality. I truly hope that from the protests around the world emerge true, worthy leaders for our country. I truly hope that we find this path during our lifetime, so that I can watch my living children grow up in a world of true equity.

And there I go, defaulting to that positivity.
That won’t bring change. Marching, protesting, persevering brings change.

Where are the leaders?

I can lead by starting in my home with my family, and take responsibility for learning the right ways to be an ally. I can lead with my voice. 

Maybe some are leading by attending rallies, and this inspires their neighbor to do the same.

How can you lead? 

Let’s do this now, because I can only imagine magnifying the pain of losing my son to suicide to equal the pain and grief black and brown people collectively and historically experience in this country. I’ve heard them say they’re tired. And I can tell you, as a grieving mother, they really are.

Hashtag nofilter

“I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.” –Vitruvius

Since Tuna died, the question “How are you?” has been hard to answer. I’ve considered answering with, “Never been worse. Living my worst nightmare, you?”
If you’re not sure how to answer the question “How are you doing?” when people check in with you during isolation, it’s totally normal for those going through grief and trauma.

My suggestion (since you asked) is to be honest. Don’t say you’re doing great when actually you can’t stand the sound of your cat eating for one second longer. Don’t say you’re fine when really you’re ready to douse the house in bleach because it smells like PEOPLE, your couch is developing permanent butt-indents, and you can only go so far on a stationary bike. If someone checks in and you say all is well, but really you’re having conversations with your dog while watching the Golden Girls (true story), try a more honest answer. Just say it: “My anxiety is through the roof and I need some help with coping right now.”

For me, after Tuna, I started saying “We’re getting by,” or “I’m doing ok,” or “Doing my best.” Those are the family friendly versions of, “I’m living in hell and can barely cope right now.” People don’t want to hear that. Most people don’t know where to put that, it gets awkward, so you water it down.

During these times right here, when we’re contemplating the pros and cons of wearing a fishbowl on our heads to go toilet paper hunting, we might answer the question, “How are you doing?” with the answer, “I’m doing as well as can be expected.” Or, “I think I’m ok, but are you experiencing depression and worry, too?”

Guess what? It’s ok that you’re experiencing that.

If you’re new to grief and trauma (because that’s what the world has been plunged into – – the cold world of drastic, traumatic change), everything you’re feeling is normal. If you’re crying, that’s OK. If you’re acting really weird and loopy, that’s OK. If you’re escaping, that’s OK. If you’re trying to laugh at it all, it’s cool. If you’re over-achieving, that’s fine too. Just be sure to come up for air. Be sure to answer the questions with brutal honesty. Don’t insta-filter your pandemic state. Hashtag no filter that answer: “I’m freaking out, and I need to see your face”, “I want to know what to do when I feel depressed and lonely”… You get the idea.

So this is where I say, “Hang in there!”, which is a watered down version of, “Yeah, this is a really freaking twilight zone state the world is in and I have nothing helpful to say. At all. Hang in there.”

Please talk to your people. Face time. Message. Call. And if you don’t have people, call a church, or look at the Google thingy for a counseling hotline–some are free–just to talk to someone who will listen.

If you’re feeling like hurting yourself, call 1-800-273-8255. Go here if you need to I’m not asking you. I’m telling you.

Sorry, the world is closed. The whole world is just hanging in there until further notice. People tell me that it gets better, this grief crap. People are nice. I guess I’m not people… I’m telling you that it doesn’t get better, just different. It never goes away–we’ll all be changed by this crisis–but when further notice comes, we’ll get to let go.

Eyes Front, Don’t Trip

My kick-ass friend Anna sends me love notes that say “drink water”, and “take walks by yourself”. You know, self-care reminders. So today I took a walk. We have woods in our backyard, and I decided to take the trails instead of the road.

I came across a softball someone must have dropped. I thought “Oh cool, a new ball for Molly” (my dog). I kicked it a few steps, went to pick it up, and stopped. What if it had traces of Covid-19 on it? Anyway, maybe they’ll come back for it…yeah, I’ll leave it.

