Thursday, October 28, 2010


Anxiety runs in my family. And it turns out that Dino Boy (my 4-yr-old) has always been a rather anxious kid. When he was a baby, he would rarely smile at family members, let alone strangers. Oh, he would stare strangers down! It was like he was saying "Back off, buddy." You know, in baby speak.

He was a chronically cautious toddler (not as much now, but still is in many ways). The first time he tried to walk? Of course he fell. He didn't try again for a few months, and I just knew it was because he didn't want to fall. He wouldn't go down the slide at two. He'd scream on the swing, even if he was in my lap.

Oh, Dino Boy, how I love you and your anxious way of being.

Let's just say that Dino Boy is prone to...freak outs. Changes in his routine. New situations I haven't prepared him for. Dude, you should see him in a movie theater! Those folding chairs freak him out because he thinks they're going to squash him. And he's scared of the dark. I can't help laughing at how terrifying my son finds a common movie theater. If it weren't for the popcorn, I'd never be able to get him in the door.

So there's my set up. I have an anxious kid, and therefore as a mom I am constantly trying to make things look like they're no big deal. I'm constantly trying to help Dino Boy cope with nerves that will likely follow him the rest of his life.

One of the things I've been super worried about with the start of school is how easy he gets embarrassed...and how bad he freaks out when he does. It breaks my heart, honestly, when he forgets to grab his backpack after preschool and bawls the whole way home because he feels stupid. Nobody else forgot. Nobody else had to go back. Yes, these things already bother him!

Well, sometimes my "no big deal" attempts backfire. Sometimes I'm so chill about an issue that Dino Boy doesn't learn, um, proper etiquette. We've gotten over the backpack fiasco, but now we have an extreme...farting issue.

I know, all that set up just to talk about farts! I suppose I wanted it to be clear that I had no intention of turning my Dino Boy into that kid. You know the one I'm talking about—the one who farts on purpose and then laughs his head off about it. And not only does he laugh about his farts, but he laughs about Ninja Girl's farts. So now I have my beautiful little girl farting on purpose too! And they get in, like, farting BATTLES. Fart. Giggle. Fart. Snicker. Fart. Raging Cackles.

I've created two little MONSTERS! Originally, I was all "Okay, if I treat the fart like it's no big deal and everyone does it, then we can avoid a freak out at school if he accidentally farts and people laugh at him."

I was very well intentioned. I swear. Now I have to attempt to rectify my very well intentioned parenting, because it's totally backfired (which I just realized is a hilarious word to use in this post...I suppose that means the apple doesn't fall far from the tree). I have to admit I never saw this coming, though maybe I should have. This is what happens with first kids, isn't it? I hate admitting it's kind of like a big experiment with really huge consequences. But, well, it is.

Of course I was thinking about this in relation to writing, too. I've had some big old backfires in writing as well. I have written a first draft (or fourth) thinking I was doing the absolute best possible thing. It's only after I see the outcome that I can truly determine where I messed up. Some mistakes are small, but they have big repercussions. Some are big, but easily chopped out. The problems are always in places I never expected.

We always try our best. I truly believe that. But sometimes things backfire and that's okay too. All you have to do is re-teach your manuscript when and when not to fart...

Oh man, it's so wrong that I'm laughing. That was an epically horrible mix of comparisons. I'm pretty proud of that.


  1. I have missed reading your posts so much this semester. :) Glad I finally found time to read a few blogs.

    Thanks for sharing! I always love it when you compare parenting and life to writing; it's amazing how many things we learn that apply to both.

  2. I've missed you, Amanda! Dang school. So many of my online friends I've disappeared thanks to homework.

    Uh, I mean, get your degree! School is great!

  3. Aw, you sound like such a good momma. What a sweet kidlet, too. Backfires do nothing but teach us, too, so backfire away! Education is great!

  4. Kids laughing at farts sounds pretty normal to me. My kids used to think that saying "wee wee, poo poo, bum bum" was hysterical too.

