Happy Mother's Day?


If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty.' – Jeff Foxworthy

Yesterday, we went out to dinner as a family to celebrate Mother’s Day. It was a rare occasion that we 1) were all together on a weekend, 2) had enough nerve to go out to dinner as a group! But, being a weekend of celebrations we decided to try it. (Note to self – never play the lottery, my luck is awful, and my hunches are more like hunchbacks!)

And so, we ventured out. We climbed in the car, turned on Wicked on the CD player so we could all sing along, and headed east on the highway; the volume set precisely to 9, apparently 10 was just too loud today, though Emma asked for it to be on 12 since she couldn’t quite hear it. 

We made a quick stop at one of Ethan’s favorite restaurants and ordered a large supply of chicken nuggets. Our confidence in the outing soared a few points as we remembered to ask for a goodly supply of the Nectar-of-the Gods. When we looked in the bag, our confidence in the outing reached even greater heights; the Concierge of the drive-thru window had surpassed our request with a more then ample amount of extra ketchup packets. We were in high cotton!

We arrived at our favorite Asian restaurant, and waited while the kids examined the menu on the wall for several minutes, contemplating the quintessential flavors of Asia. Eventually we had a consensus and made our way to the register to order.

‘What can I get for you tonight?

‘We would like 2 orders of the Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls, the Chicken Pad Thai, Mongolian Beef with brown rice, and Minced Chicken with Lettuce Wraps…’

Any drinks?’

‘Please, six drinks…’

‘I just want water’

‘…Make that five drinks, and a water.’

That’ll be one arm and a leg…Debit or Credit?’


I’ll need you to sign your life away, as well as the indemnity agreement releasing the restaurant of all liability in the actions of your family over the next thirty minutes.

‘That reminds me, can I also get a side of dumpster fire and a train wreck please!’

Certainly, we offer those like our fortune cookies, free and by the handful, help yourself!

We got our drinks, found a table large enough for six, and strategically positioned our selves. Evie pulled the chicken nuggets out of her purse; I grabbed a plate and began emptying the contents of ten packets of ketchup in preparation for the introduction of the chicken nuggets. Morgan’s plate arrived first, then the chicken salad rolls. As the ketchup duty continued, we adjusted the empty plates, shuffled drinks, handed around napkins, forgot straws, returned again for forks, and made room for more food to arrive. The remaining dishes arrived just as the last ketchup packet was emptied and the foil containers wrapped in a napkin and set it aside.

 It was now time to get up and move Ethan. He had been seated next to Emma, and this apparently was just too funny, for he couldn’t sit still, and could not focus on his dinner to even give it a second thought. Not wanting the chicken nuggets to get ‘too hard,’ I moved quickly and had him slide over into my chair while I sat Twinkie between the two of them. It worked, his focus returned to his plate, a few more reshuffles of the dishes and we were ready to eat, except for the fact that Ethan then realized the chicken nuggets are no longer shaped like crowns!

‘Is it illegal to assassinate the Burger King?’ I asked.

‘Yeah, probably.’ my wife responded.

‘He buddy, they just changed their shapes, they are still the same chicken nuggets. Try them and see if they taste the same.’

Ethan then flaked off a small piece of crust from the nugget, put it to his lips, and said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ That was close!

As Ethan downed eight of his nuggets, the rest of us ate our entrĂ©es. Ethan’s chicken became too hard, as the others became full. We grabbed to-go boxes, packed up our leftovers and sat, in silence. Morgan asked why we were still sitting there. Simple, I replied with a smile, ‘I’m finishing my dinner’ then took a few slow drinks from my soda, enjoying the precious few seconds of quiet and solitude we had somehow found—the weekend had been hectic, sleep deprived, exhilarating, emotional, and visited with coughing fits (for Evie), and busier then normal—and I was going to savor every last second of the solitude since it wouldn’t last long.

We drove to the department store, next door, to grab a few last minutes items for Mother’s Day, such as a Bundt pan, nighttime cold and flu medicine, a cough suppressant expectorant, chocolate, and a meltdown. Actually it was not a real meltdown, just the precursor build up to a meltdown.

