Category Archives: brothers

The Time When We Were On The Same Page (And Then We Weren’t)

It seems like my kids are never on the same page. When one kid is sick, the other one is healthy. When one kids wants to watch a movie, the other one wants to go outside. When one kid wants the lights on, the other wants them off. When one kid wants elbows, the other one wants bow ties. When one kid is afraid of the dentist, the other isn’t.

Oh the stories I could tell you about taking Dylan to the dentist! (The time I chased him into the parking lot comes to mind easily!) Years ago, our dentist suggested that more frequent visits might help desensitize him. She’s one of the wonderful medical professionals in our lives that truly understands SPD, so I genuinely appreciated her suggestion. Still, I couldn’t help but think of a few suggestions for her, like having an open bar in the waiting room or a child drop-off lane out front, because the thought of taking Dylan to the dentist more than absolutely necessary was mindboggling. Every six months, we endured the sometimes good, the mostly bad, and the often ugly. I hoped for the best, expected the worst, and prayed for no cavities, because surely he (and I) would need sedation to survive such a sensory calamity.

During that same time frame, Riley was a champ. For some reason, going to the dentist was as fun for him as going to the zoo or Costco. He was so easy at cleanings that I could scroll through my Facebook feed during appointments.

Thankfully, the stress of taking Dylan to the dentist eased up over time. Eventually, he sat in the chair by himself. He got used to the taste of the toothpaste (vanilla only, thank you very much) and tolerated the sound and sensation of the vibrating toothbrush, the water squirter, and the suction-thingy. He gagged less, and X-rays were doable because they got a fancy new machine that took images without having to stick anything in the back of his mouth.   I wish they had that at my dentist’s office!

It goes without saying that around the time Dylan finally chilled out at the dentist, Riley became deathly afraid.  About a year ago, he had to have his two front teeth extracted because of an unfortunate face plant that happened when he was two years old. The initial incident “immobilized” his front teeth.  They hung on for a while, but by the time he turned four, an infection sprouted in his gums, a scenario we were warned was likely to happen. Sadly, the extraction traumatized him. The poor kid was convinced that if he opened his mouth, they would pull another tooth! After that, Dylan was the easy one (by comparison), and Riley was so difficult that I was once asked to wait outside so they could do whatever it was they did (and didn’t want parents to see or hear) to get the cleaning done.

Last week, I took both kids to the dentist at the same time. I figured simultaneous appointments would be okay since Riley was (most likely) the wild card. If he needed some extra encouragement or a hug (or a bribe), I could give him the attention he needed.

The stakes were pretty high. On one end of the room was Dylan with SPD, and on the other end of the room was Riley with PTSD. Not surprisingly, nothing went as planned, but, thankfully, it all played out in a very good way. No one cried or screamed, no one gagged or tried to escape, and no one asked me to wait outside. The boys had a race to see who would finish first (including flossing and the fluoride treatment), they didn’t fight when Dylan won (by a hair!), and they even chose the same prize from the treasure box. Everything was totally and completely okay. They were fine and finally on the same page!

That is, until our dentist informed me that it’s time to seal Dylan’s molars, a procedure that will protect his back teeth from cavities but will require him to have his mouth open really, really wide for approximately forever fifteen minutes. It’s no big deal, but for a kid with SPD, it’s new and unfamiliar and scary and stressful and a very big deal.

“Do you want us to do it right now?” our dentist asked.

I looked at Dylan. All the color had drained from his face. He was terrified.

“Maybe next time,” I said.

And just like that, we weren’t on the same page anymore.

The Sensory Spectrum



Filed under brothers, dentist, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized


On Sunday night at bedtime, Riley roamed around the house repeating, “I can’t sleep without my brudder. I can’t sleep without my brudder.” It was heartbreakingly adorable. It was adorably heartbreaking.

Dylan has decided he wants his own room. This is big news for a few reasons, the first of which is that our house is small. I mean, it’s not that small. It has three bedrooms, but in my real estate fantasy, I’d have four bedrooms, four bathrooms, two offices (his and hers), a mud room, a craft room, a play room, a safe room (not for hurricanes but for when I need an “I’m going to hurt my children if I don’t hide with a glass of wine for a bit” time-out), a carpentry workshop, a man cave, an outdoor kitchen, a storage room, an IT room for the electronic crap equipment that’s currently buzzing and taking up too much space in my bedroom closet, a padded room for light saber fights, a guest house for my parents, and, last but not least, a wine cellar. But I digress. We have three bedrooms and none of the other stuff, and that isn’t going change anytime soon, which is fine except I’ll never stop pining for a craft room. Never!

