Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

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Tying Up Loose Ends


By the time I post this my Son and I will have completed the gauntlet that was hell week. The week leading up to the band trip to Orlando. 

The reason I’m calling this hell week is because there is something every night leading up to our Friday flight to Florida.

Monday night is parade rehearsal along with an after school orchestra rehearsal, Tuesday is a mandatory meeting about the trip, Wednesday is Spring concert rehearsal and Thursday is the Spring concert, after which uniforms and instruments will be collected so they can be transported to Florida via truck.

Full Calendar

Thank goodness they are not squeezing in luggage collection prior to our departure. I was worried about that. Two years ago luggage collection was the day before, but we left on a Sunday. The process has been simplified, with the students bringing their luggage with them the morning they leave. Of course they have to be at the school at the ungodly hour of 3:30AM, but at least they can sleep on the bus to the airport and plane.

My Son and I could have bowed out of this trip, and we did come close, but being his Senior year, we both figured it would be a great way to end his high school marching band experience. 

Knowing now that my Son won’t be attending a college that has a marching band I am grateful we did. (His college of choice offers pep band, jazz ensemble and symphonic band, so he will continue to play, he just won’t be marching.)

Looking Back

This trip truly plays into the “year of lasts” which I wrote about at the beginning of band camp in August. At this point, we have checked off quite a few “lasts” already (last band camp, last football season, last winter concert, etc.. ) and in all honesty as we draw closer to my Son’s graduation we most certainly feel like we are tying up loose ends.

Kind of funny “The Walking Dead” has done the same thing. Capping off Season 8 with the final battle between Negan and the Saviors, and Rick and company, with Rick’s gang winning, thus opening the door for a new beginning at the start of Season 9. Just as my Son and I will face a new beginning when he heads off to college in August.

Quite the nice parallel for the final months of this blog. Thank you TWD.

TWD Finale

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What Would Carl Do?


It was these very words that sparked a new way of parenting for me fours years ago, and became the catalyst for this blog.

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As any parent knows, dealing with a teenager creates a whole new level of challenges. As the hormones kick in, that once sweet, little, abiding child becomes a disconnected, zoned out, somewhat disrespectful foot-dragging walker. Testing you at every turn.

One has to get creative when approaching such a creature.

Zombie Teen

Just as I was at my wits end, it entered my mind that maybe, just maybe, by using “The Walking Dead” (our new found bonding agent) as a tuning fork, I could break through the teen brain fog and make a connection that my son would understand.

My Son had already connected to the character of Carl Grimes, the teenager on the show, so that was where I turned first.

With that in mind, I thought what better a way than then to ask, “What would Carl do?” at the times my Son was slacking and not carrying his share of the load. Or just plain not making wise choices about how he uses his time, particularly with schoolwork due.

The first time I said it, my Son heard me, immediately, and gave me a strange look, like “what are you up to?” I just smiled, said think about it and walked away.

Over time these words have evolved based on what Carl was up to on “The Walking Dead.” Some seasons Carl has been a beaming example for my Son, other seasons he proved to be “What Not To Do” and I used both to my advantage.

Yes, at times my Son got annoyed, but because he was annoyed, I knew he knew what I was getting at.

Of course Carl wasn’t the only character that made for great examples. There is a huge cast on TWD, with characters behaving badly and saintly, all of which make for examples. The subject matter of the show, surviving a zombie apocalypse, sets up for a plethora of behaviors ripe for the picking.

Some may think I’m crazy for even considering such a notion as to use fictitious characters as examples of what to do or not do in life, but I can honestly say I’ve seen growth with my Son since adopting this tactic.

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My Walker is Waking


As I work my way through the last year of writing this blog, I find deciding on the theme for the month becoming more challenging than when I started the blog four years ago. 

This is actually a good thing because it means my “walker” may actually be “waking” to the real world around him. The teenage brain fog is lifting, allowing my Son to get out of his head and be in-tune to his environment.

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I’m thrilled because this is key to finding success in college, which will be the next leg of his developmental journey.

Not saying we don’t still have challenges and there is some regression here and there, he is a teenager after all.

The good thing is there have been definite signs of growth over the course of the four years I’ve been writing this blog. My Son is discovering whom he is and has gotten comfortable in his own skin.

He is also starting to look to the future with excitement and gets that his actions now have a bearing on how that future plays out.

In addition, he gets that he will no longer have Mom as a buffer and has to get better at being “independent” in all areas, not just some. Just the fact that he acknowledges there are areas he needs to work on is a huge step.