The trail led to the baseball fields at a nearby school, and there was a dad there hitting balls with his kids. The first ball I watched him hit came to the fence, and I thought I should probably walk faster since I’m not baseball and knowing me I’d get a concussion trying to catch it if it went over. I kept walking, and his next hit landed over the fence and in the grass next to me. I picked up the ball and threw it back over the fence for him, without a single thought of the virus. I just thought it would be a nice thing to do.

Why did I worry about the virus with the softball, but not when I was helping someone? It explains our hero healthcare workers’ mentality, risking their health each day for the greater good. And we can extend that to the rest of the workers still out there providing “necessary services” for the rest of us.

I kept walking. Then it hit me that I should probably clean that hand first thing when I got home. How sad that I have to think this way. What a freaking twilight zone we’re in. I picked up a dry leaf and crumpled it up in my hand, willing nature and dirt to absorb the virus that was 99.9% NOT on the baseball. Ridiculous. But what did I do when I got home? I washed my stupid hands.

I had a pretty good pace going on my walk. It felt good to get out and move, and I was just looking straight ahead as I walked. At one point I stopped and stood silent, taking in what I missed in movement. Deciding against sitting a while, I kept going. At one point, I looked around into the woods while keeping my pace, and I tripped on a root. I didn’t fall, but I did put my eyes back on the trail and kept them there.

Walking clears my head. I had been thinking about our situation at home–how we would have to really plan and manage well to get through the next couple of months, the uncertainty in everything right now, financial strain, changes springing up daily–when my eyes strayed into the forest, my head turned, and that’s when I tripped. That root sprung right up, like the daily changes, when I wasn’t paying attention to the path in front of me. Had I been present, it wouldn’t have tripped me.

We’re being pummeled with opinions and statistics and facts and warnings and directives and suggestions and articles and press conferences and terrifying news all day every day. Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep these days at home as stress-free as I can for my family. I’m trying to take in the pandemic forest around me while smoothly navigating my own family’s path forward. There is NO WAY I can do both at the same time. If I don’t keep my eyes front while we go through this, and only stop briefly to assess what’s going on in the rest of the woods, I’ll fall flat on my face.

My job–YOUR JOB–is to do just that for yourself and/or your family. Sure, listen to your most trusted news source. Yes, get the updates. And then face forward again. We won’t get through this if we’re all splayed on the forest floor, ankles sprained, waiting for help that isn’t coming. Step over the unexpected roots, and walk yourselves smoothly home. Then (unless you’re among the necessary) stay home, because the right thing to do is help others…and wash your hands.

Metaphorical Isolation: This Post Does Not Have a Coronavirus Update

Of all the things I’ve read on social media (which I happen to be glued to right now and I’m not ashamed of it so there), this is the one that stopped me. I was thrown into this super-speed recap of the last 15 months since losing Tuna, and stopped abruptly at this question.

“What changes are you going to make in your life?”

I chuckled a little inside. I’ve already made them–the changes I’d make are the same ones losing Tuna forced me to make. I’d chill out about my kids’ academics. I’d put mental and emotional health above all else (Because isolation can trigger anxiety etc.). I’d keep only what’s necessary and truly important to me. I’d make choices for my family regardless of any “shoulds”, i.e. choosing to isolate before it’s mandatory. I’d stay connected to friends and community because I know that helps keep spirits up. I’d always remember to help others when I could…

Because in a sense, losing Tuna plunged us into a sort of isolation. Yes, our friends, family and community rallied around us and supported us like freaking rock stars. But, NO ONE was actually IN our Hell with us. We’ll always be in a metaphorical isolation. Always. The community reeled with his death, but we are the only family who lost our boy. The entire world is reeling with this pandemic. Communities are feeding the kids who rely on school meals. Communities everywhere are looking after seniors and checking on neighbors. Social media forums have people offering their extra hard-to-find items. Teachers are missing and checking in on their students, and some are remotely teaching.

But each household is the only one experiencing their own isolation.

