Friday, December 4, 2015


"Mom! I still have homework" he said in an exasperated tone. I swallowed the lecture that was bubbling up and ready to spew out. No good would come of this. I remained silent. We were almost at the high school and roughly 25 -30 minutes behind schedule.

I had the morning all planned out. My car was running on empty so I would pack up the pup and get gas on the way to his doggie daycare. I would then drop Sumter at 7:30 and be able to get to my work by 8:00 a.m. Middle son was supposed to take his brother to school. Somehow Colin decided he wanted to leave 20 minutes later and I would take him.

I told him that I needed to get gas and take Sumter to daycare. Colin responded that he could study in the car. After I filled up I proceeded to head to the doggie daycare and Colin was alarmed. He realized the dog was going to be dropped off first and he would be later than he hoped.

We pulled up to the High School drop off at 7:55. There was a half hour before the official start of the school day. Hopefully my passive-agressive message was received. I won't always change my schedule at the drop of a hat.

There are consequences.

The Rest of The Week

It's already Friday and the week has flown by. Colin is still struggling with a crazy sleep schedule. It is tough to wake him up most mornings. He gathers up papers off the printer, makes his lunch and scurries about. I am becoming the main source of transportation in the mornings. And evenings!

I pick him up after swim practice, around 6:00 p.m. We then drive to pick up the pup from doggie daycare. During the car ride, Colin falls asleep on the back seat and it is tough to get him out of the car when we arrive home. He then promptly goes to either the 1st floor half-bath or the upstairs master bath and falls asleep for a several-hours long nap.

Upon waking up around 10 p.m., he has dinner, retreats to his room and hopefully starts homework. At some point there is a late-late-night snack and lights are left on in the kitchen and basement. At 5:00 a.m.(M,W,F) or 6:00 a.m. (Tu, Th) I find him in his room sleeping behind the couch on his giant stuffed dog, wrapped in a blanket.

After a few attempts, I wake him up and begin the routine all over again.


We are a bit concerned about sleep schedule but are trying to let Colin self-regulate as long as he maintains his good grades (currently a 4.02).  I have noticed a slight backsliding in behavior. There are more frequent shushes and I heard a few "Die!"s this week when he is intruded upon. I also heard at least one "Thank You" after I performed one of my many acts of kindness.

We are remaining calm and steady while Colin navigates a full schedule of school, swimming,  jazz band and quiz team. It is tough to maintain distance to let our son work things out but I believe it to be critical to do so. He will ask for help when he needs it most.

I will try to remain upbeat and grateful.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Finding Remarkable in the Mundane

Another week has been flying by. High school swim season has started and we are getting a new routine in place. While it seems like we are continuing to make progress toward reconciliation, the most noteworthy event is that Colin slept in a bed for the second time since he's been home. Also worth mentioning is that he seems to be opening up more on the car rides home. The trick is to be quiet and listen.

4 Day Weekend

The boys had Thursday and Friday off from school last week. Therefore there were some late nights. Thursday morning I woke up extra early due to a sinus headache and went to the loft (now my 2nd bedroom) to lie down for a bit before getting up to feed the dog and start my day.

As I was about to climb into the bottom bunk bed, I felt a leg and realized there was a body. Apparently after watching videos with his middle-brother in the room they used to share, he was too tired to make the trek to his basement room and collapsed in his former bed which now resides in the loft.

He slept until mid-afternoon until he woke with a panic. Colin burst into his brother's room to wake him. He needed a ride to afternoon swim practice.

When I called home to ask my 17 year old what time I needed to pick his brother up, I was warned. Colin may not be in a great mood.

Good Cop

I inquired why and was told that Colin was complaining that he was going to be late to practice and did not want to be disrespectful to the team. My middle-son launched into a tirade about how he felt disrespected. Not sure what else was said but I was told that it was not pretty.

I replied that I do my best to make the ride pleasant and bring a box filled with a wide variety of snacks. Colin is hungry when I pick him up after workouts and we usually pick the dog up next which extends the trip back home. Middle-son said that I will be a hero next to him.

Sure enough, that afternoon, I had a chatty boy complaining about his older brother. He also told me about his classes and some test scores he was not happy with and hoped to improve on. What I remember most about the conversation is that my son was in a relatively good mood, seemed to appreciate the snacks and was slowly starting to open up more about his life.


The rest of the weekend, I barely saw my miso-son, other than to drive him to a swim practice and a school event with his brother while Dad took the other mini-van into the shop.

Monday was relatively uneventful and Tuesday morning I had a nice surprise. When I went down to his room to wake him, Colin was up and dressed and seemed to be in a great mood. He was just finishing up some homework and told me he had a great night's sleep. "I got around 7 hours last night!" he exclaimed while he got up from his couch and stretched.

This morning was an average early morning. I woke Colin up at 5:15 a.m. so he could get ready for his 6:15 a.m. practice. I had to check in 10 minutes later for a second reminder. I asked if he needed a towel and he said yes. Without asking, I opened his swim bag, removed the wet towel from the day before (he should be doing this when he gets home) and threw his damp swim things into the dryer. I resisted the urge to scold him like I would have done to his brothers and reminded myself how lucky I am to be able to do this for my son.

We rode in silence until we got to the school. We were a little early which gave Colin a chance to tie his shoes and slowly gather his belongings.

As I pulled away from the high school exercise facility, I took a moment for silent gratitude.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Life in Asterisks *****

Recently the first quarter grades for the boys' high school came out. Following close behind was the Honor and Merit Roll List. Both Colin and his middle brother made Honor Roll but Colin had an * next to his name. This meant he was at a 4.0 or above. He is my first boy to achieve this honor and we are quite proud.

I just have to keep reminding myself of this when I want to reprimand my son for his night-owl schedule!

Sleep Schedule

Swim season started this week. This involves 9 practices a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday there is an early morning session that starts at 6:15 a.m. I don't mind being the driver as this allows me to get to work early and have my husband transport the dog to daycare. This is my busy season at work and I need to find ways to have more time in my office.

Last night I could not sleep so I went to the loft so my tossing and turning would not disturb my husband. It was just after 1:00 a.m. and I could hear Colin in his room through the heating vent. The sounds of him yelling out while gaming on his laptop came wafting up the duct work. In four more hours he needed to be up! I was not amused!

I marched down to the basement to find my son still in his school clothes, huddled in front of his computer. I scolded him for being up so late and told him the game needed to end and he should be asleep by now. Colin scoffed at my dismay and told me he had a nap earlier and is fine. I responded with a threat. "If that game is not shut down, I will not wake you to get ready for practice."

I went back upstairs as he continued to play. As I laid back down to try to go to sleep, I noticed the absence of game sounds and soon after he came upstairs to brush his teeth. I decided to cut him a break and wake my son in a few hours. It took two tries and we made it to practice on time.

As much as I wanted to lecture my son, I kept silent and decided to be grateful. Our lives have gotten back to normal*. (*new normal)

Sometimes you just have to suck it up and call the glass half-full. We need to pick and choose our battles. As long as Colin is relatively healthy and getting good grades, I will try to be cautious not to upset the delicate balance of our household.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Tuesday night I had the most delicious cup of soup. It was "Chicken Pot Pie" and had been in the refrigerator since Thursday night. What made it especially tasty was that Colin brought it home for me from his cross-country dinner that night. This act of kindness was truly appreciated and shows that the anger toward my husband and I continues to dissipate. Another bit of progress!

Fall Break 


Eldest came home Wednesday night for a 4-day weekend. It was nice to have him back. I think Colin missed his brother as well. Friday night we went out to dinner sans middle-son, who opted to nap through suppertime and declined our invite. Colin sat next to his big brother and asked about college life. I was happy to see them get along.

The evening went fairly well, other than Colin's constant sniffling. He has been battling a cold for the last week or two. Unfortunately, he ended up missing the last cross-country meet of the season on Saturday due to his illness and went to the doctor instead to make sure he did not have strep throat.

Good news is no strep, however he has a preauricular sinus or ear pit at the top of his ear that was filled with pus. If this continues to happen, he may need ear surgery. He's had this since birth but did not seem to be an issue until recently.

