If you saw an entry get posted earlier today then mysteriously disappear, that was my fault. I wrote something short and quick about Riley being fearful about random things lately, especially noises, and shortly after I hit publish someone commented about the possibility that he may have Sensory Processing Disorder and maybe I should consider getting him evaluated — and I had this knee-jerk reaction of feeling like I had portrayed my child superficially and falsely, like I’d painted only a tiny part of his whole enormous picture. Like I’d left the door open for his mental health to be analyzed based on five slapdash paragraphs.

I’m fairly certain the commenter meant her suggestion in the same way that people suggest cradle cap treatments and potty training methods and anything else — which is to say, it was surely meant out of kindness, just an idea for my consideration. And it’s not an out-of-line suggestion at all, especially when you consider the things I’ve written about Riley — hates loud noises, is a picky eater, roils with suspicion. But that’s the problem, I think I tend to turn people into a sort of caricature of themselves when I write about them here (JB, the fence-leaping, nuts-grabbing, constantly leering husband!) and I don’t want to do that with my children. As Riley gets older he’s getting so much more complicated, he’s such a faceted little person now instead of a baby who spends their day engaged in mostly the same activities as all babies do.

The other day I was watching Riley play in our garage and he had picked up this piece of wood and was brandishing it ferociously, shouting about how he was chasing goats out of Daddy’s shop. Over and over he would run from one end of the shop to the other, waving his stick and yelling for the goats to GO, GET OUT OF HERE! And at one point he bashed his stick down all cave-boy-like and I started feeling like things were getting maybe a little too aggressive, so I said something about how he didn’t want to hurt the goats, did he? And right away he got all contrite and changed the game entirely, now he was picking up invisible baby goats that fit in his palm, holding his hands up to me tenderly for me to see the tiny goats, they’re just babies Mommy. Next he wanted to build a home for the baby goats, so he took pieces of wood and made a square frame outside in the grass for the baby goats. At one point I said let’s call the goats in to their new home, and I (stupidly) said “Here they come!” while pointing across the lawn and his eyes grew wide and fearful and suddenly he was kind of frightened and wanted to go inside.

So you see, depending on what part of that (incredibly thrilling!) story I chose to tell, you might think Riley was kind of violent (the stick, the chasing), sweet and loving (the goat home), or just kind of a wuss (the being scared of the, uh, invisible goats that he had invented).

Anyway. After 6 years of this, I feel like I’m blindly groping into new territory blogwise. I just want to do right by my kids, and I suppose I’m still trying to figure out what that means when it comes to this website.

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Kim
Kim
13 years ago

Story + picture = my heart cracking in half. MAN is the pms bad this month!

Meg
Meg
13 years ago

Your kids sound really awesome. What cool little people they are!

And yeah, that’s tough work trying to write in a way that accurately and fairly portrays someone’s personality. It makes writing online very bizarre. You’re creative and talented, and I think it takes some balls to keep attempting at writing online, even when it gets confusing. So, keep at it, you’re doing a fine job!

ML
ML
13 years ago

Having been reading here for 3+ years (I think?) the impression I have of your boys is that they are brilliant, sweet and devestatingly darling (and normal!)…so I think you are doing a great job and will only continue to. I’m just glad no water heater has boiled over and no one is puking! :)Good job!

Mary O
Mary O
13 years ago

Being weirdly afraid of things is such a normal phase for toddlers. Right now my almost-3-year-old is suddenly totally scared of going down the slide at the playground, when he has never previously never shown a shred of fear in his life. It’s just one of those things that they eventually outgrow.
The story about Riley’s goats cracked me up. Such an imagination!

Nicki
13 years ago

I love the story about the tiny little baby goats! That is very sweet! As far as sensory processing disorder, kids with that disorder are very sensitive to loud noises, but I don’t think it would come on that suddenly!

All Adither
13 years ago

I was wondering where that post went when I clicked over to comment. This one is better though…more well-rounded.

And my God, these commenters are lightning fast!