So while this surreal pandemic is triggering unprecedented anxiety and maybe awareness in all of us, it feels like old hat stuff to my family. We were already way past the “what will you change?” part of our isolation before this pandemic. I’ve been saying that it feels like we were tossed into an alternate nightmare reality that night Tuna died, and this pandemic is now just another weird, surreal part of it. I imagine that others who suffer from PTSD are just gliding along too, like Charlie and Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka’s freaky boat.

However, there is always that green pushing up through the cement. Again, bitter irony that Tuna once again has taught this lesson, like in this post: Of course we count our blessings. Of course we see the “reason for everything” part of all the things. Of course we’re always growing. We are different people now, and I think we’ll handle this better than most because we’ve already done this.

What will I change? I’m finally going to learn how to have a vegetable garden, and play with my dog more often. There, that’s it. Next?

Added thoughts: it’s still early, so it’s possible that I’ll learn more about what I want to change when the pandemic has ended. But as of now, this is it.

Coming Down to the Ground

“When this is over, what changes are you going to make in your life?”
Yeah, I already wrote about this, but I wasn’t done.

The question assumes that this pandemic will end:

“When this is over…”

Will it ever be over? To be honest, I hope not. Not the virus, of course, but the reeling world. The asking of questions like this one. The conservation of products, the sudden interest in our neighbors’ well-being. I know others are talking about this, too. I’ve read the articles with similar thoughts on about how this is going to bring the world to the next level. I really pray that that’s the case.

Tonight, Squishy and I talked about landfills because he asked me what happens to something we throw away. He asked me about what happens when a landfill is full. What happens when there isn’t any more land to fill? This led to talking about the movie Wall-E, and the trash-covered Earth. Perhaps we’re all moving too fast. Perhaps we’re all consuming too much. Perhaps we’re all forgetting the imperative instinct to connect with other people.

My generation knows how to live without plugging in. I went to festivals and concerts and drum circles and road trips and…college (eesh)…all without a cell phone. You can call me old, or you can ask me how to do it. Shit, I need to ask me how to do it. My grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They instinctively reused and mended and made-do. They were young, but so are our kids. This is going to shape them in ways we can’t foresee.

Maybe this pandemic is here to shake us loose from our teetering lifestyles, like the last healthy seeds from a dying tree. It’s now our job to plant and nurture the true grit of human nature. Our children will remember the time when they couldn’t leave the house, and there weren’t any leftovers after meals. Some will skip meals. Their ears will hold our voices talking of the sick people, the need for masks and equipment, the heroes who had to leave their homes. They’ll remember decorating their front windows with homemade chin-up pictures and signs, and retain muscle memory of every dip in the backyard dirt. This generation will appreciate their food, and the importance of caring for elders. I pray that the art they create now in quarantine will preserve the sacredness of all of the arts for their children’s children.

Maybe we won’t all become homesteaders who grow our own food and can it for the winter, but this might just bring all of us back down to the Earth in one way or another. Like Peter Gabriel in the closing credits of Wall-E when he sings “We’re going down to the ground, there’s no better place to go…” “We’re gonna find new priorities. These are extraordinary qualities.”

My optimism is short–I don’t think we’ll all emerge from isolation as a reformed society. But, that doesn’t have to be “when this is over”. Maybe there will be enough of us whose habits change, and our kids will remember all of it. They hear us and see us, and I bet their resilience will carry their generation through whatever is next for the Earth. Then, maybe the lasting effects of this global pandemic will never be over.

Peter Gabriel, Down to Earth

Did you think you’d escaped from routine
By changing the script and the scene?
Despite all you made of it, you’re always afraid
Of the change

All those rules don’t apply
When you’re high in the sky

So, come on down
Come on down

We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

You’ve got a lot on your chest
Well, you can come as my guest
So, come on down
Come on down

We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

Like the fish in the ocean
We felt at home in the sea
We learned to live off the good land
Learned to climb up a tree

Then we got up on two legs
But we wanted to fly
Oh, when we messed up our homeland
We set sail for the sky

We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

We’re coming down
Coming down to Earth
Like babies at birth
Coming down to Earth

We’re gonna find new priorities
These are extraordinary qualities

We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

We’re gonna find new priorities
These are extraordinary qualities
To find on Earth

(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)
(Coming down)

Zen and the Grief Machine

I’ve been spending less time trying to control things and more time noticing what is. Sounds Zen, right? I’m not sure if that’s it.