Taxi Driver

Lately I have become a chauffeur for Colin. More often than not, he has me drive him to school. His brother has to leave the house early to be able to drop Colin off at the high school on his way to morning classes at a nearby college.

I've been trying to wake Colin early. He seems to drag his feet and is not ready for his ride yet is ready and raring to go 15-20 minutes later. I'm not sure why. Does he really need those extra minutes?, is he afraid of his brother's driving? does he want to go with me because I usually take the dog in the car or does he want to be with me? Hubs has offered to help drop the dog on these mornings and now that I am getting busier at work, I am taking him up on it. We'll see if we take Sumter out of the equation if this changes things for Colin. It is a bit stressful to have to do drop off AND pick up in the afternoon as this shortens my workday.
Middle-son has play rehearsal after school and this would require Colin to hangout until 6:45 p.m. Thankfully, only a few more weeks left until the production!

I remind myself that we are so lucky that he is doing well in school and seems to be managing at home.
I try to be thankful for the chance to be with my son in a car!

*taking a deep breath and letting go.*

I do have a few concerns.

  • Colin is on a crazy sleep schedule. Upon arriving home after school, there is usually a several-hours-long nap involved, followed by a late-night dinner. His middle-brother does the same thing.

  • Many mornings, I find Colin wrapped in a blanket in his room, either on the floor or the sofa, with books open and lights on. I have no idea how late he is up nor if his homework is done.

  • Lately we've noticed yelling and swearing coming up from Colin's basement room through the air duct. This is happening late at night. A few nights ago my husband noticed this at 1:00 a.m. He went down to check and Colin was up playing a video game. It's not the yelling and swearing that has me concerned as this seems to be part of getting involved in "battle", it's the fact he is up this late on a school night.
Although we are concerned with sleep patterns and gaming on a school night, we are taking a wait and see approach. Colin is maintaining Honor Roll status with a 4.0. He is taking difficult classes and seems to be keeping up. We will keep a watchful eye. At this point we don't want to take any action unless grades start slipping or we start seeing troubling behavior.

Until then.... We are a Work-In-Progress!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Driving Mr.Colin

It seems like lately I've become a bit of a chauffeur to Colin; my mini van his suburban stretch limousine. My car has the stow-n-go seats and I typically have the middle row stowed below for extra transport and storage space. Most days the back bench seat is reserved for taking Sumter to daycare.

Yesterday Colin was running late and told his brother to leave without him. When I got back from my early morning walk with the dog, I was told to hurry up. I quickly got ready for work, put my makeup on and had Sumter hop in the back with Colin. Off we went, with Colin stressing about getting to school late. I remained silent as we pulled up at 7:30, pretty much on time. Even though the pup's leash was attached to a seat belt he managed to get out of the car. Fortunately I was able to coax him in with a treat so Colin could get to his locker with plenty of time to spare.

The afternoon was another trip down to school to pick up my son as his brother had play practice followed by a piano lesson. Colin hopped in the car and seemed to be in a good mood. Turns out he wasn't feeling in great shape so he skipped cross country practice and went to his quiz team practice instead.

He asked about his puppy and I told him we were going to pick up Sumter on our way home. He then started to tell me about a video game he wanted. "It's only $15...." I asked about it and my son was more than happy to tell me all about a game called "Counter Strike Global Offensive" by Valve Corp. He described it to be similar to Call of Duty and it has been around for awhile. Apparently some of his friends at school are into it.

That's all I needed to hear. I told him that it should be o.k. but he needed to ask his dad.

Once we picked up Sumter and headed home, Colin fell asleep in the car. He was pretty groggy and went right to sleep on the couch once inside our home. After taking care of the dog, I also took a nap. At 8:00 p.m., Colin woke up in a panic. He yelled out, "Oh No!"  "Why did you let me sleep so long!" I think he thought it was morning and that he was going to be late for school.


Different day, same start. Colin had a hard time getting ready for school and I ended up having to drive him. This time I arranged for hubs to get the dog to daycare. We were concerned that Colin may have been up late playing his new game. As we were heading out, I asked if he had bought the game yet. Turns out he needed to ask his dad some questions so no, he did not purchase it with his pre-paid Visa card that dad gave him.

Colin told me a bit more about the game. After a few moments of silence, I pushed my luck and asked another question. "Is there a game tonight?" to which he replied with a "Shush!" That was my cue to be quiet. I was silent the rest of the ride.

I pulled up and opened the door at the drop off point, Colin made it to school on time. Another fairly successful trip. Truth be told, I don't mind the drive. It gives me that chance to be in the same space as my son for a brief period. Something I did not know would be possible in the not-to-distant past.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

An Apology of Sorts

Last night I wanted to finish Colin's laundry from the night before. I had a bucket of whites. He was in the shower so I loaded the washer and waited for him to get out of the bathroom.

As he was finishing up, I knocked on the door and asked for any additional whites he might need laundered.
I made one last attempt when he was in his room. I was shushed and told to go away both times. I heeded his warnings and started the machine with what was already loaded.

Later that evening, while the clothes were in the dryer, Colin was upstairs again to talk to his brother. On the way back down the stairs, he poked his head into the loft area where I was watching t.v.

He mumbled something about being stressed-out about some classwork , which is why he did not want to answer my questions earlier.

I told him that his clothes should be ready to be taken out of the dryer. I swear I heard him mutter "Thanks."

Hard to tell. I do think he was trying to be conciliatory. Another bit of progress, for which I am grateful.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Change of Pace

This has been a busy weekend with an interesting development.

Friday Night Lights 

Friday capped off a largely uneventful week, other than I've had to drive Colin more than normal due to a few scheduling conflicts. By Friday, I felt like a well-seasoned taxi driver with a record of four round trips in one day to the High School.
Trip 1: Boys running late and Middle Brother did not have enough time for drop off on his way to his morning off-campus classes.
Trip 2: Pick up after school. Colin had cross-country practice and his brother had to go to a piano lesson.
Trip 3: Drop Colin off to his school's Friday Night Football Game. This theme was "Black Out" where the clothing was to be all black. My son looked like a ninja other than his black & white striped knit cap. (he couldn't find his black one).
Trip 4: Pick up from football game

The benefit to all this driving is that Colin has been more chatty lately and I get to learn more about school. The most interesting tidbit is that he wants to start wearing his glasses again as he realizes he needs them to see in class. He is far-sighted and probably needs them for reading and seeing up close. This might be effecting his test-taking abilities...

Saturday On the Run

I woke up to take care of Sumter to find Colin sleeping on the living room couch again. I've caught two crickets (one in his room, another just outside his door) in a week. They seem to be getting in the basement through some gaps in the foundation and floorboards and disturbing my son. When Colin has been staying in his room at night he rolls up a blanket to block the crack under the door.

The race that Colin was in did not start until 12:30 and for the first time this season, he added two minutes to his time for a PW of the year. (personal worst). A few factors may have affected his performance. He ate poorly the night before and loaded up on donuts at the game. He went to bed around 2:00 and did not get enough sleep. After the race Colin had complained about getting a cramp mid-way through the race.

Upon coming home, he passed out as usual. Later that evening he fell asleep in our bathroom with the lights and fan running. This has been a relatively recent phenomenon.

The bathroom fan used to be a trigger sound but now it does not seem to effect him. The past several weeks upon coming home from running practice, he will fall asleep for a few hours in the bathroom after taking his shower. My middle-son will nap for the same amount of time in his room. The boys then will wake up between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. for a late dinner and then homework. It is a hard cycle to break.

Sunday Morning

Upon waking up early Sunday Morning, we noticed that someone was in our bathroom; we could hear the fan running and see the light from under the door. Hubs woke up Colin, helped him off the floor and asked if he would like to lay down in his Eldest brother's room. He groggily replied in the affirmative. Dad assisted in walking him down the hall and onto his brother's bed where he fell back into his sleep-coma. This was the first time since he has been home and probably in three years since he has slept in a bed!

Late that morning I checked in to see if he wanted to go to the Parade of Homes (new home tour) with us. To which he replied no and went back to sleep.

Early that evening when I finally saw my son again, he was still in his pajamas. He meandered about, snuggled the dog and had a meal (not sure if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner). I asked if he had done his laundry and he grunted a bit. I asked if he needed help to which he replied, "Maybe". I offered to do his laundry and he took me up on it.