Mama Ritchie
13 years ago

Parenthood is so scary even when you keep it to yourself and don’t share it with the world of the internets. Over the past 3 and 1/2 years of his existence, I thought Charlie had Sensory Processing Disorder, autism, a tied tongue, vision problems, acid reflux, stranger anxiety, asthma, and obsessive compulsive disorder. The only person who had something wrong with them was me. I can’t even imagine the freak outs I would experience if I put his behavior characteristics online and got back diagnoses from people I didn’t even know (not that the OP meant harm, like you said.)

BTW, the fact that Riley is participating in such complex imaginary play points to a tremendously gifted child – we’re talking Doogie Howser here. Start saving your money, cuz that kid’s going to Harvard when he’s 14.

clarabella
13 years ago

That picture is making me want to weep, just a little. So sweet and so precious.
I did read that earlier post, and you know, I actually had the thought that someone might to jump to that conclusion. I guess I read too many “mommy-blogs” where things like that happen. (Not to denigrate concerned comments AT ALL.)
I for one, don’t know enough about this mommying thing to make a comment like that, but I am sure there are many who do, and, like you said, have only the best intentions when they do.
I admire you for writing about your boys so openly and honestly, and I can only imagine how hard it is to write about them when they are, like you say, such multi-faceted little beings that we internet readers only see snippets of.
I happen to find everything you report about Riley doing entirely endearing, but I’m a longtime, silly reader, so my opinion may be biased.
Good luck. Keep it up.

Carolyn
13 years ago

I was going to comment (for the first time) on your first entry until it disappeared. I was just going to say that TO THIS DAY I do not like the sound of balloons popping due to a game played at birthday parties in my childhood. I still don’t like the sound but I turned out pretty normal. Seriously, who likes loud startling noises? Normal. Natural. Adorable.

Mandee
13 years ago

Man, what a great kid. I wish I had some goats so he could look after them for me.

LJ
LJ
13 years ago

Having kids is scary. Helping them to grow into well adjusted adults is a huge job in itself. Wondering if they’re weird, if something is wrong with them, are you doing everything right is only normal. And they can be very exasperating at 3, 4, 5+… years… Spending time with your kids and being hands on parents is what it’s all about. There will always be bumps in the road, but when they get to be in their 20’s and they have a job, are in college, haven’t done drugs or turned up pregnant you know you’ve done a pretty damn good job at raising them. Just from the posts and pictures I’ve read and seen over the last several years, it looks to me like you’ve got two normal, beautiful little boys.

Liz
Liz
13 years ago

My daughter just said to that picture, “Oh! My brothers! I want to go play there.” Hee! Cute.

jilian
13 years ago

I did see your earlier post – and noticed it disappeared because it prompted me to leave my google reader to leave my first comment ever! And there was nowhere to comment! Your blog is one of my favorites to read. I love your sense of humor and vision of the world. Your stories always make me smile and look forward to one day being a mom myself! I was trying to leave a comment and tell you what a great caring mom you are and how lucky your two little ones are to have you!

I value ‘realness’ in friends. That’s why I enjoy your blog so much. You’re real. And that’s awesome.

Nicole Barczak
13 years ago

I think the fearfulness thing is totally normal (if you want an opinion… if not, just ignore me LOL!). The part of your story about being scared of the imagined-by-him goats… that is SO my son. For the past year he randomly tells us there’s a Moose outside. Or a moose over there (err.. o’er dare!). And if we say “Look, there’s the moose!” he freaks out and clings to us and says “No dare not! Dare no moose… Moose is my friend!” Weirdo. LOL! Anyhow– you’re not alone in having a kid that invents an imaginary animal and then is scared of it. I guess I at least *hope* its normal HAHA!

biscuit
13 years ago

That picture is AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW-mazin’!

Also, JB’s characterization made me literally LOL.

Shannon
Shannon
13 years ago

Linda,

One of my best friends recommended your blog to me and I’ve been a silent lurker for a few months now. (sound spooky?)

I have to say that your stories on motherhood, and life in general, provide me with laughter, motivation and inspiration. Not something I ever thought I would get from someone I don’t know in “real” life.