Last night, Binker talked to me about choosing a band instrument for next year. I was surprised, because he’s a singer–he loves being in chorus. I thought for sure he’d choose choir in 5th grade. And, the instruments he was talking about were random, and I really think he has no idea what he wants to do.

I’m finding myself stepping back a lot more with these kinds of decisions. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s just happening. I’m noticing him. I’m noticing a 4th grade consciousness grappling with how to even make this kind of decision. He’s like a loose piece on a desk or chair–I could grab a clamp, stick it on, twist it tight, make sure that piece doesn’t fall off! I could add glue, stand there a while, make sure that clamp stays on–here is the instrument you should play, but really you should choose choir… But I’m finding myself waiting to see if he can get himself put together. I’ll catch him if he falls.

I’ve learned that I really don’t know anything. I could think I knew what was best for them, and gaslight them into choosing that. But what if I’m wrong? (It’s been known to happen.) If I leave it to them, it’s on them. And maybe they’ll learn something about making decisions. Shit, my life choices haven’t all been sparkly perfect. In fact, I’d probably change….uh, MANY of them…decades, even. (My own parents can kindly zip it, please.) I can’t presume to know that a child’s choice is the wrong one. Plus, there are no wrong choices if we’re talking Zen and stuff.

When I was set on Tuna continuing piano, it was Latefordinner who had to convince me he was a drummer. I remember it in slow motion–the two of them standing there, trying to convince me. Tuna looking helpless, Latefordinner stepping toward me, holding my face, speaking in that low, super slo mo voice, “Thhe boyyyy iiiissss aaaa DRUUUUMMMMMMERRRR. Hhhee doessssn’t neeeeeedd morrrrre piannno lessssonnnns.” My shoulders slumped. What the hell did I know, anyway? The boy was a drummer.

Why this shift to just guiding? Sadly, I have to give some credit to Tuna. Grief depletes your energy like…man…like you’ve lost some of your own life. Like that machine thing in The Princess Bride that sucks years off of your life. It’s like you’re hooked up to that thing 24/7, but it’s invisible and you have to carry it on your back, and pretend it’s not there. With your new limited mental, emotional, and physical capacities from carrying around the grief machine; you’re forced to slow down. There’s no more extra effort to make things perfect. Things just are as they are. That machine won’t let you do any more than BE there. It drains you of all but the bare minimum to keep going. Of course, you’re still there underneath it–I’m still there for my boys–I just can’t carry anyone else’s burdens anymore. Silver lining: Their strength grows when they carry their own.

So, I don’t know if that’s a Zen thing, or just self-preservation. Is there a difference? Don’t know that either. An old friend used to call me “Zen Jen”. Maybe this grief machine is forcing me back to that simplicity. Stupid insight. I’d rather be less enlightened and have my Tuna back, but if we’re talking Zen and stuff, I guess this is just what freaking IS now.

Radical Piece Protector

It’s a radical concept to some–I listen to my children. They are individuals with their own ideas, opinions, feelings, experiences, and perceptions. When one of them tells me he’s scared, I listen. When he says he couldn’t breathe and his stomach hurt at school, I recognize that he’s describing a panic attack. When he can’t sleep and begs me not to go, I hear him. I respect my children and believe them when they tell me their feelings. If they can’t count on me to trust and protect them now, how will they trust me with their hearts in the future?

Squishy is grieving, and he has severe separation anxiety. He’s now scared people will leave him. This extends to everything–pets, TV shows, and objects. When one of his mittens fell out in the car and he didn’t have it for recess, he wouldn’t use any others and ran away from his teacher. He ended up surrounded and secluded, and then had a panic attack. His brother died suddenly last year, but no hugs while he’s upset. No understanding that his mitten missing translated as everything being out of place and nothing would ever be right again. This is grief. I’ve been told they can’t help him with anxiety at school. Almost every day I pick up my baby boy with a face puffy from tears, and exhausted with worry about the next day at school. He. Is. 7. Years. Old. And so, we pulled him from school… for the second and last time.

