Fun With Hand-Me-Downs
No Party, All Bullsh*t

Mr. Big Stuff

After Noah learned to ride his bike sans training wheels, and after the trip to the toy store and the coveted Ninjago Lego Set Of Six Hundred Eighty Four Infernal Fucking Pieces Are You Kidding Me was procured and assembled, Noah calmly asked us to put his training wheels back on.

Uh. Well, see, the point was...

"I'M NEVER RIDING MY BIKE AGAIN," he shrieked, before I even finished the sentence. He may have stomped up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door, but I can't specifically recall if that was over the training wheel thing or any of the MILLIONS of hideous injustices his six-year-old self is forced to endure on a daily basis, including but not limited to:

1) not being allowed to watch TV

2) being told he really shouldn't wear that sweater, it's 80 degrees outside



5) being told to bend over all the way to the ground to pick up the thing that he just dropped, I mean, MY GOD, he's tall for his age. It's like, three whole feet away, down there. YOU DO IT, MOM.

He stuck to his stubborn little guns for a couple days before we could lure him back outside for more bike-riding practice. It went well, but I think he protested for longer than he actually spent on the bike. He didn't fall, he got better at getting going by himself and staying in a straight line. 

He still couldn't wait to get back inside. Sweet, sweet inside! With Legos and soft places to sit! Heaven on Earth for the Inside Kid.

So I don't know what came over him yesterday, just like I never, ever know what triggers a change in Noah, in his brain or just in his heart. Because if I could figure it out I would bottle that shit up in a spray bottle and keep it in my purse. Maybe sell it on infomercials. It's Noah's Amazing Rigidity Anti-Starch! Penetrates the Toughest Quirks! Long-Lasting Flexibility In Every Spritz!

All I know is that he got on his bike and rode back and forth, up and down our sidewalk. Up the hill, down the -- HOLY SHIT THAT'S FAST -- hill. I sat on the yard with the baby and cringed through my cheerleading, because HOLY SHIT THAT'S FAST. 


I don't know how to parent Noah, sometimes. Blah blah advocate cheerleading decision-making research good mother all that blah. Yes. In a big-picture, theoretical sort of way, I know how one should parent a child like Noah. I think we're getting the big-picture stuff right. I think we're doing a good job. I hope. Mostly. 70/30. I'd take that.

No, I struggle more with the little details. The day-to-day life with a kid who turns on a dime minute-by-minute. Who is hyper and quirky and boisterous and stubborn and sweet and infuriating. Who tests and challenges and misbehaves and pushes, like any kid, but also like one who is perpetually turned up to 11.

I yell and scold too much, I'm afraid. I push back against behaviors I should lean gently into. I lose my temper, or at least let my annoyance get the better of me and show through. It drips into my voice and body language. I get irritated over things he cannot help, and get angry over the things he can, and some days I can't tell the difference. "DSTSS," Jason and I have taken to hissing at each other, when we see the other making too big of a deal out of something, of being too hard on him, or just fighting a losing battle of wills.

DSTSS. Don't sweat the small stuff. It's the small stuff I suck at, though.



Noah rode his bike again, some more, better. He went down the hill super-fast and scared the living daylights out of his overly-nervous, fellow-Inside-Kid mother.

And after each run, he'd stop, and let out a whooping cheer for himself at the top of his lungs.





Yes you are, Noah! And so are you Mama, don't be so hard on yourself.


Aw, he's fine, and you're fine. Love that picture of him - he's so proud of himself.


Amy-I related to everything you wrote. I think all of us are fumbling no matter who are kids are, we all get irritated, and all of our kids possess magical ways of pushing our buttons. We yell and scold when we should lean, and we learn over and over again that they will do things in their own sweet time. Sigh. But they are awesome, so is Noah, and so are you.

The Diamond in the Window

Oh dear oh dear, I feel you. I am so aware that I am not quite the right parent, is how I put it to myself, for my own quirky daughter. Wouldn't it be awesome if she had a mother who could best be described as patient? Wouldn't it be great if she had someone who was calmly organized, to help balance out her lacking-executive-functioning self? And what if it was someone who could convince her to take long walks without getting shaming and sharp and contemptuous? But I think having parents is the same somehow as having children: you get what you get and you don't get upset. And you know what it sounds like? It sounds like he's happy, and that's kind of huge.


I love that you say "sat ON the yard". I think that's an East Coast thing.