You are an amazing mom and you have amazing children and I love hearing you break down the little moments of your life in such a clear, concise (sp?) and witty way. You make me look at the everyday things I experience in a new perspective and appreciate things that I might have overlooked living and working in the ‘daily grind’ of life.

Off topic from your post, but your concern for your portrayal (sp?) of your son and that darn sweet picture made me want to comment on how much this blog means to me and how wonderful I think you and your family are.

Shannon

St
St
13 years ago

I starred that original post because I was hoping your readers would have advice. My 5 yr old daughter is similar in her strange fearfulness. There’s nothing WRONG with her so I didn’t think there was anything wrong with Riley either! Oh well, maybe others who have experienced this will leave you (I mean me) advice here anyway!

Kate
13 years ago

My son is 6 now and still doesn’t like certain loud noises. Playing soccer was a complete waste of time because he ran around with his fingers in his ears to block out the sound of the whistle. Yet the volume at which the boy yells and plays is WAY louder – go figure.

I saw your previous post and figured you’d removed it because of a comment or feared backlash. You’re probably right – the comment was meant to be a helpful suggestion, but I totally understand the reaction. Just know that you have portrayed your boys as loving, smart, well-loved & normal kids. I for one would never think otherwise.

ang
ang
13 years ago

WHATEVER! (To that sensory processing disorder comment, not to you) I was going to comment in the disappearing post because Riley sounds like my 2.5 year old. She’s scared of clowns, scared of pirates, scared of noisy boats and scared of festivals… all because they’re noisy.

In fact we went to the Seattle Greek Festival last weekend.. and it was noisy under the tent.. she wouldn’t eat and she wouldn’t play games. But then she’s fine at music class when fifty tambourines are all jangling at the same time.

And she’s also asking things like.. can I get down from my bed myself? can I take this toy out of my bin? can I eat this cheese stick? can I go play?

Both posts were great by my book… but I really identified with the one that’s gone.

k....
13 years ago

I’m pretty sure he’s at the age where kids realize that bad things can happen, this is scary for them. Be glad he’s doing this (it should be kicking in around this age, hell he might even be advanced!) My daughter just turned 3 and seems fearless most of the time, but as of lastnight when she saw her mother running like a lunatic because of a huge racoon in the driveway, you guessed it, she’s now talking alot about me running, the racoon, and how she is scared of it, but how she is safe inside. Anyhow what I’m getting at he is such a normal little boy, not to mention adorable! Your doing a great job as his momma :)

zdoodlebub
13 years ago

I should preface this with: I say all this with love in my heart.

Just because you write something that led someone to suggest there might be something wrong with your son doesn’t mean you have to trip all over every word you choose to make sure we’re all getting the full picture so that no one dares suggest some kind of disorder.

My 9-year-old son does have mild autism. And he has many other wildly wonderful things about him that make him who he is. He is wonderful and funny and sensitive and has always looked people in the eye.

My son has a label. And 7 years ago, when we first got that label it scared the shit out of me. But you know what? The strategies we use with him aren’t that different than if we didn’t have a label and just thought he had some challenges or quirks.

This has come up at other blogs and I’m not the first to say it in response to an author having a mild freak out about the suggestion that Something. Might. Be. Wrong: having a child with differences is not the end of the world.

I’m in no way suggesting that there is anything atypical about your kids, not one bit. I understand your need to protect your son from people’s incorrect assumptions. But your reaction to the very thought? As a mom who has a son who is atypical…I’m not trying to be harsh, but I think you can see where I’m going with this. He is great, our life is great, his differences are a small slice of our life. A life that is very, very good and not to be feared or pitied.

Unfortunately, this is the world we live in now, where the awareness and fear of autism or PDD-NOS or ADD or sensory disorders are off the charts. Everyone is looking for it. And you can totally find it in every kid, if that’s all you are looking for.

People will see what they see…no matter the words you choose on a given day.

I read your blog because I love it and love you. There is just no way to make everyone get it. Even me, who is getting all snippy at the idea that someone thinks there might be something wrong with having a kid who has something wrong.

Did that even make sense?

zdoodlebub
13 years ago

There are so many things about that previous comment that I should have softened. But there it is. No ill intended.