I pulled him the first time in the fall for similar reasons, and because he was being physically restrained and secluded almost every day. I homeschooled/unschooled him for two months, and a lot of healing happened in those two months. He opened up about Tuna for the first time, and he relaxed a lot. He started to like learning. I thought that was a good amount of time for him to breathe and heal, so with high hopes for success, I sent him back to school starting with half days at the doctor’s suggestion.

My hopes were wrong. He was miserable. He hates school. Our family is hurting, and anything that adds to our pain (that we have the power to change) is now unwelcome in our lives.

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

When you lose a child to suicide, the person that was you becomes a shattered mirror, smashed to tiny shards, skidded and scattered– stuck underneath in the small dark places–impossible to sweep up. There are pieces of me that are lost forever. They’re lodged in floorboards and bare feet. They’re in a landfill with rinds and wrappers. They’re dust.

And there are just a very few pieces that I found and kept. I’ve tried to repair them–to put them back together–but they don’t fit now, so they just lay there, broken. Now, I’m searching for pieces that will fit where the gone-forever ones should be. When I look into them now, I see shifting fragments of the self I used to know. Where I’ll find the pieces to repair them, and what they’ll even look like, is a mystery.

But, there is one piece I keep apart from the others. It shows me the same piece of me each time I look. I’m protecting this one–giving it it’s own space. Every time I check to see if I’m still there, this piece shows me my boys.

When I only have fragments of myself left, and my two living boys are whole and alive, I will do ANYTHING to make sure that piece is protected. When I entrust anyone to hold that piece, and there’s even a slight chance that it could break, I’m taking it back. That means that if my boys tell me they don’t feel safe, the most important thing in the universe is to make sure they do. PERIOD.

When we still had Tuna with us, there was a lot more worry about the “shoulds”. I like to think that we’ve always been this way–fiercely protective of our children’s mental and emotional safety (We definitely ignored the “shoulds” more than most people I know)– but they did hold us back from the right decision more than once. Now, the things we thought mattered are meaningless.

Now, there are zero “shoulds” for us. There is no room here for anything or anyone that tries to impose on our fragile family well-being with a “should”, or a “have to”, or a “keep up”. If it’s a radical concept to anyone that we listen to our children’s voices, and that their mental and emotional health come first; I hope they may learn to unconditionally follow their hearts and guts. There is no time on Earth for anything else.

May no one judge the grieving in their process, only love and support them in every way, and forever. As trauma survivors we’re doing our best. We have no room for struggle. Zero room for trouble, unless someone threatens the well-being of that one whole, beautiful, fragile piece of me. Then, I will bring that piece back to peace and safety before you can say “should”.

A draft I found– a Tuna post from the vault.

FB_IMG_1581918248714**I haven’t been back to this blog since Tuna left us on December 12, 2018. He took his own life. He was 13. It’s bitter irony that I came out as a special needs parent in my last post just days before he left. I decided to come back here tonight, and maybe keep writing. This is a draft. I haven’t edited it, just sharing it as-is.**

Tuna sits in the very back of my minivan. I call it “Tuna’s World”, where the food spills and trash accumulation remain hidden until the periodic freak-outs/clean-outs happen and we wonder how the van doesn’t smell like a dump. One morning on the way to school, I threw a brush back at him. It went too far, so at the next red light, he unbuckled and reached in the way back to get it. After he sat back down and buckled up again, he put his headphones back on and set the brush down. I had to actually say, “Now USE the brush.”

“Oh, right. Haha.”


This is the same 11yo boy who is such a gifted drummer that his teacher says he has never had anyone so advanced at his age. This is the same boy who can talk about Ancient Egypt, the Butterfly Effect, and the periodic table, in one conversation. I have seven more years to try to teach him how to at least draw a bridge between that span of common sense and book smarts…building a bridge may come later, but maybe I can have a say in the blueprints.

