The Water Cooler

This is the page where you can write anything you would talk about with other parents if you were ever just able to “hang out.” Imagine yourself sitting at a table, drink in hand, twirling your little umbrella while you recount the funny or sweet (or not so sweet) thing your child said or did. Then open your eyes, shake it off, and type it here instead.

  1. January 29, 2013 at 7:38 am

    “Mom, this is really good soup.” “Thanks, bud. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” “You know what my favorite part is? The crackers!”

  2. January 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    (James, getting out of bed this morning) “So how many degrees is it today?” “It’s negative 5.” “Oh, so not so cold then?” “5 below 0.” “Getting warmer!”

  3. October 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Me: So would you like me to touch up your hair or do you want to go to the barber?

    James: Why don’t you let the barber handle this process?

  4. September 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I called my mom, trying not to sound as crazy as I felt.

    “So, I checked the mail earlier and none of my packages came, which was really frustrating. But when I went to check later this evening, there they were, all stacked up neatly. In the hallway.”

    “What do you mean?” my mother asked.

    “I think the delivery guy let himself in to put the boxes in the hallway – I really thought I had locked up! How creepy – have you ever heard of such a thing? I miss the relative safety of apartment living – I mean, who opens someone’s front door to put their packages inside?!” I babbled.

    “The mail’s here,” James commented, sitting on the couch listening to me ramble.

    “Yes, I know – wait…” I eyed him. “Did you answer the door?”


    “Did you stack all of the boxes?” I asked, feeling more than a little foolish.



    “I told the mailman to come in and put them in a pile,” James replied.

    “Where was I?”

    “Plunging the toilet – he thought that was funny,” James said casually. “I told him it was gross, right?”

    The joys of pregnancy meeting homeownership continue.

  5. September 8, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Since the recent financial bloodletting (aka buying a house in NYC), I’ve been trying to cut back on our grocery bill by buying off-brand when possible. And as expected, nobody has noticed.

    Except James.

    “Mom, is this Foodtown mustard?!” he asked suspiciously.
    “Um, yes.”
    “Yes, James.”
    “Awesome!” he exclaimed. “Foodtown makes the best mustard in the whole town I bet!”

  6. August 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Ryan and James were getting ready for a tandem bike ride this morning to celebrate Summer Streets NYC. James asked, “How do you feel, Dad? Happy?” “Sure,” Ryan replied as he got ready.

    James came into the bathroom to have his teeth brushed. “When that guy is happy he’s my dad,” he said. “Oh, yeah?” I replied. “What about when he’s not happy?”

    James shrugged. “I don’t know – he could be Margaret’s dad then.”

  7. August 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Between all of the kids, but especially James, we have a regular schedule revolving around doctor visits so it’s no surprise that my 3 yr old likes to play doctor. What is interesting is what her impression of a doctor’s visit consists of – I was subjected to a surprise appointment on the couch this morning:

    M: Now lay still so I can tell you the truth.

    Me: The truth?

    M: I just need to measure your neck…. you have a very big neck.

    Me: Oh, thanks.

    (M produces a pullback racing truck and a plaster squirrel.)

    Me: What are those for?

    M: Doctor stuff. (sweetly) Now hold stiiilllll….. leave the truck right on your neck. Don’t. move.

    (Begins bouncing the squirrel on my neck and pregnant belly.)

    Me: Ouch, stop!

    M: Shhhhhhh…. just hold still for a second.

    Meanwhile, my 21 month old runs over to inspect. “Here’s a kiss, mom. All better!”

    I look over at my husband. “What the…?” He shrugs. “The squirrel probably makes as much sense to her as the rest of what goes on in those appointments.”

    True enough.

  8. July 26, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Today while walking to the park we passed a man slowly walking a small black puppy. All of my kids were instantly enamored and ran over to pet him, and James said to the owner, “Nice dog!”

    “Thanks,” the man replied.

    “Are you dragging him down the street?” James asked innocently.

    The man did not appear to be amused. “No, I’m taking him for a walk.”

    I felt my face redden as James persisted. “Do you know what dragged means?” he asked earnestly.

    I could see the man look confused, as if he wasn’t sure whether James was for real.

    “What?” he asked, rather cautiously.