(nor do I think you are currently “trip[ing] all over every word you choose” in this post…just something I can envision you struggling with in the future, the next time you try to share something about your boys.)

OK. That’s it.

Love ya!

And, um. Sorry?

(backs away, smiling awkwardly)

K.

Thx. Bye.

Cameron
13 years ago

When I got on the net and blog, it’s a release so to speak. Most of my banter is light-heartened…meant to be entertaining and a way to blow off some steam…nothing more. Sometimes readers take things to literally. I’m sure the commenter had good intentions, but making a clinical diagnosis over a blog is a stretch.

My daughter is 3. She has peed her pants the last couple days because she is scared of the loud toilets. After a couple days of coaxing, she got over her phobia. That’s normal and expected.

My point is – I don’t think you need to feel guilty about the way you paint anybody, nor feel you should write a certain way for fear that you are not painting somebody in their true nature. After all, it’s your writing…..do it however you want.. In my blog, and in yours I would assume, it is a release, a way to vent.

Sundry
13 years ago

zdoodle: to be clear, I am specifically concerned with the way I am talking about my kids. I am not negatively focused on the possibility of having an atypical kid (do you think one blog comment is what would cause me to think about that subject?), rather, I am worried about how I can talk about my boys in a way that furthers what I most love about blogging — identifying, sharing, supporting — without misrepresenting my kids or giving a poorly-painted picture of their lives.

ellie
13 years ago

linda:

as you know, i’ve been reading your blog since before riley’s birth – and having my first group of digital storytelling students read it as well. they got so hooked on it that the day it was found out riley was born a big bunch of them emailed me to announce the news (which i already knew – but just had to love them for what they did). the reason why they read through (and some still read to this day) is because of your honesty and ability to emote. you share the joy and the not so joyous. you’re real. please keep it that way. i’m blogging my life for a very different reason and, like you, got intimidated (scared even) by something someone commented (my sis, in fact) and took a good long time to “remind” myself that i have to stay true to myself. please stay true to yourself. learn how to read what’s genuine advice and downright nastiness – and act accordingly. write a manifesto if you have to – and publish it – and shove it in the readers’ faces every once in a while if it needs reminding. and learn how to read into those “scared mommy posts” that are more people getting caught up in the media and fearful manifestations of things that may or may not be reality. but please, linda, stay true. i never had a family – but if i had, i would want one just like yours in all respects.

ellie

zdoodlebub
13 years ago

I think I just illustrated my own point. Some of us are going to see what we want to see in your words. And when you took down one post and explained in another, it stirred defensiveness in me, right or wrong. I chose to take up arms for my own son and our issues. My bad.

Jem
Jem
13 years ago

Just incidentally, I used to be terrified of balloons as a kid. I still kinda am. Everyone used to play those games where they would pop the balloons and I would just cry.

Shana
Shana
13 years ago

Why not just delete comments like that and ignore it? People shouldn’t make comments like that on a public board, for sure.

I sort of understand what you are saying, but can’t you make a conscious effort to balance out your stories about your children? I love the way Plain-Jane does that. She somehow gives you this complicated picture of her kid in such a balanced way.

I love hearing stories about Riley and Dylan. They are beautiful, full of life children. And some children are just more sensitive to the world around them. Most outgrow the fears that can feel a little overwhelming. It could be he’s a very visual person and he can see things in ways ordinary mortals cannot. Like a movie or in pictures. It’s pretty scary when you actually invision some goats coming your way, don’t you think? ;)

Alyson
13 years ago

Make you a deal….I’ll work on why Riley is scared of loud noises and suspicious, and you can try to figure out why my youngest has a talent for working my last nerve and has a hair-trigger temper (read that last part gets pissed when he’s asked to empty the dishwasher).

Really on the scale of potential child problems, I think we both have it pretty good. I know a kid who goes nuts whenever you mention any member of the Ape Family and proceeds to tell you every bit of encyclopedic knowledge he as about Apes (which is a butt-load). This might be a cute thing, but this kid is also so socially detatched, that there’s got to be something wrong. And his parents DON’T SEE IT.