At first Ethan and I held hands as we shopped. As it grew time to checkout and leave, Ethan suddenly decided he hated me, and wanted to hold ‘Mom’s hand.’ That lasted two seconds, until Emma touched him, and Michael returned from his walkabout. We walked, back to holding hands, and made our way to the front of the store, stopping only briefly in the candy aisle for a last minute gift. 

As we checked out, the Team Member asked for Evie’s drivers license.

Not sure either of us is over 18? I can see how you’d get confused’ I said with a smile.

Obviously we were 18, she just needed to identify us in case we decided to go out to our clandestine lab with the lone box of expectorant and begin cooking meth, so we preferred to think of it as a compliment to our youthful appearances!

We exited the store and made our way to the car. It appeared we had avoided the meltdown, and were now on our way home, sanity in tact. I opened the kid’s door, ensuring Ethan and Emma both got inside, then walked around to get Evie’s door. I reached her just in time to watch her sit down and reach to close the door.

‘Did I just get my own door?’


‘Sorry, I didn’t even realize it.’

I walked back around the car, and got in, we backed out, began pulling away, and ran out of luck within feet of our parking space.

‘Uuuuuuuuughhhh! Michael just blew his germs on me.’ 


‘Don’t touch me.’ 

'Dad, make him stop.’


< Crying begins >

‘Knock it off!’

‘I didn’t blow germs on him.’

‘Michael you blew in his face.’

< Crying intensifies >

‘He hit me in the stomach.’

I don’t care, holy cow…! 

(Evie begins a coughing fit, while driving – which by the way we haven’t even gotten out of the aisle we parked in!)

‘Don’t wipe your boogers on my shirt!’

 ‘Listen up! Ethan stop! Morgan get over it, they’re just boogers…’

‘That’s gross!’

'They’re twelve year old Autistic boogers, get over it!’

‘Actually fifteen!’

'I don’t care if they’re twenty-five-year-old Autistic boogers get over it. Ethan quit it. Michael, don’t look at him, don’t blow on him, don’t respond.’

‘I just said a prayer for Mom to feel better!’

'Thank you Emma. Dear do you need me to drive?’
We pulled over and we exchanged seats. Evie’s coughing fit continued, as did the meltdown.
< Piercing Scream >

‘Don’t turn up the heat!’

‘They’re trying to kill me.’

‘He keeps turning up the heat.’

'Ethan quit touching the air conditioning.’

‘That’s because, they’re trying to make me frozen, because, because, that means I can’t move!’

‘Ethan, put your legs up here… (I direct Ethan to put his legs on the center console, away from the blowing air) and I’ll keep them warm. (I lean over so my arm covers his legs, as Evie’s coughing fit worsens. She takes my hand and squeezes as the cough scratches at her throat.)

<  Blood curdling scream >

‘Ethan, I need you to hold my arm. Can you hold my arm with both hands? I need you to squeeze my arm. Thanks!’

‘Dad turn it up, I can’t hear it!’

I let go of Evie’s hand to turn up the volume on Wicked (that’s ironic!), but apparently to the wrong level.

‘Dad that’s too loud.’ < crying recommences > ‘Dad, skip this song!’

After getting the right Wicked song to the right level on the radio, we begin a modified session of deep pressure therapy as I pressed on his legs with my right arm, giving both pressure and warmth, while he returned the deep pressure hugs by squeezing my arm. For several miles the screaming, crying and deep pressure therapy continued.  

All the while we drove I was performing a modified pose of Crying On The Inside and Poker Face (aka: Dumpster Fire or Train Wreck) and had not quite reached that level of consciousness where the laughing begins. Then I heard it, to my astonishment somebody in the back seat had, like me, been practicing the very same Yoga pose. A slight giggle sounded from the back, it was Morgan, and her laughter began to build. With her assistance, I reach Nirvana and began laughing as well. In time more laughter erupted from Michael, and the meltdown eventually dissipated into the night air.

We drove on, me unable to see out any of the mirrors—I was leaning so far over the console to keep Ethan’s legs warm—my hand numb from Evie’s squeezing. We must have looked like a cross between The Grapes of Wrath, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Evie’s cough eventually faded as did the laughter and was replaced by an overwhelming feeling of peace.  As we pulled up to the house alive, and all in one piece, I silently thought, 

             ‘We made it we ARE dang near royalty!’

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