For some reason this made me happy. This was a way I could show my motherly love and by letting me help him,  in some strange way, I felt loved back.

As always.... we are a work-in-progress.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Another Decent Weekend!

As time goes on, we continue to see progress with Colin.

Friday night was yet another home game for the football team. This time the theme was Camouflage as a nod to the troops. Middle-son decided to stay home as he had the ACT's the next day and wanted to be in good shape. He did loan his brother a camo-paintball suit and matching cap. Colin asked for opinions on his get-up which I thought looked fine (although he was swimming in the XL suit!). I loaned him a pair of my combat boots which seemed to fit him! I wear an 8 1/2 women's and he is currently a men's size 7 which is about the same size other than the width. I was even allowed to take a photo!

He politely asked for a ride and I dropped him off in front of the stadium. A half-hour before he wanted to be picked up, he called home and was again cordial and clear about timing. This trip was performed by my husband and again went smoothly.

Off to the Races

Saturday morning I was up at my usual 6:00 a.m. for dog duties and middle-son was up and getting ready for his ACT exam. Colin was fast asleep on the living room couch. Not sure if he had another bug issue in his room but at least he seemed to be sleeping soundly.

After the dog was fed and walked, I went to work for a few hours to complete a project. When I arrived back home later that morning, Colin had retreated to his room. His weekly cross country meet was not until later that afternoon.

When middle-son came back home, I took him out for lunch while hubs went with Colin to the meet. It gave us a chance to catch up as well as spending a bit of quality time. I wanted to hear about Colin's progress at school as well as make sure my son knows he is appreciated for helping with his baby brother.

I was concerned about Colin getting along at school and having friends. My 17 year old assured me that Colin is well-liked and is happy and is not afraid to speak his mind.  He is known for being cute and funny, although sometimes his humor is unintentional.

Viva La France!

I was given a recent example. Middle-son heard the same story from several different sources.

There is a new student who has a locker near Colin. Apparently he spoke with what seemed to be a fake accent and our son found it annoying. A hallway exchange was overheard by several boys.

"Dude, you gotta cut this annoying sh*t out; speaking in a fake accent like you are from France or something!"

"But I AM from France!"

"Whatever...."  as he shook his head and walked away.

Colin had unknowingly insulted the new exchange student from France!


Another Personal Best 

The meet went well and Colin shaved another 30 seconds off his time. He collapsed on the couch after arriving home and later spent yet another night in the living room. I was not able to get an a clear answer if there was a problem in his room, like bugs. It is encouraging that our son is able to spend more time upstairs as the year goes on.

Sunday was anther uneventful day. I had very little interaction with Colin. He spent most of the day in his room. 

His behavior has been much better as well. This does not mean he is trigger-free but he seems to be coping better. At this point we are still subjected daily to "shushes" which I don't really consider bad behavior. I take this as a warning that he does not want to hear any conversation. We try to comply as best as possible.

And it seems to be working.

We are a work-in-progress!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Late Start

I woke this morning to the sounds of my middle-son's clock-alarm going off down the hall. After a few minutes I was able to sit up and focus my eyes on my clock. It was 5:15 a.m. I laid back down and rested for a bit, until 6:00 a.m.

I went about my morning routine. I took Sumter out for a pee and then down to Colin's room. The door was open a crack; enough for me to see. His alarm was going off and playing static ocean sounds. I could see books and papers scattered about on the sofa. Colin was asleep on the giant stuffed dog behind the couch.

I let Sumter in to give his usual morning greeting,  to which Colin replied, "Get out!" Up we went and I fed the pup his breakfast and took him for his morning jaunt around the block. Upon our return, I checked in with middle-son to see if his brother was awake and getting ready. I was told that he had an agreement with Colin about what time he needed to be ready to leave. My high-school senior is taking morning classes at a nearby college and needed to leave no later than 6:45 a.m. to be able to drop Colin at school on the way to first class.

I performed another check on Colin. The light was on and I was warned to "Go away!"

Driving Mr. Colin

At 6:45, I heard the warning, "Come on Colin, I am leaving!". After another couple of attempts, my driver took off, leaving his surly younger brother behind. I sprung into action. I made plans with hubs, who was still in bed, to take Sumter to daycare so that I could go in the opposite direction to drop off Colin. I then proceeded to finish getting ready for work while Colin shouted, "Hurry up! We need to leave in five minutes!"

I found it ironic, more like hypocritical, that while I was finishing getting ready, my son kept yelling at me to hurry up, as if he was ready to rush out the door. Only he wasn't even close. He rushed upstairs to brush his teeth, still barking orders. Then back down stairs, scurrying about and gathering up his supplies for the day.
We ended up being ready to leave about the same time. I was ready to give a lecture and stopped myself. No good would come of this, so instead I remained silent.

I started the car, turned off the radio and asked, "Do you have everything?" to which the answer was , "Yes! LET"S GO!"

And off we went! I may have taken a few corners a bit faster than prudent and accelerated more quickly than usual. As I could hear things sliding about the back of the car, I'm pretty sure I made it clear that I WAS hurrying and did not need any more reminders.

We made good time and arrived at school at 7:20 a.m. As I pulled up to the drop-off, I held my breath and was prepared for one last barrage. I pushed the button to open the side door and Colin collected his things. Before he left, he said. "Could you please wake me up next time?".

I said, "Sure. What time?" and he replied, " Around 5:00 ish".

"Sure!" I answered back as I closed the door and took off.

I took a deep breath and adjusted my perspective. My son ASKED for help. This is about as close to a "Thank You" as I was going to receive. To which I am grateful.

As always....We are a work-in-progress!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor Day Weekend

Summer has unofficially come to a close with the celebration of Labor Day and a three day weekend. Even though the weekend was pretty low-key, it went by pretty quickly. And thankfully peacefully.

Friday afternoon eldest got a ride back home from his roommate's family. He has now completed two weeks of college. Colin and his middle-brother arrived home an hour or so later and began their preparations for another Friday Night Football game at their school. This time the theme was a Hawaiian one. We had to take a trip out to my work where I was storing leis, and tropical party supplies left over from their brother's graduation party. They were wearing sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts that I bought them to wear for Eldest's party. They looked pretty cute and I could not help but smile.

Saturday was another cross country meet. Colin had a slightly tough time getting up that morning and slept for the half-hour ride to the course. He did well and shaved a tiny bit of time off his prior weeks' performance. Afterwards we went straight home and he fell into another "sleep coma".  I did not see much of him for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning, Hubs, Eldest, Colin and I went to Bob Evan's for breakfast. Middle-son had his last day of the year at his life guarding job and was unable to join us. We had a nice meal and Colin seemed happy to catch up with his brother about life away at college. He did not seem to take notice of all the ceiling fans whirling about. Upon our return home, we all went about our tasks for the day. Hubs continued work on the kitchen, I did some yard work then took eldest out to run a few errands and Colin retreated to his room, presumably for some video games.

Sunday evening, Hubs, Middle-son and Colin went to see the Minion Movie while Eldest and I stayed behind. The boys seemed to have a nice evening out and were in good spirits.

All good things must come to an end. Monday afternoon, I drove Eldest and his roommate back to school; a four hour round trip.  When I returned, I found that brotherly love had momentarily run out and there was a bit of a disagreement brewing. Middle-son was angry at Colin and hid his laptop. I inquired about the offense. Turns out it was pretty minor. Colin was in the bathroom and refused to answer a question that his brother yelled through the door. He may have either shushed or told his brother to shut-up. I can't blame my son for wanting to take care of "business" in peace. Middle-son was angry at what he thought was disrespect.

I  firmly asked what he did with his brother's computer and was told it was in the basement. I gave Colin 5 minutes to find it and if he could not, I would intervene. When I went downstairs to check, Colin claimed he did not find it. I looked and could not see it either, even when being told the hiding spot.

I demanded that my older boy come down immediately and fetch it. When he angrily marched down to show me where he put his brother's computer, it was not where he left it. He then went to Colin's room to face his sneaky younger sibling. I trailed behind.

Although Colin was wearing an innocent expression, it was clear he found and re-hid his laptop to get back at his brother. All I could do was shake my head... and be thankful that this was a normal sibling tiff.