    “Oh, well, dragged is like being pulled along down the street,” James explained. “Like you’re pulling that dog. He’s being dragged.”

    I turned my face away from the scene so nobody would see my dismal attempt at remaining serious. “Come on guys,” I said. “Let’s get to the park.”

    “That man is dragging his dog!!” my 3 year old daughter exclaimed, jumping wholeheartedly onto the bandwagon. “Right, James?”

    The man huffed loudly and moved past us with his reluctant puppy as fast as he could drag, I mean walk, him.

  9. May 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    One of James’s Top Ten phobias is the dentist, so I always make sure to go while he’s at school. Today I had to get a cavity fixed after a filling went wrong, and the whole right side of my face was still numb when I went to pick James up.

    “Hey, do you want to go get a special treat? I went to the dentist and can’t eat for a while so I need to get a milkshake because I’m starving,” I said.


    “Because I got a shot in my mouth and it’s numb.”

    “What?!?! That’s terrible!” James exclaimed, horrified.

    “Well, I needed a shot so I wouldn’t feel the drill,” I explained matter-of-factly.


    “Lots of people get them. It didn’t hurt, it was just a little uncomfortable.”

    “Well, I’m too smart to get a shot in my mouth,” James declared.

    “Oh yeah?”

    “Why did they need a drill?”

    “To drill out a cavity and fill it.”

    “Fill it with good energy? Is that why your mouth is numb?”

    “Yes, James. Something like that.”

  10. May 27, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I’m currently reading “The American Revolution” to James for bed each night. Ryan wasn’t home from work so I was also struggling to get through the chapter while my younger 2 settled down for the evening. You know, the usual – a game of tag, loud train and truck noises and Margaret “trying to read her own book” louder than i was reading to James (all in James’s room of course).

    As I finished the last sentence, “and they had blockaded the British in by land much like the British blockaded the colonists into Boston by sea,” James said casually, “kind of like Margaret and Adam blockaded you into my room, right?”

    Sometimes James hits the nail right on the head.

  11. May 18, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    “Drinking coffee has been linked to longer lifespans,” I called to Ryan as I scanned the headlines the other morning.

    “Yikes!” said James, pushing away his “coffee” cup (mostly milk with a splash of coffee). “That’s scary!”

  12. April 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    So I have started transitioning into maternity clothing the last couple of weeks, but they are still a little loose so my “belly band” has been a big help. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a belly band is basically a thick swath of elastic that pulls over your pants/waistline to keep your maternity clothing from falling down or your regular clothes on if you have to leave your pants unbuttoned (someone needs to rename this the Superbowl Swath and sell it to men for football Sundays).

    Anyhow, I was shimmying into the belly band this morning when Margaret walked up and asked, “Is that so the baby can’t fall out and get lost?” Stunned, I was caught momentarily speechless when James came up behind her and said, “No silly! That is the shield to keep the baby safe in there.”

    I let it be – protective armor seemed a more attractive way to go than explaining that mommy was really just too fat for her clothes (and God knows James would be blabbing that to everyone we pass for the next 4 months).

  13. April 24, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    This evening James and Margaret planned out everyone’s Halloween costumes. Apparently the four children (ages 2 weeks through 12 come Halloween) will be dressing up as the ghostbusters and I “can be a pumpkin so we can pew you with our ghost guns.”

  14. March 28, 2012 at 8:31 pm


    “Love you, bud. Good night,” I said as I closed the door. We had just finished another chapter of Black Stallion, and as routine dictated I brought James a fresh glass of water.

    “Mom, do you love highways?” James asked.


    “Do you love highways, you know, with trucks on them?”

    “James, what on earth are you talking about?”

    “Did you see chickens on the highway?”

    “What? …..what?”

    “Never mind, love you mom. Good night!”

    And I closed the door, wondering “what?!”

  15. March 15, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    “Mom, do you love me so much?” asked James yesterday morning.

    “You know I do. Do you love me so much?”

    “Mom, do you know how much I love you? I love you more than Canada,” James replied earnestly.

  16. March 15, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Over breakfast last weekend I commented to my husband, “Wow, his language has just exploded the last couple of months,” referring to my incredibly talkative 16-month old.