Oh, I have been scolding myself for the same DSTSS impatience on a week of solo parenting while my husband is away on a business trip (at a Ritz Carlton. in CA. On the ocean. But who's keeping score?) Thank you for sharing; this made me feel better on a day where I didn't do my best work getting them off to school.


I need to tattoo "DSTSS" on my head. My daughter has been crying at the drop of a hat lately and I don't know how to not get visibly annoyed with that, which makes her cry more.

Gah. Parenting is hard.


Shoot, this all sounds so familiar and we don't even have the same behavioral issues as you do. This morning my daughter sobbed and carried on and on because I went to the bathroom before she woke up (she's 3). "I want you to go potty again. You didn't wait for me." All I could do was laugh because, really?


I suck at the Small Stuff, too. "Pick you battles" blah blah blah! Consitency! Boundaries! Consequences!

Mothering is easy.....parenting is harder than climbing MT Kilimanjaro. True.


I'd say if you got your 6 yr old to a place where,when doing something he refused to do, he decides he is "SO SUPER AWESOME", then you are a very good mom to Noah. Parenting our kids is the hardest thing, because just when we figure them out - they go and change on us again!


This post. These comments. They are so reassuring. My daughter (3) is an "11" kid as well, has been since birth. I have so many moments of "am I the right kind of parent for this kid?!" *sigh* Years of child care experience have done nothing to prepare me for having my own, single defiant/smart/weird/challenging/sweet/frustrating11 child.


That whole thing just sounds like kids to me. Rooked you out of the Legos that cost too many dollars, and now wants the security of the training wheels back. This doesn't seem behavioral problemish to me at all, it just seems like a normal kid.

As for your're doing fine. They don't come with manuals, you know. Every damn one of us fumbles through all of it, and when we're elderly we sit and think about what we did wrong and what we did right. Since mine are all three functioning as adults...quirky, but still adults...I guess I did more right than wrong. But the wrong still haunts me, and yet if I were in the same circumstances today, who knows if I'd do any better? NOBODY gives birth to a child and says "Hey, I think I'll fuck this one up." We all do our best, that's all we can do.


I needed to hear these words today. Thank-You. I see so much of my child in Noah (is that odd to say?) and this reminds me that he (and me) are not alone. There are days that I really question if I am the right mom for this precious boy. Here is to letting the small things go...


If you've got a kid who is secure enough to know - even in a moment - how SUPER AWESOME he truly is, you're doing an amazing job as parents. Seriously. That's what all kids need and it sounds like Noah's got some pretty amazing cheerleaders to help him figure that out.


My 6 year old is a very bright, highly sensitive kiddo who has been in a really rough patch of "zero coping skillz" for a few months. It wears me out and makes me question my parenting skills daily, and reading this (and the comments) has me feeling a little less alone. Thank you for that.

Veronica Miller

You hit the nail on the head. I am sure most, if not all, mothers worry about how they parent their kids. A great therapist once told me that the best mothers worry. That shows they care and want to do the absolute best by their kids. You are a great mom and Noah *IS* super awesome.


He is most definitely so super awesome, quirks and all. I can't say that the ability to lean into some of the behavior gets easier. I'm still working on it, with more or less quirkless kids. I have one determined inside kid, the kind that has to be lured out to the yard and sun with promises to go to Gap for a new skirt or five.

All I can say is 11 years in and I still feel like I am fucking these smaller sized humans up. Yet, I keep trying to be aware of when it's more ME being the ass, when saying OK/yes really isn't the end of the world; keep trying to do better, do less of what is likely the antithesis of better, just like you. Even though we will probably always question everything we do/say, everything we allow/disallow, every piece of body language or irritated look that we hoped, yet failed, didn't get conveyed, we still keep trying. What else is there really?


I really needed this today. Thank you.


I love reading your posts, and I love reading the comments as well. Isn't it amazing that although there are fifty million of us in the same parenting boat, we often still feel so isolated and as if we are the only ones doing it wrong?! LOL! My 7 year old son is such a free spirit, and most of the time I can stand back and admire that, but sometimes... well, sometimes I don't cope as well. (Especially when I get a phone call from his teacher telling me that he was refusing to call her by anything but her first name. When I asked him about it, he stated, "But Mom, that's her name!" Sigh.)


Thanks for the reminder - Don't sweat the small stuff. We all need to hear that. I sometimes say to my loved ones - 'will this really matter 50 years from now'. It helps chill us out a bit.
You and Jason are an awesome team. Love you guys.