A few years ago, the boys shared a room during a summer vacation. It went (mostly) swimmingly, so when we returned home, we made the boys permanent roommates. They’ve (mostly) peacefully shared a bedroom for two years, which has allowed us to use the third bedroom as a guest room, a storage room, and the official headquarters of The Runaway Mama.

Sidebar: We call the third bedroom Harry’s room because he spends most of his time in there lounging on the bed, staring out the window, sleeping, and farting.

It’s been a good set-up – the boys sharing a room, me having an office space, my parents having a place to sleep when they visit, and Harry having a spot to nap and fart, but like most set-ups (i.e. rhythms, schedules, routines, and habits) related to children and child-rearing, as soon as you get the least bit comfortable, they change. It’s the nature of the beast.

The second reason Dylan’s request for his own room is big news is that it was totally and completely his decision. Dylan and Riley are two years and four months apart. When Riley was born, and he was a teeny pooping, eating, and sleeping lump, their age difference was a big deal. Somewhere around the time Riley turned two, though, their age difference became less apparent, or less of an obstacle.

Riley gave up baby-hood early. He walked at ten and a half months, refused to sit in a stroller by the time he was one, and moved from the crib to a bed and gave up naps before he turned two. (I still hold a grudge about the naps.) Dylan, on the other hand, clung to baby-hood for dear life. His fears and anxieties (SPD-related) slowed him down. Not only were the boys similar emotionally, but also physically. They played well together and even shared some clothing. On a few occasions, I was asked if they were twins!

Presently, at ages four and six, the boys share socks, but other than that they are beginning to drift apart. During this life-changing (for all of us) Kindergarten year, Dylan has leaped ahead academically, emotionally, and socially. He reads. He rides big yellow school buses. He sings, “So-and-so and so-and-so, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” Whereas Riley still likes baths, Dylan prefers showers. Whereas Riley is still content with animation, Dylan loves seeing action-packed, 3D superhero movies. Whereas Riley still enjoys shows like “Dora the Explorer,” “Doc McStuffins,” and even “Lalaloopsy” (shh…don’t tell anyone), these “girly” shows cause Dylan to make contorted faces, roll his eyes, shout “Ewww!” and bury his face in a pillow.

With two boys close in age, we’ve had a household-wide sharing policy about toys, books, television, and, well, everything. This has been (mostly) a good thing, but Dylan is beginning to want some ownership of his things and his space.

There were a few times along the way when Mike and I thought about giving the boys separate bedrooms. It wasn’t fair for Dylan to have to endure Riley’s bedtime and/or 4am hysterics or for Riley to have to endure Dylan’s need to sleep with all of the lights on, but we hung on for selfish reasons (my office!) and because, despite the occasional hiccups, the boys liked being together. That, and Dylan wasn’t ready. If we ever mentioned separating them, Dylan would be the first one to say, “No, I don’t want to sleep alone.”

Now, he’s ready. He no longer needs flood lights to sleep, he’s not afraid to get in and out of his bed in the middle of the night or in the morning, and, most importantly, he wants privacy. He’s so excited about the move that’s he’s already started playing and sleeping in his future new room, which prompted Riley’s sad Sunday night announcement, “I can’t sleep without my brudder.”

Admittedly, Riley’s distress caught us by surprise. We sometimes get so wrapped up in Dylan’s challenges and triumphs that we forget about Riley’s. Sharing a room with Dylan is all he knows, but I’m happy to report he’s already adjusting, especially since we promised to make his room feel new. (In other words, we promised to buy him new stuff.)

Alas, Harry’s room will soon become Dylan’s room. There’s furniture to move and rearrange, accessories to purchase (Shopaholic Mama on a mission!), and a new routine to adapt. Wondering where my office will go? The hall closet. True story. I’m actually going to turn a closet into an office, which is funny because I often want to hide in a closet and now I can. The “renovation” will involve lots of shopping at The Container Store, a fresh coat of paint, copious amounts of decorative owls, and, if I have my way, a small wine refrigerator. Ha! Stay tuned for more posts and pictures of this project. (DIY Mama!)

The timing of Dylan and Riley’s needs and wants, likes and dislikes, and interests and activities will draw them together and pull them apart throughout their lives, but one thing that will never come undone (besides their everlasting love and adoration for their Mama) is their bond to one another. Even when they bicker. Especially when they bicker. Because they are brudders.


Do your kids share a room?


Filed under bedtime, boys, brothers, Harry, sensory processing disorder, Shopaholic Mama, shopping, wine