Tonight, Tuna and I had a conversation about how he can earn money for the game console he wants, the virtual reality thingamabob that he wants, and how he could earn way more for other things if he does it right. We talked about mowing lawns. We talked about child labor laws. We talked about my first job at 15. Then, we talked about how he could earn money playing gigs. The common theme in all of this talk was that he kept selling himself short–he wanted to charge too little for mowing lawns, and didn’t even know he was good enough to earn money drumming. I explained that most people didn’t think an 11yo boy could play well enough to earn money, but he already plays with high-schoolers! His teacher wants him to play at amateur night with adults! You know what he said when he learned that he’s the youngest student to play at his level? He grinned, “The real reason I play the drums is because I love it.” I knew why he said that–because he has already decided not to let his talent get to his head. I mean, seriously, who gets that at 11?

So, I’ve decided that it’s my job to help him with publicity. It’s his job to remain humble. I am so freaking proud of him, and I just want him to keep doing what he loves for that reason only. But, his hair won’t brush itself. My concern as a mother is that even when a brush is thrown at him, he still doesn’t use it. Can I teach him to bridge that gap? My hope is that when opportunities are thrown his way, it’s not my voice telling him to take them, but his own. Or, at least, my voice in his head saying “Now use the brush! Take the opportunity! You deserve it!” Is this a normal concern? I threw the brush at him pretty hard, because I like to chuck things at him (it’s funny when he has headphones on because he has no idea it’s coming). Will he ever go get the brush himself?

I know the answer to most of these questions–YES, the boy will learn. YES, the boy will eventually take pride in his appearance and talents. But when Tuna has the potential to succeed this early in life, I think I might step in and chuck some more opportunities his way. I don’t know where he gets this humility beyond his years, and I think that job is done.

Because Boys 2.0: Not Entirely Because Boys

Screenshot_20181202-233843_ChromeOnce upon a time there was a storyteller with three sons.  She wrote about them, and many readers in the land praised her work. The boys’ ridiculous antics made the townspeople slap their knees, and their stories spread far and…well maybe just a little ways away…

The storyteller eventually moved to the land of Full Time Job where she thought she was exhausting all of her creative energy, and that must be why she stopped telling tales of her boys. But then, there came a day when the real reason revealed itself in a disguised message, delivered from the nearby town of Facebookland. On the surface it was indeed an interesting exchange, but between the words came another voice: “It is time to do another brave thing:  It is time to tell your whole story, and spread your truth far and maybe wide this time. This is why your writing has stopped until today.”

So the storyteller opened up and shared her whole story and sold lots of books and became a successful writer.  The end.

I hope you liked my totally true tale of the storyteller who is actually me. Yeah, it’s all true…it’s just that that ending part isn’t true YET.

If you’re just joining us, I started this blog about my three boys in April of 2014. Tuna is now 13, Binker is 8, and Squishy is almost 6.  I’ve shared a lot, but skated around the whole truth: I am a special needs mom.

It’s time to include that part of my story.  It’s time to talk about it. So, just as I jumped in and wrote one of my first entries about floor food, here goes: Tuna is gifted, has Tourrette’s Syndrome, ADHD, and food allergies. Binker is autistic, has ADHD, and is gifted. Squishy is autistic and we suspect giftedness. These diagnoses make myself and Latefordinner special needs parents. 

There. Done.

I have my dear friend to thank for unknowingly jump-starting my blog again, and showing me it’s time to come out. 

I’ve chosen to keep writing here, rather than starting a new blog, because I want you to understand why I stayed in the special needs parenting closet–those of you with neurotypical children may have related to the chaos when you read my stories. However, the differences in special needs families add several layers of challenges that I left out of those stories.  The wonderful news is that neurotypical families can relate to our stories!  We really are “normal” (because no one is normal, so we’re all normal), so there are tons of things we all have in common. Whew! That’s comforting for special needs families. My charge now is to talk about those unspoken layers.  It’s time to pull them out of the closet, dust them off, and show you how they fit if you’ve never worn them. And if you do wear them, maybe we’re matchy!