  5. This is an awesome post. Unfortunately, I think when Dino Boy is older, internet savy, and can read, this is going to be extremely embarrassing for him. Not only did Mom mention him farting but she used his gas problem to allude to a lesson in writing. =)

  6. Anita, I'm am all about embarrassing me kids! It's my right as a mother:P

  7. Hey at least Dino is a boy. I have two girls and one of them in particular finds all things bathroom humory HILARIOUS. I blame my husband (ha). I joke with my mom constantly that I am raising a little boy. The worst part? I try NOT to laugh when she does these things, but that kid has some awesome comedic timing. Which, of course, just makes the problem worse. Oh well . . . Keep us posted if you figure this one out

  8. Natalie,

    When reading about Dino Boy, I felt like your were describing my 8 year old... as if you knew him personally.

    I sympathize with you. At 8, my son still has these tenancies, and I, just yesterday, was at a Parent Teacher meeting and the principal had to be involved. His fragile emotional state is causing issue for other students, as when someone teases him, he breaks down and the whole class gets into an uproar.

    I know this post was about writing, but I had to reach out. It's rough parenting an anxious child, but know that you're not alone. Sometimes I feel like my wife and I are the only ones who understand the situation. But now I see that we aren't. :)

    Thank you!

  9. Michael! Oh, it's so hard. My little sister is highly anxious as well, and it has been very eye opening to learn with her. I highly recommend therapy. My sister did group therapy with other anxious kids, where they learned about triggers and how to cope with oncoming panic attacks. It helped so much.

    Of course it's a permanent trial, but there are ways to manage. Good luck! I so get where you are coming from!

  10. Lolol! Hilarious post, Natalie.

    "I hate admitting it's kind of like a big experiment with really huge consequences. But, well, it is."

    Yup, hence my being terrified of parenting (even though I definitely want kids). At least if a manuscript backfires, only *fictional* people suffer the consequences. :P

  11. *hee* oh dear... yep it's funny how things backfire. Done that a couple of times with my niece and nephew ;p

  12. HA ha ha ha ha! I'm laughing because this post is so true!

  13. I relate with this post on so many levels. First of all, I've struggled with panic attacks off and on for the last 6 years(just the other night, my heart started to go boom, boom and because I knew what was happening, I was able to calm myself). It's a frustrating thing compounded by the fact that a lot of people don't understand what it's like. I also have a nephew who sounds a lot like Dino Boy and I think you're doing the right things with him. Although I totally get the first kid experiment thing as well. That made me laugh because I've always felt sorry for my twelve-year old and all the mistakes he's had to endure from my end. But so far he's turned out pretty darn good. God must realize that they shouldn't be punished for our stupidity:) Love your honesty.

  14. My nine year old had machine gun farts the other night at the dinner table. We didn't know whether to run for cover or hide under the table!

  15. That's hilarious! "Backfire." Ha. I don't think my son farts in public on purpose...yet, but he thinks that the funniest words on the planet are "fart" and "poop." So to ignore him? Or send him to his room? (Or laugh, because sometimes it's funny. I'm so immature.)

  16. Natalie,

    You know, it's just as important to laugh about the consequences of good intentions as it is to act upon the intentions in the first place.

    Thank you for sharing this story. As a person who suffers from anxiety, with a family history of anxiety, and a daughter who shows all the signs of having it too, I can totally relate. My daughter has started chronicling every mistake she thinks she's ever made to make sure she hasn't ruined her life. Meanwhile, my son IS one of those kids who just farts and laughs his head off about it. He's so far on the other end of the pendulum it's amazing.

    Anyway, it's good fodder for writing for sure!

  17. Too funny!

    My darling angel belched "Goodnight, Momma" to me when she was six. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. It was hilarious coming out of that tiny body, but omg, who taught her to do such a thing?! Amazing the things kids can learn when they put their little minds to it!

  18. I am so glad that my mother never blogged when I was little... not that there were blogs then, but still.