Better to be a parent (like you and me) that worries and worries over their kid’s quirks, rather than take a PollyAnna-ish view of their kid’s genuine problems. We might be driven insane by our kids, but at least they’ll be more or less normal when they grow up. Hang in there.

Jennie
13 years ago

It actually makes me feel BETTER about my crazy toddler and all her phobias and invented games to hear that your toddler is quite similar. We’ve never played with invisible goats here (BTW, adorable), but have interesting things going on here nonetheless. Mine is afraid of the vacuum, of bugs (they “get her” in the night), of dogs under her bed, loud sounds of most any variety… the list goes on. The short version: your kids are totally normal and actually seem pretty awesome.

Off topic: You inspire me to be a better mom in a lot of ways… thank you for that. =)

Lesley
Lesley
13 years ago

Sounds to me like Riley has a wonderful, free and supported imagination; the kind a loved child has. Wonderful post.

P.S. It’s normal for kids to fear things, even things that don’t seem particularly scary. Children are such sensitive creatures, and whole, too. They aren’t growing into people, they are already whole.

I knew a kid who at four was terrified by The Flintstones for a period of time. Everything is temporary.

Krissy
Krissy
13 years ago

I think the goat thing is quite sweet. He’s only three afterall. It just shows he has an imagination. Now if he was 20 years older and doing the same thing well yeah, that would be a cause for concern.

anna
anna
13 years ago

Well said.

Sam
Sam
13 years ago

I am a fast little chicken (very fat, pregnant, and hobbling chicken actually) and I read the post and the comment. The comment had a tone to it that made me suck in my breathe a little bit, so I think your reaction was understandable.

Lori
Lori
13 years ago

I think you’re doing a great job. And your kids sounds perfectly normal and lovely.

I was a huge fan of yours on Parent Dish. Somehow I missed your farewell post and a few weeks ago I realized that I hadn’t seen any of your entries recently. You were the only reason I was checking PD anymore. I’m so glad I found your personal blog. I missed your voice. And these entries are much more fun, anyway. Much more authentic. Thank you!

Lindy
13 years ago

Funny what people think when reading the same post. I thought it made total sense that he was fearful of you leaving when all these adults in his life were disappearing! I thought you were pretty astute to have noticed and that poor Riley will be so happy when his dad gets home. I think we all do the best we can. I think people are sooo quick to want to label kids these days. Sensory Perception Disorder? Whaaaa?? Why when I was a kid we didn’t have any of this hooey! Bah!

susie
13 years ago

I just commented on this picture in Flickr (about the socks) but now that I read your blog entry, I wanted to mention that my toddler asks us every night to make sure all the cows are out of his bedroom before we leave him there. Cows that he created all in his own mind, and now the thought of them scares him on a regular basis.

I enjoy your blog so much and I do think you paint a nuanced picture of the members of your family (even JB, although I have to admit the horndog oven fries a couple of weeks ago made me SNORT with laughter). I love reading about Riley and his funny ways. Glad you are writing.

Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

I love hearing about your kids. I am 29 years old and still afraid of balloons and loud noises.

Also, the baby goat story was so freakin cute.

pippa
13 years ago

I have two kids with SPD, and not for one second have I ever thought from your blog posts that either of your kids had it. I think that there are some parents who wish they’d figured it out earlier, and want to help anyone who needs it, and some who got a diagnosis and it’s a hammer and everything is a nail. Most kids are picky eaters. My two pickiest are the kids who do NOT have SPD (and yes, they were evaluated too just in case). Three-year-olds are just figuring out there is danger in the world and they aren’t sure what is scary and what’s not. And we all have our own idiosyncracies. I really don’t think, as attentive as you are to your kids, and as much as you WORRY about them, that you are the type of mom to miss something like that. Even with the diehard denial parents, they know, and have always known, that something is just a little “off.”