    Later on at the grocery store, James was chatting with our cashier (who knows the kids pretty well). “Adam’s leg exploded this morning,” he said. “What on earth are you talking about?!” I exclaimed. The cashier looked alarmed and repeatedly glanced at my toddler’s legs.

    “You said his leg exploded,” James replied conversationally. “To dad.” I quickly finished checking out, chuckling, but also getting some pretty strange looks.

  17. November 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    As if I needed affirmation that we are overbooked:

    James was looking at our family calendar as I cleaned up the kitchen this evening. He asked me what the date was and I told him it was the 30th. After reading through the month for a minute, James flipped the page to December and exclaimed excitedly, “Hey mom! I think you forgot to fill in a couple of squares on this page!”

  18. November 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Living with special needs is failing to consider the noise a new winter jacket will make, causing James to flap his arms wildly all the way to school just to hear the material “swish.”

  19. November 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Tonight while reading “The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary” James casually mentioned, “We should go to Diary of a Wimpy Kid World and meet the real Greg Heffley.” Thinking of Harry Potter world, I said, “Oh yeah? Where is that – Universal Studios?”
    James responded, “Vancouver, Canada.”

    I had to look that one up. It turns out the movie was filmed there – the things you learn, right?

  20. October 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    When it comes to James my motto has generally been “the more people who know about him the more people there will be to help.” I actually hand out copies of James’s IEP at some of our meetings so that people can see what his disability it and what kind of services we ask for. James looks pretty “normal,” so most people don’t automatically see him and think he’s disabled. I especially enjoy telling strangers about his disability when they say something nasty to him for not saying “Hello” back or for bumping into them because he is in one of his spacey moods. I say loudly, “He’s disabled and is having an off day. Please don’t upset him – he didn’t mean it.” Even if the other person doesn’t care, they are usually shamed by the other people standing around who heard what I said.

    I could write way too much on this topic, but to answer briefly, I do think that excuses made by well-meaning friends, family, and professionals impair a child’s ability to learn new skills and grow emotionally. But I think this applies to special needs children as well as typical children.

    I don’t think it is “wrong” to hide information – it is your personal decision and your privacy. That being said, we usually give out basic information that will help explain a behavior situation so that James is not thought of as a “bad kid.” Honestly, I would rather them think we have a disabled child than a poorly behaved typical child. Then again, who cares what everyone else thinks, right?

    Would love to hear other opinions on this one.

  21. October 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Today is Adam’s birthday so on the way home James and I were talking about everyone’s birthdays in our family. “Adam is 1 in October,” I said. “And my birthday is in November and Dad is in December.” “How old will you be?” asked James. Upon hearing my reply, he said quietly to himself, “That is the craziest oldest number I ever heard.”

    Kids just say the darndest things sometimes…

  22. September 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Sitting at the table after school with James today he mumbled, “you’re so pretty” as he read through his chapter book. It’s not uncommon for James to lavish compliments on people, but I was still startled and pleased that he was calling his own mother pretty. What a sweetheart, I thought. To verify I said, “who’s so pretty?” to which he responded by pointing at himself. Now I was confused. “You’re so pretty?” I asked. “No, soup’s ready,” he replied. “Could you get it for me?”

    Thus subtly slamming me back into reality.

    • melissa
      November 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

      this one made me cry. my daughter is non-verbal and globally delayed and i have so many fantasies about having a “normal” life with her. one of which is her telling me i look pretty after we get dressed for an outing. not because i am vain but because i dreamt of having a daughter who would brush my hair and pick my outfits like i did with my mom. but she doesn’t do that and and has no interest in it whatsoever. i tell myself that even without the disabilities she may not have been interested in that sort of stuff anyway but i will never know. i read that james often doesn’t remember things that just happened (i read your article in special parent magazine) but i think i would love to hear my daughter say it even if she forgot it right after. i guess i would love to hear anything, really. she’s nonverbal.

      • November 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

        James didn’t speak a word until he was 4 and a half, so I know the feeling of wanting to hear anything, even a single word. As my two younger children grow the discrepancy between James and “normal” kids becomes more apparent, and even though I love him dearly I think it is natural to feel a sense of loss for what could have been. Is your daughter your only child?