As always.... we are a work-in-progress!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Off to a Good Start

Last week flew by. So far the boys seem to be in a good routine and I barely see them. I've been asked to sign papers and given snippets of information. I've also been subjected to a few soft "shushes" and a couple of  "hate messages". This is communicated through the dog such as Colin in his usual sing-songy voice, "Kill her" or "Sumter says he hates you" while he is petting his dog. As these are non-disruptive, I either laugh or ignore it. Not sure why he does this. I can't tell if he was triggered, in a bad mood, jealous over the time I spend with "his" dog or just joking. We've been through so much worse, this is hardly worth mentioning other than to point out that this is the extent of the bad behavior we now see.

Friday Night Lights

Friday night, I came home to the two younger boys in the basement painting white t-shirts with washable paint.   I was warned not to let the dog down there. They were getting ready for the first football game of the season at their high school. Each game has a theme and that night was "America". The boys were adorning their tees with red, white & blue images.

After Sumter was fed and walked, I curled up on the couch with the pup. As I was chilling out, I could hear Colin in the bathroom cursing. He seemed to be talking to a group, addressing them as "bitches". I couldn't make out what was being said other than a bunch of profanities. As he walked into the living room, I said "What?" to make sure he was not talking to me earlier. He calmly looked at me with a blank expression, as if the brief curse-word laden soliloquy I overheard never happened.

Soon after middle-son was upstairs and they were having a contest as to who could talk "creepier". I later asked my 17 year old if everything was o.k. in school and explained my concern that Colin may have had a run-in with some boys. Middle-son assured me that he knew of no such event and his brother seemed fine.

Several hours later they came home from the game and seemed to have a great time. It has been reassuring to see the boys getting on so well.

Meet and Greet

Saturday morning was the first cross country meet of the season. Hubs and I packed up the dog and Colin while middle-son had to go to work. Colin has made Sumter the team mascot and takes pride in showing him off to the boys. Unfortunately this meet had a no-dogs-allowed policy and we had to watch from the perimeters with the other dogs. Colin has improved over last year and was in the middle of the pack as opposed to one of the last. He also is a few inches taller and no longer the smallest.

Upon arriving home, he collapsed on the couch and fell into a deep sleep. I had a friend who was in town with his 8 year old son visiting family and had made arrangements to have a pool day at my sister's house. As I mentioned in my last post, our house is not in shape for company due to our first floor makeover in progress. Luckily my friend's family lives close to my sister and my sister has an open-door policy!

Unable to wake Colin up, I took the dog and went to my sister's. A few hours later, Colin, hubs and middle-son came out. We had a nice afternoon and the "problem child" turned out to be Sumter. Towards dinnertime, my sister had several friends arrive for a potluck/cookout and our pup started to growl at a few of the guests. Other than that, we had a nice time for most of the evening.

Middle-son had to leave early for a babysitting gig and my nephew had some friends over. This made Colin the odd-man out and after a while he was bored. We had to leave before I had wanted, just before 8:30 p.m.. Our son was becoming agitated and had been sitting in the car for 10 minutes before I was done with my goodbyes. Once safely at home, we went our separate ways. I passed out early due to consuming two glasses of wine.

Sunday was our day to recuperate and get ready for the week ahead.

So far the week has been relatively uneventful as a routine is getting set. The boys get up early, I have to help make sure Colin is awake. After a bit of rushing about they are out the door between 6:30 - 6:45 a.m. Colin has cross country practice after school. My early birds arrive home before I do and fall into a coma. I usually don't see them until an hour or so before my bedtime where they have a late dinner together.

Many parents are heartbroken that they are not able to share quality time with their miso-child. I on the other hand feel that less is more. I rather have brief encounters that are not unpleasant. I am content to observe from a distance and see that my son is relatively content. It does my heart good to see my boys getting along. I feel so very lucky.....

We are a work-in-progress!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

School Daze

I woke up this morning at 4:53 a.m. My husband was rustling around and slightly awake. I told him that Colin wanted to be woken up at 5:00 a.m. and was told to let him sleep. At 5:10, I crawled out of bed as I heard my middle-son's alarm going off. I peaked in his room. My 17 year old was a bit groggy but in the process of getting out of bed. I then proceeded to go downstairs.

The dog awoke and was stretching. He followed me to the top of the basement stairs. The lights were on but I did not hear any signs that Colin was awake until we started to descend down to his room. Half-way down, I heard his voice.

"I'm awake!"

We turned around. I took the pup out for a pee and then gave him his breakfast. Colin scurried up the stairs, wide-awake, fully dressed for school and seemed to be in a good mood. He cheerfully greeted his dog and went about eating his breakfast and packing his school lunch.

Soon it would be time to leave for the first day of school!

The Send Off

Last Wednesday, Eldest left to start his freshman year at a university that is two hours from our home. We had a family dinner the night before at a nice restaurant and then milkshakes from Sonic for dessert. The younger two were in great spirits. They have been plotting on having a great school year now that middle-son would be a senior and the designated driver to school.

Wednesday evening while hubs was helping our oldest move in his dorm, the other boys came with me to pick my niece up from the airport and shuttle her to her new dorm for the year at a college near our home.

We had a nice dinner at a campus pizza joint and then on to the dorm. Colin stayed in the car with me while middle-son helped his cousin check in.

There was a bit of a key-card snafu which resulted in my being stuck for a half hour in my car with Colin in the back seat. He was surprisingly chatty.

He told me he had the best day. When I asked why, I found out that he slept until 4 p.m. He was up until 2:00 a.m. and had 14 hours of sleep. He continued to talk about the upcoming school year and his class plan. He wanted to change from Pre-Calculus to Calc AB and would need parental consent to do so. Truthfully most of the conversation was not that memorable. What made the strongest impression on me was the fact he seemed relaxed and happy. I was reminded of the good old days when my son was able to sit and talk to me. My heart was full!

Weekend Visits

I was feeling guilty about not helping with the move and being able to see my eldest's dorm room. I decided to take a trip Saturday to go visit. Originally Colin said he thought he'd like to go. He was interested in seeing his brother's campus and room. When the time came to leave, Colin was groggy and decided to stay home with the dog and his middle brother. Maybe next time....

Sunday, my brother and his wife came for a short visit after helping their daughter with her dorm room. We had a nice visit other than the house being in a shambles. We are in the middle of a kitchen and half bath remodel. Colin was fairly social and the difference in his demeanor from a year ago was remarkable.

The First Day of School

Back to the first day of school which started so very early. The day seemed to be a success. Both boys were exhausted. I did get enough information to know that all went well.

I am so very hopeful for a great rest of the year. It has been a struggle but we are finally starting to see the fruits of our labor.

As always.... we are a work in progress!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Gaming Theory - Part 2

We had yet another rather successful weekend.

Saturday afternoon, I packed up Colin, the dog and Eldest and headed out. We dropped Eldest off at his job and then ventured on to my sister's house. I wanted to get some pool time as well as drop off a bucket of tomatoes from the garden.

After we dropped eldest off, Colin asked politely if I could turn the radio off. Eldest likes to listen to the radio and will take control of the stations. Colin has a healthy respect for his brother and is reluctant to give any signs of being bothered. His eldest brother is convinced that Colin is fine now. Unfortunately I know better. At least Colin seems able to cope.

I looked for any other signs of distress during the car ride but found none. The trip and visit went smoothly. I got to visit with my sister and her swimming pool and Colin spent most of his time with his cousin playing video games.

Sunday was another family day. We spent time with my husband's family. Colin went with his eldest brother early so that they could swim with their cousins at a club. My husband and I went later to his sister's house for dinner and some time with our visiting relatives.

Another great day. Colin seems to be more comfortable with family gatherings and appeared to have a great time!

Yesterday morning I heard another segment on NPR while driving the pup to daycare. I am really excited that my theory about complex video games may have some merit!

As always....We are a work-in-progress!

This story is about video games to help with neurological disorders applying for FDA approval.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Gaming Theory

Another successful week and weekend. Time has been flying by and school will start soon. This past weekend was a tax-free school supply holiday and I tried to take advantage of this. I took eldest on Saturday night and Colin on Sunday (yesterday) afternoon.

