Waking the Walker

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

Tag: survival

At a Crossroads Without a Compass

In 1995, at the age of 34, I walked out of a dead-end marriage. I was beyond stressed, not just about my marriage, but work too.

Anyone who has ever worked in advertising or marketing can relate to the ridiculous levels of stress one can experience in this world. In the beginning it was exciting, but one can only take all that BS for so long, and I had been at for 15 years.

I felt trapped at work and home. I felt like there was no way out.

Dead End Sign Maze No Way Out Danger Warning 3d Illustration

It was a co-worker who encouraged me to just set a date, and leave my husband. At first I thought the idea was nuts.

How do you just do that?

The worse things got though, the more it made sense. 

I knew I could only tackle one life-sucking situation at a time. Leaving my husband was a lot easier than figuring out what to do about my job, especially because the stress of the two made me brain-dead.

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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.


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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Be Prepared – Plan Ahead

Life can be unpredictable, so having a plan and a willingness to be flexible can be the keys to survival. Yes, there are times when it’s important to live in the moment, but being prepared allows those moments to be even more memorable.

Having a plan or at least a rough outline, especially for long-term things, keeps life more fluid, even when you run into obstacles. This can apply to everything from your chores to your retirement, or in my Son’s case, his homework.

Be Prepared

Some people work best under pressure, but living your life that way is not healthy. And when it comes to schoolwork, can reflect poorly on the end product, which in turn will hurt your grade.

Another piece of the “be prepared” puzzle is time management, which is one area my Son can struggle, especially when it comes to long-term projects. The whole concept of taking advantage of free time to get ahead doesn’t even enter his mind. When the work that’s due tomorrow is done, it’s time to play. This is not just poor planning; it’s just not smart when larger projects are looming on the horizon.

I constantly remind my Son that even though there might be an extended period of time to complete a project, in that time, other things can get in the way of completing the task successfully. So, when one has time, one should get a head start on said project. Or, at least plan out a certain amount of time daily dedicated to the project, not just wait till the night before it’s due.

18818008 - vintage conceptual illustration of time is running out

This is something I feel my Son isn’t completely grasping, although his recent comment in regards to how his English teacher has structured their term paper writing process makes me believe it’s starting to sink in. He noted that he feels the teacher is having them compose the paper a paragraph at a time as homework because if not the bulk of the students would put it off until the night before it was due.

I almost fell off my chair. Does this mean he would not have been one of those procrastinators?

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