  23. September 13, 2011 at 2:36 am

    James has been having a rough week as he readjusts to school, especially when he is waking up in the morning and as his meds wear off around dinnertime. This is not unexpected, but still pretty annoying at times. James was arguing with me as we sat at the table about taking a shower, a favorite “chore” of his to complain about. “Mom, it’s too hard,” he whined. “James you are going to bed at 7 o’clock tonight if you don’t shape up,” I replied (bedtime is usually at 8 on school nights).

    “No, 6,” he replied grumpily. I paused, uncertain of how to continue this argument – James was obviously talking back, as evidenced by the tone of his voice and crossed arms. But, as you can tell by now James struggles with time, both in how to tell it and in the sense of when things happen. “Okay, 6,” I said exasperatedly as I got up to bring dishes into the kitchen.

    My 2 year old was sitting at the table coloring. “7,” she goaded James. “You’re going to bed at 7.” “No, 6!” James retorted. “7,” she said. “6, leave me alone!”

    Needless to say, we started bedtime quite early in our house this evening.

  24. July 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    We have a basketball hoop hanging in our foyer that has gotten good use. So while I’m cleaning up from dinner I hear James say to my 2 yr old, “Want to play some 1-on-1 or 3-on-3?” She says, “3-on-3!” I smile because I know James has no idea what 3-on-3 is, until I hear each of them taking the ball and shouting “1-2-3!” as they throw it at the little hoop.

  25. July 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    So far it’s been a pretty big adjustment for me going from having James in school to being on vacation for a week to now starting the summer with all three kids home.

    Apparently I’m not the only one feeling it. Today James came up to me and said, “Mom, I’m not feeling very entertained.” I repeated, “Entertained?” He said, “Yeah, there is not a lot of entertainment here and I need something to do.”

    Only 8 weeks to go!

  26. June 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I could hear my daughter in James’s room – the door was closed but she was definitely shouting. Uh-oh, I thought. Here we go again. Before entering I pressed my ear against the door.

    “Except for the toe one! Except for the toe one!” she was screaming.

    I burst in, expecting the worst.

    My two year old was running around the room, shaking James’s Harry Potter wand at him. James was patiently repeating, “No, say ‘Expecto Patronum’ or you won’t get a good patronus.”

  27. June 15, 2011 at 10:14 am

    At the playground the other day, James casually mentioned to a mom sitting nearby, “These strawberries have zero trans fats, so we can eat as many as we want.” I got a reaaalllly weird look. So to that mom and everyone else: I swear I have not spoken about the evils of trans fats with James, and in fact am not even sure which are the good or bad fats myself!

  28. June 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Random thought of the day, brought to you by James: “It’s really hard to eat peanuts in the wind.” Casually mentioned on our way home from the playground because of an impending storm.

  29. June 9, 2011 at 2:11 am

    James was in a grumpy mood on the way home from the playground and I was telling him about our upcoming vacation in an effort to distract him and improve his mood. He was still being really belligerent as I explained about the whale watching boat so in exasperation I said “If you don’t cheer up I am going to throw you over the side of the boat to the sharks.” Not my finest moment, obviously.

    James replied, “I’m going to throw you to the sharks and they’re going to eat you for dinner,” To which I replied, “Oh yeah? Then who is going to make your dinner once I’m eaten by sharks?”

    There was a long pause and then James said, “You better watch out for sharks in that water.”


  30. June 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

    After baseball on Sunday I noticed that James was wearing his pants backwards. “How do you put your pants on backwards and not notice all day?” I said exasperatedly. Later that evening as I got my pajamas on I noticed a tag sticking out of my underwear. In the front.

  31. May 17, 2011 at 9:26 am

    This morning while James was eating breakfast there was a huge flash of lightning and a sudden, LOUD, rumble of thunder. I stopped dead in the kitchen and waited for the ensuing screams that usually followed thunder. Nothing. Was James paralyzed in fear? Had the volume knocked him unconscious? I walked out to the table where James sat eating his waffles. “God must be trying for a perfect score up there,” James said calmly. “Yeah, that sounded like a strike to me,” I said. I walked back into the kitchen where I silently threw a fist in the air in victory – the first thunderstorm without James crying!

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