As I continue my policy of minimal intrusion with Colin, I am seeing results. Other than a few shushes when he is in a "mood" and does not want to hear talking or a "get out of my room" when checking in on him, our sparse interactions have been pleasant. Colin said "Yes" to a shopping trip yesterday afternoon and later that evening we went out to eat with eldest and my husband. Middle-son was tired from work and wanted to nap. Colin was in a relatively good mood and both events were enjoyable.

I've had several parents in my Parent Support Group ask about our method for helping our son improve. I mention a few things: 1. The Sound-Proofed Room  2. Allowing him to get a dog 3. "Detachment Parenting" (ie. leaving him the hell alone as much as possible) and 4. Video Games (Colin is able to play video games in the noisy part of the basement even when the laundry machines are going).

This morning I heard a story on NPR which reinforces my crazy theory that when engrossed in an activity that is enjoyable and requires a high amount of concentration, triggers can be tuned out. While my son refused to try Neurofeedback, I feel that video games may have the same effect in helping with triggers.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Normalest of Normals

The expression, "Normal is Boring" does not apply in my world. In fact, "Normalcy" rocks my universe. Last night was so freaking normal, I could almost cry. I am still so locked-up emotionally, the best I could manage was a small lump in my throat and a warm feeling in my heart.

Eldest will be leaving for college in 2 weeks. We need to start shopping for school clothes. Colin has been sprouting up a bit and could use some new clothing as well. My middle-son and husband had an event to go to. I decided to take the other two boys to a nearby outlet store.

We pulled up to the warehouse just in time for closing. I had thought the store was open later. We decided to go on to Great Clips, so Colin could get a much-needed haircut and then on to dinner.

After a bit of a debate with my eldest, we decided to go to Bob Evan's for dinner. Colin seemed to be in a relative calm mood and was fairly agreeable about our choice of venue. We had a relaxed dinner and the boys conversed about the upcoming school year. I was content to sit and bask in the aura of "normal-ness".

Toward the end of our meal, Eldest noticed a fellow summer "swim mom" at the counter getting take-out. We waved and she stopped by our table to say hello before leaving with her order. In addition to having a son, the same age of eldest, she also has a boy who was a former classmate and teammate of Colin. The fellow swim-mom is one of the few outside of our family who knew about Colin's story. She chatted for a few short minutes but did not speak directly to Colin.

I was amazed that my son hid any discomfort he may have had, as he tries to avoid anyone from his past to escape any uncomfortable questions. Even more remarkable is as I looked around, after our friend left, I noticed all the ceiling fans twirling around on the ceiling. I did not detect even the slight flinch or annoyance from my miso-son!

Last Weekend - Another Normalcy High

Adding to my "Normalcy High", was a couple of successful family outings last weekend.

Saturday night my husband, middle-son, Colin & I went to a late-night showing of  "Train Wreck". Not exactly the most family-friendly movie but I never claimed to be a great parent. On any day I will throw "Family Values" out the window in lieu of a slice of  "peaceful pie".

We arrived at the theatre early. Colin and his brother got a XXL bucket of popcorn and a couple of jumbo drinks as well. The boys like to add butter-flavored salt to their favorite movie treat. Apparently Colin was a little too generous with the salt which was centered in the pile of popped corn. I unknowingly grabbed a handful from the center and was rewarded with a mouthful of salt. The boys laughed as I grimaced and Colin offered me a sip of his drink. I was amazed at this gesture. We have come a long way!

(please note that movies are not an issue for us like other miso-families as mouth and eating noises do not seem to annoy my son)

Sunday afternoon, Colin, Sumter and I went out for a visit to my sister's house. Colin spent much of the time there playing video games with his cousin while the dogs played and I hung out by the pool with my sister and brother-in-law. We stayed for dinner before heading back.

What a difference a year makes. We are doing so much better than I ever dreamed possible. In a couple of short years I have gone from one of the most pitied parents in my parent support group to one of the luckiest.

I have no idea what the future holds and I am more than content to hang on to moments like these....

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Quiet Please... A Project Worth Supporting

Filmmaker Jeffrey Gould is undertaking a project to make a documentary about Misophonia and the toll it takes on lives, families and relationships. He is running a campaign for funding on IndieGoGo .

Please consider a donation to this worthy cause. There are some great Perks besides the ultimate goal of spreading awaremess!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Weekend of Normalcy

The last few weeks have flown by. Graduation party for the eldest, working on a kitchen remodel, and not much out of the ordinary to report. I sometimes forget how far we have come until I am reminded by either my sister or by reading old posts in this blog.

The boys have been busy with activities. The older two have work and swimming. Colin has been going to cross country practices and recently finished up a SAT review class. The new X-Box has also been getting a workout with Colin and his middle brother. Having two teen boys that can drive has been a lifesaver for our family. The boys can be left home alone during the day and are fairly self-sufficient.

I have decided to continue with weekday doggie daycare for Sumter. I know from last year, that our pup will be largely ignored other than mealtime and bathroom breaks. I have found that Sumter is easier to manage when he has had a full day playing with other dogs and comes home worn out. Our beloved pooch has been instrumental in Colin's reintegration into our home. I am committed to providing the best care possible for him.

Almost Like Old Times

This weekend has been one of the most "normal" since our son has been back.Friday night, Colin and his Dad went shopping for new running shoes. Saturday night Colin came along with me to pick his brother up from work.  We got take-out from Wendy's then stopped at the grocery store on the way home. The boys stayed in the car while I purchased  a few necessities.

Later that night, Colin mentioned that he might want to go running around the neighborhood. He was feeling guilty about missing Friday's cross country practice and wanted to test out his new shoes. I looked at the clock and it was almost midnight. I mentioned that it was late and not a good idea. I realize that he does not want to run into anyone he knows from his middle-school days. The stigma from his interrupted school year still hangs over his head.

Sunday afternoon, while I was mowing the back yard, Colin, Sumter and hubs came out back. I took a break and we all sat down. Dad decided to take Colin down to his high school so he could run the team's usual path. As we relaxed and chatted for a bit, my husband and I exchanged glances. Not a word needed to be uttered to know what the other was thinking. We were having a "normal" boring day. And we were ecstatic!

To top things off, we made plans to go out for a Sunday family dinner. The WHOLE family. After some deliberation we decided on a nearby restaurant. Colin and his middle brother wore sunglasses. For my 17 year old, he was making a fashion statement. As for Colin, I believe this was for protection, in case he ran into someone he used to know.

Dinner Confessional

The coast was clear with not one familiar face in the restaurant and dinner was relaxed. The boys bantered about. My middle son mentioned his upcoming trip with me to NYC. Just the two of us are going on a mini vacation to visit family, take in a couple of college visits and see a play that my nephew is in. To my surprise, Colin mentioned that he might want to go. His middle brother mentioned that it was too late, tickets were already purchased. I mentioned that we can take another trip with him.

Truth be told, this would have been a very bad idea. While I am encouraged that Colin was interested in going with us, I know he is not ready. Until he is able to openly talk about his sound issues, there is too much room for things to go terribly wrong.

However, we may be seeing baby-steps in the right direction. In the course of our dinner conversation, my middle-son mentioned that he is slightly OCD. He and his eldest brother got into a debate about this when Colin chimed in.

"You know." he piped up, " I was diagnosed with OCD". There then was a bit of silent hesitation and we all dropped the topic. This was the first time our son had mentioned something from his hospitalization. While he was never formally diagnosed with any disorder, this was one of many possibilities mentioned.

We are all being careful to avoid mentioning anything from "the year that is not to be spoken of". We don't want to spook Colin. I have found that if you focus on listening and not reacting, every now and again a snippet of information will slip out.


As always we are a work-in-progress!

Friday, June 26, 2015

23andMe & Misophonia

A short time ago,  the evening of Thursday, Jun 11 to be exact, I was lounging on the couch, watching television when my husband walks into the room.

"Did you get my email?" he inquired.

When I asked for a little more information, he told me to just go read it. I begrudgingly went to my computer to retrieve his message, more than a little irritated that he could not just tell me.

When I pulled up the message in question, I about fell out of my chair. I could not believe what I was seeing:

If this email isn’t displaying correctly, view it in your browser.

Sensitive to Certain Sounds?