I hope you’ll stick around for some knee-slapping, eye-opening, ignorance-squashing stories–Because Boys 2.0: Special Needs Edition. AKA “God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle”, and “You’re Their Mom For a Reason”. Also, “I Don’t Know How You Do It.” 

(Psst, I don’t either.)

(Pssst, actually it’s magic. Special needs moms have magic. Don’t tell anyone.)



Because Dog: The Cat Person’s Guide to Mentally Preparing for a Dog in 79 Easy Steps

Step 1:  There is no way to mentally prepare yourself for a dog, especially if you’re a cat person, and even if you are already a parent of humans.  The End.


Just kidding.  Here are the steps that don’t actually work to prepare you for anything but you could read them anyway if you want: 

Step 1:  Be a cat person for 40 years.

Step 2:  Realize that life is short.  Boys and husband have begged for years, so let them have a dog.

Step 3:  Regret this decision immediately.  

Step 4:  Remember step 2.  

Step 5:  Repeat steps 2 and 3 multiple times.

Step 6:  Do not give local shelter your first born child.  WTH is that all about?  We have three healthy boys and three healthy cats!  I’m pretty sure we know how to take care of living things.  No one did a home visit before we left the hospital– “We’re sorry, your house does not yet have socket protectors or a baby gate, you cannot bring your child home.  Also, we need to call three people who know you and also have children to see if you will be fit parents, as well as a pediatrician who will release all of your other children’s medical records to us.  If these do not meet our standards, we will give your child to someone else.”  That place was MENTAL.  

Step 7:  Do not reinvent the wheel–go back to the wonderful shelter where you rescued your kitties.  

Step 8:  Visit several times over several weeks.  Become discouraged.  Repeat steps 2 and 3.

Step 9:  On the 5th visit,  decide to give a dog a trial run at home with the shelter’s “Pajama Party” program.  Watch the family fall in love over the weekend, and maybe do the same (but don’t tell anyone).  

Step 10:  Decide to keep the dog.

Step 11:   Panic.  Repeat step 2.   Panic.  And so on, indefinitely.

Step 12:  Become more broke than you already were because boys/kids.

Steps  13, 14, 15, 16 and 17:  Spend 95% of your time cleaning up pee and poop in the house, spend 95% of your time cleaning up poop outside,  spend 95% of your time washing dog-smell bedding,  spend 95% of your time saying “Good Girl!” (Freaking exhausting for this cat-person who believes in intrinsic motivation. Do you really need that much praise?  I mean, I like validation, but can’t I just remind her once in a while? And does she really need to follow me around all of the time?  Yes, I like you too, now stop needing me constantly.  Geezus, it’s like an insecure boyfriend who keeps asking if you’re mad at him), spend 95% of your time saying “Oh my God!! Drop it!  What the hell are you doing?! Where’s the dog?! Get down! NO! Leave it!! Don’t eat that!! DOG!!! And, OH MY GOD THAT IS DISGUSTING!!!!”

Step 18:  Nearly have an anxiety attack because holy crap what have you gotten yourself into and how are you supposed to function in life if this thing is causing turmoil all over the place and the poor kitties are scared to death and you have no time to even think let alone sit down.

Step 19:  Watch it get a little easier every few days.

Step 20:  Watch yourself melt when the dog shows you unconditional love and affection. (Deny it if mentioned.)  Realize that she really needed us.

Step 21:  Watch your boys smile, laugh, relax, and be comforted and understood by this difficult and adoring creature who has just thrown a giant wrench in your life. 

Step 22:  Feel completely overwhelmed and want to run away because boys AND dog.

Steps 23-76:  WINE

Step 77:  Watch your husband light up every day and brim with emotion because he has wanted a dog his entire life.  

Step 78:  Allow your ever-shifting standards to sway, step away and look at yourself standing in the center of the storm, and hang on for the ride.  

Step 79:  Remind yourself that change is the only constant–my ever-present undercurrent of consciousness.  Change is the only constant.  And man, it sure makes my heart happy to see my family smile.  Also wine.