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This all sets up for his success in the future which is all I hope and pray for.

Parenting is a challenging job and all too often over the years I have second guessed myself, so seeing positive results at this point in our journey is very gratifying.

I have no doubt that college will put before us a whole new set of challenges, but for now I will bask in the sunshine of my walker’s awakening.

So, during this the month of “Thanksgiving” when we all pause to count our blessings and ponder all we are grateful for, I most certainly can say I am joyous my “walker” is showing signs of “waking.”

I am also eternally grateful for all who have stood by, and continue to stand by, my side. Offering not only support, but also guidance. As a single parent I have never had a partner as a sounding board or buffer, it has been just me, facing some difficult decisions, so having access to outside council has been my saving grace.

Without it, I’m not sure we would be where we are in this journey. 

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As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and I have most definitely accessed mine and am beholden to all.

With my Son continuing to work on his driving skills in preparation for taking his driver’s test in hopes of getting his license, I am beyond thankful that he is “waking” and feel blessed that he did not rush into this extremely serious and responsible step prematurely.

Just like every other parent though, I can’t help but worry, praying that he does not relapse into “walker” mode while he is driving. 

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This however is a “theme” for another month. I want to hang onto the euphoria of my “walker waking” for as long as I can.

 

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2017. All rights reserved.

Meditation – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_lenm’>lenm / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Schooled by the Band


At any away football game, one never knows what you will experience from the home team fans. In general there are no major issues, but there are a few schools where the rivalry is pretty intense, so security tries to keep the students on their respective sides to prevent any clashes.

Over my Son’s high school years, his marching band has had to deal with some heckling as they exited the stadium, but in general it has not been that bad. That was until a game early this month, at which time our football team came out victorious after having lost in regular season to this particular team for the past 5 years.

We usually get a police escort when we exit at this school to aid in preventing any problems, but this time there were no police or even any security nearby. This obviously left the band vulnerable for abuse. Not just verbally either.

A bunch of kids were actually dodging in between the lines of band members as they tried to march. Of course they were trying to incite a fight. In addition, some of the group got in front of the band and took pictures as one of their buddies flipped the bird with the band behind him.

Their behavior was beyond rude and disrespectful.

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Through all of this the band members just kept marching, not reacting, only politely requesting these intruders get out of the way. Once the band got to the instrument truck the intruders disappeared.

They weren’t gone for good though, after the instruments were packed up and the kids were all on their buses, they reappeared. This time they took to getting physical by volleying rocks at one of the buses. Fortunately the kids on this bus had the windows closed, so no one was injured, but they succeeded in putting a hairline crack in a window.

Needless to say, the band kids were not only extremely shaken up, but also fired up by all of this. They knew they did the right thing in not reacting, but seeing some of their “family” frightened by the intruders truly incensed some of them. As they said, “We are family and no one messes with my family.”

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UNCERTAINTY


A year ago this month the carpet was pulled out from under my families’ feet. Our 94-year old Mother ended up in the hospital for a week with severe pneumonia. In addition, we were told she was in heart failure. That, combined with her dementia, landed her in a nursing home. The next four months turned into a roller coaster ride. Every time the phone rang and it was my Brother, I thought it would be bad news. We were all just waiting for the other shoe to drop. We lived in a constant state of “UNCERTAINTY” until the inevitable happened.

Roller Coaster

Uncertainty unfortunately is part of life and it doesn’t have to just apply to life and death situations. I believe in general most people get the concept that at any given time, their present situation could change. Not that we live in fear, but we are aware that in the blink of an eye something could happen that changes our lives, for the good or bad, permanently or temporarily.

 It is this very reason why I was offended when “The Walking Dead” show runner stated the reason they did what they did with the “Is Glenn alive or dead?” storyline was because they wanted the viewers to feel the “uncertainty” that these characters feel every day. Seriously? This is a slap in the face. Do they really think the viewers don’t get this already? We know the characters of “The Walking Dead” are living in a zombie apocalypse for goodness sake. We get that every day could be their last. We don’t need the writers rubbing our noses in it. And, we CERTAINLY don’t need our emotions toyed with for the sake of ratings or a media buzz.

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 It’s games like this that can lose viewers. We watch this show as a means of escape from the “uncertainty of the real world.” We become attached to the characters like they are family and mourn their loss just as we mourn are real life family. Not to the same extend as a living person, but we are affected emotionally by their loss. Which is precisely why we don’t need to play the waiting game in regards to the fate of our fictitious characters tooRead the rest of this entry »

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