The genetics behind the hatred of sound

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You are receiving this email because you are a customer of 23andMe.

 I was stunned. I was then told to read part two. I am pasting parts of it below. It is important to note that 23andMe would have no way of knowing our issues with our son. The significance is HUGE. The power of "Big Data" in the form of customer surveys makes a case for a significant percent of our population having this disorder. This may be the breakthrough that is needed to get researchers and the medical community to take notice.

And now, the rest of the story from 23andMe:

Sensitivity to the Sound of Chewing (Misophonia)

Are you annoyed by everyday noises such as the sound of other people chewing? You may have a mild case of misophonia: literally a "hatred of sound". Misophonia can be brought on by a variety of sounds made by other people including breathing, nail clipping, footsteps, and, most commonly, eating. About 20% of 23andMe customers describe themselves as "filled with rage" by the sound of other people chewing, suggesting that misophonia may be quite common. Furthermore, female 23andMe customers are almost 30% more likely to report this sensitivity than male customers. Unfortunately, misophonia has not been well studied by scientists and very little is known about its causes. An internal study at 23andMe, however, shows that genetics may play a role.

Keep in mind that:
  • This report describes study findings observed in groups of people. The findings may not be representative of you as an individual.
  • The genetic markers reported here are associated with normal variation and generally have very small effects on the trait.
  • Many factors besides those described here may influence this trait.

Genotype Genetic Result

GG Slightly higher odds of being sensitive to the sound of chewing..

AG Typical odds of being sensitive to the sound of chewing.

AA Slightly lower odds of being sensitive to the sound of chewing.

For More Information, See 23andMe June 4 Blog Post:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Happy "Gotcha Day"

Today is "Gotcha Day". It is the one year anniversary of getting our puppy and bringing our son back home. It was a nerve wracking experience, not unlike bringing a newborn baby home. We had just finished building the sound-proofed room in the basement. It was the start of Summer vacation. We had no idea how reintegration would go.

Would the changes to our house be enough? Could our son be able to live peacefully with us? Would he reestablish a relationship with his brothers?

Today is also my middle son's birthday. Last year was not a great one. All of our focus was on our youngest who not only got a new room but a puppy on his brother's birthday.

Birthday Celebration

Today we had so much to celebrate. We made a big deal over my 17 year-old's special day. After he came home from work, we went out to dinner. Then back home for cake and gifts.

Colin has seemed very interested lately in coming up with suggestions for gifts for his brothers. He's been asking what we were planning to give our eldest for high school graduation as well as showing an interest in what his middle brother was going to get for his birthday. When I asked what he thought we should do, a video game system was suggested for both. This is not a good idea for a soon-to-be college student but was duly noted for our middle-son.

The younger two wanted a certain game which is only out for the X-Box 1(newest X-Box). Hubs went all out & bought the new system with the game and an extra controller for the birthday boy. Middle-son was so excited we got big hugs. Colin was just as excited and surprised me with jumping in for a group hug. (the 1st in 2 years). He is upstairs now, in his brother's room helping set up the system. This is by far the happiest our house has been in a long time! 

Year-End Review

For the most part, Colin seems to be behaving like a fairly normal teen. The school year was fairly successful. Colin has been maintaining Honor Roll status and appears to be happy at his new school. He is famous for his study guides and has a group of friends he has been sharing study notes with.

My husband and I have been careful to limit our interactions with our son to allow Colin to initiate most conversation. He is most irritable in the mornings and I am careful not to make eye-contact and to steer clear of my son if possible. Since his return home, Colin has been able to control his reactions to former triggers so that it is hard to know what still bothers him. He is so good that his eldest brother thinks Colin is fine now.

Unfortunately I know that is not the case. Recently I had to pick Colin up from a volunteer gig and it started to rain. I heard a squeeking sound and looked in my rear view mirror to see what it might be. Turns out I left my back wipers on. I caught a glimpse of Colin with a towel over his head. I have not seen this behavior in the past year and am fairly sure this is his way to cope with the windshield wipers.

He also mutters under his breath. I recently caught a few swear words during a car trip. I am choosing to ignore this behavior. I have exceptionally good hearing and I believe this to be a coping mechanism.

As we begin this Summer break, we have much to be grateful for. Our boys seem to be getting along well. Colin will be taking a Summer gym course as well as a SAT-prep class. Cross country practice should be starting soon as well.

Fingers crossed for a routine Summer where Normal shall be celebrated at every chance.

As always, We are a Work-In-Progress.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Report

It seems like we have settled into a new normal. It has been almost a month since my last report. It has been relatively peaceful at home. I try to keep my interactions with Colin to a minimum and let him initiate most conversation. This seems to work.

Play time

When Colin needs something, he will ask. A week ago he mentioned that there was a play at school that he could earn extra credit in a class if he went to see it.He apologized for the short notice and I offered to drive him. On the way to the school, Colin told me that the show was only about an hour or so and I decided to stay. He sat near some classmates and I moved further down the row so not to stigmatize him. I held my breath on the way home while using turn signals but have seen no reaction so far to former triggers.

Shopping Trip

Friday Night was "Mom Prom", followed by Junior / Senior Prom on Saturday night. My middle-son agreed to escort me to the dinner dance, He also had a date for the prom. He decided against renting a tux and we agreed that a new suit would do.

Tuesday, we went shopping for a suit for my son and a new dress for me at Macy's. Luckily we both found outfits but my son needed his suit pants hemmed. I arranged to come back Thursday night to pick up the suit. Upon the return home I found that Colin needed new pants as he seems to be going through a much-needed growth spurt.. He and his eldest brother also needed haircuts and I took them that night.

Thursday evening, I asked Colin if he wanted to come with me to the store to pick up the suit so he could find some slacks. He said, "Sure" and hopped in the car with me. I had the radio on and I could hear him "Shush". I peered into the rear-view mirror and he looked uncomfortable. I asked if he wanted the radio turned off and he said "Sure".

When we got to Macy's I instructed Colin to go to the boy's department while I took care of picking up the suit and looking for a wrap for my dress. I returned to find Colin had picked out two pairs of dress slacks and was ready to check out. I was so excited that not only did he find school-appropriate pants on his own, they were also on sale. I neglected to look at the washing instructions. My husband was none too pleased that these were dry-clean only. We will have to remind Colin to change his clothes when he comes home as he will play with the dog and sometimes sleep in his school clothes.

Other Tidbits

We have started to consider building a new home on land we have owned for over 16 years. We've been looking at model homes to get ideas.

A few weeks ago my husband and I saw a model that was close to what we wanted. I took the boys out to see the home to get their opinions. Colin has indicated that he would be fine with a room in the basement with no windows. I was pretty sure he would like this home. As we headed into the lower level, there was a ceiling fan twirling in the main area. Colin immediately went to the wall switches and fumbled to turn it off. His middle-brother saw what was happening and jumped in to help.

We both noticed that Colin seemed agitated and immediately left the vicinity and headed back upstairs. We instinctively knew that Colin needed some time to regain his composure. This is the first time since Colin has been back home that I was sure that I witnessed a triggered reaction. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I had validation that he still was affected by triggers and that he was able to control his reactions to some degree. On the other hand, I was dismayed at his discomfort.

Speaking of discomfort, we have an issue with the basement room. Bugs. We have the normal amount that you would expect in a basement. Unfortunately more than is acceptable in a sleeping room.We will vacuum bugs up when they are spotted but the ick-factor remains.

 Colin slept on the living room couch last night. He had mentioned to his middle-brother that he might want to take over his eldest brother's room when he goes off to college in the fall. Not sure how that will work out, we'll have to wait and see.

I am encouraged that there has been some progress toward reconciliation, although we still have a ways to go. We are much better off than we were a year ago and for that I am extremely grateful!

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekend Update

As Spring Break was coming to a close, I had to stay over at my sister's house Saturday night. She had to attend an out-of-town event with her husband and her 17 year old son wanted to stay behind. He also wanted to have a few friends sleep over. I was to watch over the house and dog and make sure both were still standing when my sister and brother-in-law returned.

Colin ended up coming with me so he could visit with the dog. We haven't been to the house for a while and Colin may have ready for a change of scenery after a week of being mostly house-bound.