I'm coming out of Super Lurkerville just to tell you that you are being a phenomenal parent -- I think it's the ones that worry a bit, that question their ability, and are always a little disappointed that are the best parents -- the introspection shows how much you care.

Side note, since I'm here -- do you hiss DSTSS? Cause I totally would. Dissssssstisssss! Dissssstisss! Actually, that's really fun to say. :)

Thanks for being awesome and keeping me entertained for the last (really long number of years).


I just needed to say that both you and Noah are super awesome. I recently found out I'm having a boy, and after scouring 0-40 and your archives I love checking in and seeing how things are going on in present day.

Plano Mom

Patience and parent both start with the same letter. That's not a coincidence. The inverse is not appropriate though. Just because you lose your patience does not mean you are not a parent. It just means you are human too. Promise, promise, promise, they only remember the cheerleader.

Plano Mom

Oh and the bait and switch on the lego deal? Been there, done that, you make up the T-shirt and I'll buy it. Still doing it, and he's 13.


Very cool. He IS so super awesome.


I have the exact same conversation with myself all the time. I'm in a bad cycle with my oldest right now- I cannot get her out the door or into bed without turning into the wicked mother of the west. Oy. I'm going with " if you're reflective enough to be asking these questions, you're likely just fine.


I could have written this myself. My four year old is not a special needs child, but he IS four. And every day we try to do better, be more patient, try harder. And every day it gets the better of us at some point. Some day we'll get the hang of this parenting business.


This reminded me so much of Michael I wanted you to come over and parent him. Seriously.


Today I bribed my almost-6-year-old to climb "scary" playground equipment with quarters. The ladders and things that preschools zip up and down without a backward glance are TERRIFYING to her. In her defense, we don't live in a place with many playgrounds (more forests and beaches than parks), and the one at school is pretty tame, but come on. It's getting ridiculous how little confidence she has in her body sometimes. I can't imagine her ever riding a bike at this point--with or without training wheels!


You ARE super awesome Noah!

God bless ya Amy! You're an amazing mother. This shit is hard! No one ever tells you that before kids. You're an amazing mother.


Oh and? AND! I am so tempted to get my nose pierced because of you. Just sayin'.


Yes! I totally get everything you are saying. I feel exactly that way about my spirited, awesome, infuriating 8yo, more than I care to admit.


I know you do and have done lots of therapies for Noah. But have you done family therapy or seen a counselor yourself? it helped us so much with our parenting for our son who has Aspergers. It was someone to bounce ideas off of, to give us strategies for the little problems we had to deal with, and new ideas for the longstanding problems. But mostly it was positive reinforcement when we did handle something right, and someone not so emotionally involved to guide us when we did something wrong. I really learned my patience through counseling, I feel I am a different and hopefully better mom now.


I, too, would like a DSTSS tattoo. Do you offer those? Thank you for this!

Mission Control

This resonated with me. I often am not sure if I'm fighting the right fights and letting the right things slide. Wouldn't it be nice to have just a short glimpse of the future.

Jenny H.

I yell and scold too much, I'm afraid. I push back against behaviors I should lean gently into. I lose my temper, or at least let my annoyance get the better of me and show through. It drips into my voice and body language. I get irritated over things he cannot help, and get angry over the things he can, and some days I can't tell the difference. "DSTSS," Jason and I have taken to hissing at each other, when we see the other making too big of a deal out of something, of being too hard on him, or just fighting a losing battle of wills.

So exactly right. And how I feel every day. I hope and pray that I am getting it right, or at least not screwing him up too much. But, gah. The struggle and the worry. Sometimes is just too damn much. So thank you. For getting it and writing about it in a way that makes the rest of us feel like maybe it will all be okay.

The Mommy Psychologist

Please, please, please figure out what it is that makes them switch so quickly. Package it and I will buy cartons!


Yes. Exactly. I get the big picture, but it's those damn every day little choices where I don't know what I'm doing. I try to hang out in the DSTSS camp, but then there are days (like yesterday) where I feel like Holy God, that is NOT working because there's so much small stuff going down that I'm going to lose. my. mind. (Or she'll get kicked out of school.) So then I go the other direction and that doesn't work either but it leaves everyone aggravated.

My challenging child is my 4th and yet, every day with her, I feel like I'm relearning this parenting thing from the beginning.