Joanne
13 years ago

Oh it’s hard, I agree. I keep blogs for my kids and have, like, no readers, but my mom is constantly reminding me that I should be ‘careful’ what I say. Sometimes, just to amuse myself and keep it light on a bad day, I might or might not call him “crazy” or wish he lived “somewhere else” with “another mother” and my mom figures that might offend my freaking aunt or something. So it’s hard with the devil you know and the devil you don’t know. Also, not that you asked (ha!) but my son is autistic and has wicked sensory problems and it is, as you know, so much more than just being sensitive to loud noises. It has to do much more with integration and the level of what they need/ don’t need. It just doesn’t seem to be an issue for your boys. Who are beautiful.

beach
beach
13 years ago

I remember when my oldest was about 3….he developed weird fears, in fact before tucking him into bed at night we used to have to banish his room from them….weird tucks(wtf is a weird truck, who knows but he was scared of them,)…scary eyes, in fact at one point I think we felt like an extra 1/2 hour was needed as his list grew…..then it disappeared…..and was probably replaced with another phase(having to dress in the same color, not tags on his shirts…ect….I love hearing stories about your family cuz it brings me back to the days when my kids were their ages!!…and I give you props for having to listen to overanalytical people who feel the need to label everything a toddler does….gah….anyway, love the picture…..loved the goat story too, riley is a hoot!!

Melissa
Melissa
13 years ago

Very good point and great story to illustrate it. I feel the same way when I even talk about my kids to other people. The picture can never be complete from the viewpoint of another person.

Erin
13 years ago

OMG. That photo. They are just perfect.

Kaire
13 years ago

when my great nephew was about 3 he was playing with those little people fisher price things and he had the school bus crash, everyone died, and then “they” loaded up the bodies into a dump truck because it was “easier to take them all to buried.”

Morbid? Strange? (funny as hell to me!) I’m sure readers could give me a thousand view points on what’s “wrong” with the boy. Well, he’s 8, he’s a normal kid who loves baseball, soccer, star wars, and john deere tractors.

There is a lot for their brains to process and sort out. I think it’s all part of their growth.

Niki P.
Niki P.
13 years ago

Your kids are healthy and happy and normal. Normal is the most subjective word in the english language. They are their own normal. I love your writing, I love your honesty and I love the fact that I also say I would stuff my kids in a woodchipper if the moment was right! It does get easier as they get older. Potty training, kindergarten, teachers they don’t like, sports, girls! It changes every single day. Keep writing from your heart- we know how you feel!

Jeanette
13 years ago

I never once thought that you portray your children as anything but what they are. Normal, healthy kids. You put a wonderful spin on children and motherhood that I love to read! For the record, kids go through so many stages. When my son was about 3-4 years old, he went through a stage where he was petrified of the shower head. He refused to take a bath or go anywhere near the tub and I had to bath him in the utility sink for a month! I have now idea how it started and the one day he was just over it!

kim
kim
13 years ago

I support your decisions, whatever they may be, you know why? You are a MOM taking care of YOUR kids, we are lucky to have you share some of it with us.

I am glad you are doing what is best for you an your family, it reminds me of why I started reading your blog in the first place, your honesty, your wit, your great writing skills.

Raising kids is tough, with or without a blog, know that you are knocking it out of the park!

thanks for sharing

Claudia
13 years ago

You know what? Riley is perfectly normal. Kids his age are normally scared of things. Shit, I’m scared of loud noises and I’m over 40. Maybe I have a disorder or something. I have an agressive four year old daughter who likes to play “fight” with her older sister. She always wins. She’s not the child I expected to have but she’s her own personal version of normal. I wouldn’t worry too much. It’s hard to be a toddler. And it’s harder to be the mother of one.

Tina
Tina
13 years ago

OMG! Please don’t edit too much… I think most of us tend to create characatures when we tell story about loved ones. I, personally, find your blogs to be witty, honest, ascerbic and feel like they put life in perspective. Those of us who read the site know that your children are beautiful, loving and loved. And, PS, I used to grab my brother by the ears (they stuck out. a lot. Too tempting) and try to slam his head against the wall. He has no brain damage (that we know of anyway) and even in our 30s, we love each other dearly and joke about those days.

Sabine
13 years ago

Oh I got all melty about little “goat houses”. :) I would imagine it is tricky to blog about family, much in the way that it is difficult for me to blog about my love life or lack thereof (although for completely different reasons).

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