While we did not speak during the half-hour car ride and had minimal contact at the house, the trip was a success. When my son was finally ready for dinner, he asked me if I could pick up Wendy's for him. He also helped me with the t.v. in the family room as I did not know how to figure out all the steps to making it work.

At one point, one of my sister's friends came to visit and Colin sat with us in the living room and participated in our conversation. I was so impressed with how normal it all seemed. When my son was out of earshot, the  friend congratulated me on the progress.

Colin stayed camped-out in the living room with his laptop and blanket and spent the night bundled up on a soft chair. I slept in his old room. We hung out until 1:00 p.m. and headed back home. The house was still standing, none the worse for wear, the guests were well-behaved and the dog enjoyed the extra attention. Best of all is the lack of bad-behavior or disrespect from my son.

We may never get back to where we were before "Miso" reared it's ugly head but I am ecstatic at how far we have come.

As always, we are a work-in-progress.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Checkups and Checking-in

The boys are on Spring Break this week. This was the perfect time to schedule doctor and dentist visits. Yesterday morning, Eldest and Colin had their semi-annual dental checkups. (Middle-son is overseas on a school trip to Italy and Greece.) Later in the day, Colin had his annual exam at the pediatrician.

I am happy to say, both events went smoothly. No news is good news from the dentist. When it was close to the time for the pediatric appointment, Dad came to my work and switched cars with me so he could take Colin. Eldest had the other mini-van and we've been mindful not to use the Miata for transporting our sound-sensitive son as this noisy car used to be a huge stressor. Colin has not voiced any objections or shown any obvious signs of distress over former triggers but we are trying to be careful to avoid any potential irritants.

Hubs reported that Colin has grown 2 inches since his last visit 8 months ago. This is great news. We were concerned that he had not grown much the prior year and is small for his age. He is now 5' 2" at 14 years old, only 1 inch behind his brothers at that age. They are now around 5'10" at 16 & 18 years old, so Colin should hopefully catch up in a few years.

Colin was well-behaved for both appointments and seemed in a relatively good mood. When home at last, Dad was subjected to a few shushes which signaled it was time to leave our son alone.

Volunteer of the Year

The boys are required to volunteer a certain amount of hours as part of their High School education. Colin has been helping out at the local Irish Club, working events such as Fish Dinners. The work is relatively easy and the boys are sometimes rewarded with left-overs to take home. He had such a good time, he decided to put in extra hours to work ahead (unlike his brothers who waited until the last minute). Colin even worked on his birthday!

When picking our son up from a recent event, the volunteer coordinator came up to my husband. The supervisor wanted us to know that Colin is a hard worker and the best volunteer he has ever had.

Something to savor, along with the containers of food he brings home!

New Normal

As time goes on, we are achieving a new normal. We leave our son alone as much as possible. Colin spends quite a bit of time in his basement room and is able to have more cordial interactions with us. There are still the snippets of "bad behavior" ,which are fairly minor and becoming less frequent, such as quietly telling the dog "Kill" or "attack" or the occasional shushes and glares. It helps to give our son as much space and control as possible.

Colin continues to get good grades (3.9 avg.) and is consistently making Honor Roll. He also remains active at school in extra-curricular activities. He is now on the Ultimate Frisbee team with his eldest brother, and Engineering Team and NAQT (Quiz Team) with his middle-brother. He seems the happiest he has been in school. Middle-son tells me that Colin has friends and seems to be liked. This is such a relief. Our son is doing so much better than we had hoped for.

The biggest area of concern is the "unknown". Our son uses much of his free-time for online gaming and sits for hours in front of his laptop wearing his headset. He has set up a Skype account to communicate with his gaming buddies as they play. While this is considered a normal part of play, I am a little worried about his interacting  online with strangers. So far, there have been no "red flags" but I will continue to look for any.

The hard reality is that it is near impossible to protect our children from the world.

As always...... We are a work-in-progress!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Birthday, Colin - 2015

Yesterday was Colin's 14th birthday. I got up early and went to Tim Horton's to buy a dozen donuts and a box of Tim Bits to start the day. Colin seemed in a decent mood and I made sure to have minimal contact to keep it that way.

He put on his new forest green dress shirt and tartan-plaid tie that I bought him this past weekend. What a difference a year makes. Last year we could not be under the same roof and refused to accept any cards or gifts from us. He accepted his birthday donuts which was shared with his brothers and took the Tim Bits to school with him.

We had to delay going out for a birthday dinner as Colin had signed up to help with a Fish Fry fundraising dinner at a local Irish Club to get his required volunteer hours in. When he came home, we celebrated with an ice cream cake. I was delighted that we were able to sing to him and I was able to get some photos.

The only blemish on the day is that my middle-son was not shy in voicing his resentment to me. Colin came home on his 16 year old brother's birthday. To make matters worse, that was the same day we picked up Sumter. I have no doubt that without this puppy, we would not have been as successful in bringing our son home. Unfortunately middle-son views this as his brother getting a gift of a dog and taking away the spotlight from the birthday boy.

This teenage angst is working my last nerve!

Other than the simmering resentment from his brother, Colin seems to have had a good week. Wednesday, Colin and his eldest brother performed in a high school band concert; Colin on trombone, his brother on trumpet. We were able to have a nice dinner afterwards. I really cherish these bouts of normalcy.

Tonight we have family coming into town and will dine out. I am delighted that Colin is on-board with the plans and not the least bit hesitant.

Time to start to get ready!

As always.... we are a work-in-progress!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Team Spirit

This morning I had to take Colin and his middle-brother to school by 6:00 a.m. They are part of the Engineering team at school and they are traveling by bus to take part in a High School competition. The boy who said he would not do any school activities with his brothers nor claim them as being related seems to have long forgotten his proclamation back in July. Colin is active in school clubs and sports and is maintaining an Honor Roll status. He currently has a 3.9 GPA.

The Final Plunge

High School swim season is now over. Two weeks ago,  my eldest son made it to "Districts" in the 100 Breaststroke. We had to leave at the crack of dawn for a 90 minute car ride to the all-day swim meet. While my middle-son slept-in, Colin chose to come along to cheer his teammates on. Perhaps due to his eldest brother's presence, he was on his best behavior. During the car ride, I was only subjected to a couple of shushes when I was talking.

Colin sat with me up in the stands, was able to tell me where he was going when he left and politely asked for money when he wanted to buy some lunch. He even brought back my change. The only odd behavior was when we were ready to leave and had to wait for my senior to change and pose for a team photo. I noticed that Colin had his knit cap pulled down hiding his eyes. Former classmates and summer swim teammates were there with our local public high school team. I'm pretty sure he did not want to run into any of them. His shame over the past year runs deep.

 Quiz Time

Colin and his 16 year old brother also are on their NAQT ( National Academic Quiz Tournament) team and have been participating in weekend meets. Three weeks ago I drove the boys and a schoolmate up to Cleveland for a tournament. Other than the weather, things went fairly smoothly.

I took a break from the tourney to visit a favorite childhood deli. I purchased some of  the world's best corned beef and deli treats for my family as well as picked up an order for my sister. Colin remembered the deli from our last visit 19 months earlier when we were in town for my class reunion, right before our relationship went downhill.

Much to my surprise, he asked if I was going to Corky's and seemed pleased when I answered in the affirmative. Fortunately I had the foresight to go early, soon after the tournament started. The weather was snowy and the roads were starting to get a bit hazardous. I don't think I would have made the trip if I waited until the end of the day.

When I got back to the meet, I chose to follow my high school junior's team as Colin does not want me to watch him compete. The ride home took twice as long due to slippery, snowy roads and a detour around a 20-car pile-up. I was grateful to arrive home safely and that Colin was well-behaved the entire time.

Imaginary Friends

Due to a series of inclement-weather days off from school,  it would appear Colin has been spending a fair amount of time with online gaming. One recent evening, I brought the dog down the basement to check on my son. I opened the door and let the pup in only to hear my son say, "Mom. not now, I'm playing with my friends".

I stuck my head in his room to look for "imaginary friends" and found Colin seated in front of his laptop wearing his headset. I pointed to his computer and shot him a quizzical look. He nodded in the affirmative. I grabbed the dog and left. At least he was polite in front of his online buddies.