I'm so jealous of your bike rider! My daughter (same age) has balance issues, gross motor delays and a bleeding disorder. She wants to ride that bike so bad. And I just run up and down the street with packs of bandages in my pockets.


Both you and he are SUPER AWESOME.

If it gives you any comfort, my neuro-typical ten-year-old turns on a dime, too.

Mary Jo Raube

I think that you and Jason are doing a great job, Amy.


You are doing a good job! Noah, Ezra & Ike all are delightful & delicious in their own way! Every child's 'quirks' are uniquely thier own and every parent's path & choices for their family are different. My sister has found this resource to be very helpful for her family:

I am sure it is not right for everyone but I thought I'd share in case you find it to be a helpful resource in someway for you & your family!

Mom In Two Cultures

That combination of traits you described? That's my PDD-NOS kid in a nutshell. Uncanny how similar. It's hard to parent when you know they are going to do exactly what they want to in their own damn time. My kid, for example, wouldn't eat eggs. Absolutely refused to eat eggs. Then, a couple of days before his 4th birthday, he said, "Mom, when I turn 4, I will like eggs. Three year-olds don't like eggs, but 4 year-olds do." And on his fourth birthday, he started eating eggs, and he has ever since.


Don't read so much into the switching positions on the bike. All kids do this. Do something that they are afraid of, that is hard and then as soon as the reward is given, want to go back to the easier way. I am sure he has quirks that are difficult to handle, but dude kids are fickle and irrational very often. The slamming doors... that's also very common at this age. We all fumble through. Sometimes we have the emotional reserve and time to handle the situation calmly, sometimes, "Cut that shit out!" works faster and just as well.


Thanks so much for this post, it's so reassuring to hear that there are other mothers out there that feel the way I do. I am parenting an almost 13 year old girl with ADHD & PDD/NOS whose medication seems to not be working very well anymore and it is so arduous to change medication and it seems to take forever to find out which one works best, plus I'm sure she is going through hormonal changes as she comes up on her 13th birthday. I have a hard time being patient with her as she ignores my pleas to hurry up and get ready for school/bed/going somewhere/etc. And leave the damn cat alone! it's these everyday things that will make me wind up in the psych ward. Ha, ha.


I'm new to your blog, but this entry really spoke to me. My kid is only 19 months, but I see myself where you are when he is Noah's age. Thanks for sharing. I'll continue to read. :)

Office Crush

Oh yes, if I could only figure out my children's motivations for changing their minds, I'm pretty sure I'd be a kajillionaire. Or at least on that lame new Oprah show.


Super awesome. I actually think he is.....


in reading your description of noah, i see my son. and in reading your description of your reactions to him, i see myself. but you are right...dstss. it's not worth it. and it's not what he'll remember. you are an awesome mom and he knows that.


That middle part about not knowing how to parent Noah sometimes...I could have written those words about my boys. It is exactly how I feel 90% of the time with them.


I just wanted to say thanks for the idea of bribing your child to get them to ride with out training wheels! We tried it out on Easter and he took of without even thinking about it and did awesome, which was much different from the first time we tried where there was a lot of yelling, kicking things, and tantrums, and that was just me! :)


yes, Noah, you are SO SUPER AWESOME!!
and so is your mom!


I blow the small stuff all the time. Some days I am just cruising along, thinking to myself, yay, no screaming today, and then wham! Game over. *sad face* That line between not-tolerated and semi-tolerated behavior is so confusing sometimes, compounded by my shrinking patience. So some days I gauge it just right, other days, no. I have to think that in the long run, we do a good job, because despite the joys of it, yesyesyes, it's a freakin' hard job. Go, us! Go, Noah! Go, Amalah!
And mmm, utility sink...


how awesome!
yay for you both.

i have a quirky SPD kid myself... but she's all "on the cusp/in the grey area" in most areas of that. i never feel like i reach her.
i love your blog for your honesty and your trial/error that helps me get going for her.

you teach me so much.

& the pride that they feel in themselves???? i dunno- sometimes i think it's just SWEETER coming from a "different" kid b/c they get it!



Riding a bike is not a big deal. The feeling of competence he gets from mastery this skill? Crucial. Well done Mom. If you hadn't pushed this in the beginning he would never have started this. A bit of back-tracking is normal when you start something new and scary.


I just had this same conversation with my friend the other day. I'm good at fighting for what I want on IEPs, the big stuff? I've got it! So why does "no I don't want to" put me through the roof. I'm trying. This is hard sometimes. Thanks for being honest.

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