I spoke to my 16 year old to see if I needed to be concerned that his brother was spending quite a bit of time online with what appears to be total strangers. I was told no, and that I didn't need to worry. There are better ways of paedophiles targeting victims than playing "Call of Duty".

I have to trust that my son will be o.k. Things seem to be going well, at least on the surface. What lies below is anyone's guess...

As always, "We are a work-in-progress!"

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dancing On My Grave

 This morning I received a comment from a concerned blog-reader that I felt worthy of a post. I often mention my son's "messages of hate" such as "go kill yourself" and "vicious puppy is going to attack and kill you". Recently when I jokingly told my son that he would miss me when I'm gone, he responded that he would be dancing on my grave. While I might make light of this behavior and choose to either ignore or respond with humor, I do take this situation a bit more seriously than it might appear.

My daughter, who is 20 and has suffered with Misophonia since the age of 8 has been reading your blog with me. Your struggle and Colin's has really moved us.
I am also an Emergency Physician with 28 years of experience and I am very concerned about the behaviors you are describing where your son repeats his 'hate messages', especially in a quiet or sing-song voice, through the dog, and that he does it only with you and your husband and doesn't allow it to be public. This does not seem to have any relation to misophonia triggers, but could indicate another condition. I strongly recommend, for you and for your son's safety and well-being, that you talk with his doctor and/or a Behavioral Health Professional about these behaviors.

Marni, I appreciate your concern here. I agree that the messages of hate may not be exactly miso-related. There is much of our lives that are not in my blog.

As a precaution, when we were getting the house ready for Colin to come home, we hid and locked up our large kitchen knives. I also had kept in touch with our behavioral psychologist when our son first came home and we routinely spoke about this behavior. While troubling, it has been important that we don't overreact.

During the time that Colin was hospitalized, he was suspected of a wide range of disorders but none confirmed. Hard as they tried, he refused any and all medication. Our mental heath system is extremely deficient to say the least and the only good our son's stint at the Psych Hospital did was to further cement his hate for us. He blames us for having him locked up as a punishment.

While hospitalized, our son admitted that he would not care if something happened to my husband and I but he personally would not do anything. Upon his release, it was clear that my son was not ready to go home and we were not provided with any real options by the social worker and psychiatrist on our case. They were more interested in making room for another patient and deemed our son clear to leave. I am still very bitter about our experience. I thank God every day that my sister stepped up to help. I shudder to think what might have happened had she not.

Our cognitive behavioral psychologist has admitted that our son was one of his most frustrating cases. The doctor was able to serve as a good sounding board but in the end, my best tool has been my mother's intuition. It has been helpful to have a trained professional to run ideas past and to affirm we are on the right path.

I belong to several online support groups. I have made many friends with parents of difficult cases as well as adults with Misophonia. One of my adult friends has been instrumental in helping me understand what might be going on in my son's head. There were some similarities in her case. My friend had difficulties as a teen living at home and went to live with her aunt for a year. Having a misophone's perspective and coaching was invaluable.

I was advised to proceed slowly and methodically as we were (still are) dealing with a very sensitive individual. Allowing the child to have as much control as possible is also key. Consistency in behavior and words is another important factor. My friend and I strategized, I ran our ideas past our psychologist and then carried them out. I still marvel at our success in getting Colin back home by our deadline. Even more amazing is his progress by leaps and bounds.

I believe there may be a hereditary component to our son's disorder. I see some of my mother in my son. Unfortunately she passed away long before he was born. She was very smart, driven and a bit obsessive. She had an explosive temper and exhibited distorted thinking. While there may have been an element of truth to some of her feuds, they were blown out of proportion and hardly worthy of the decades-long vendettas she held against family and some neighbors.

Much of my childhood was not happy and I did experience some verbal and physical abuse at the hands of my mom. We were able to come to terms with this later in life before her death. She expressed her regrets and we made our peace for which I am thankful. Not everyone gets this chance. This experience helped shape who I am today.

Colin has told his middle-brother that he will never forgive his parents for the past year. I am aware that it may take a very long time until our son will possibly take ownership of his situation. I do believe we will eventually have a reconciliation. Unfortunately this will not happen any time soon.

I want to assure you that not a day goes by that I don't try to gauge where we are with Colin. I'm not proud of this but I have "stalked" him on the Internet, searched his notebooks and other media for any worrisome signs and keep an eye out for any troubling behavior. Much to my relief, I have found nothing of concern.

One of the most curious aspects of Colin's behavior is his ability to hide any signs of distress to former triggers. I doubt he is "cured". I have witnessed on some rare occasions what might be avoidance maneuvers  but have not seen any rages since he has been back. Much of his "hate messages" tend to occur when he is tired or inundated with uninitiated conversation. Some of this might be a form of trigger-induced anger-release. No one except our son can answer this. Unfortunately our teenage master of deflection will not open up to anyone. I so wish I could unlock the "black box" in his head to solve these mysteries.

Right now our hands our tied. While I do have professionals that I can and have called for advice, we need to move with caution. We agreed not to take our son to any more psych-related doctor visits if he was functioning within reason in our home. And he is.

Things have been slowly improving but as always... We are a work-in-progess.

Thank you so much for reaching out and for your concern!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Parent's Worst Nightmare

Tuesday morning, January 12, while Ohio State fans were celebrating their beloved team winning the National Championship, I received some terribly sad news. The night before, friends of our family lost their 14 year old son to suicide. My blood ran cold and I was in disbelief when I found out. This is one of the nicest families that we know. When we were not sure what would happen to Colin this past summer after his stay at my sister's house, this family had offered to take our son in. Fortunately we were able to get our son back home but the heartfelt offer meant a lot to us.

We haven't had a chance to spend much time yet with our friends as we are allowing them some time to grieve with their family. What little I have learned is that this boy, who was extremely smart and driven, may have been having some difficulty with a class.  There was no note, so we don't know why.

He had been having some outbursts at home that may have been triggered by his frustrations. The boy had also been ill with a cold as well as allergies. The parents had made an appointment with their pediatrician as a first step but unfortunately their son took his life before getting to the doctor.  This is such a heartbreaking situation.

I want to cry but I can't. A side-effect of the past roller coaster of a year is that my emotional system is a bit locked up. I can't remember the last time I had a good sob. For now, this has served me well. I was able to take food to the family the next day and keep it together during my brief visit. When hugging the mom, between sobs, she told me she wished she reached out to us. They may have seen some similarities between their son and Colin and thought we might have been able to provide some advice. We had no idea of their situation but I don't think we would have been much help.


When we spoke with our boys, there were mixed reactions. Disbelief, curiosity, sadness and difficulty in processing the news. Colin was curious on the circumstances but showed little emotion. He had swam with the boy, had been to the house on several occasions, including a sleepover-birthday party but it had been over a year since they had been together. My other boys had much more contact and we had just been to our friends' house for their annual  New Year's Party. (Colin stayed home as part of his avoidance of anyone who knew of his breakdown). The older boys were in shock.

When it came time for the viewing and funeral services, we gave Colin the option of going. He chose to stay home. While his choice was totally expected, I was still relieved. Our son has a hard time processing emotion. I was also worried that if he saw how utterly devastated the grieving family was he might get ideas.

Trading Places

The last several weeks we had been experiencing some drama with my middle-son. He is in his junior year in high school and is taking a challenging load of classes. Add to that an abundance of extra-curricular activities and teenage hormones. Something had to give. The icing on the cake is due to scheduling conflicts (and lack of motivation) our 16 year-old started missing several swim-team practices. This led to some verbal abuse from teammates. Things started to unravel for our middle-child and the death of a friend made matters worse.

The ironic part is while one boy was hitting a rough-spot, another seemed to be shining. My eldest and I both noticed that over the past month or so, Colin has been surprisingly "normal". He has been good about making swim practices, getting good grades (3.9 - 4.0) and seems to be the happiest he has been since coming back home. I can't help but wonder if it was helpful to have his brother take the spot as "problem child" for a bit.

Sometimes we forget that "Misophonia" (or "Select Sound Sensitivity Syndrome" or "Sensory Processing Disorder" or  "Colin's Disease" ) is a problem for the whole family. It doesn't matter what you call it, when one child in a family has a life-altering issue, everyone is affected.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!