Waking the Walker

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

Tag: teen zombie brain

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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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.

29214417 - illustration of a male teen doing yoga

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.


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. 


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. 


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>

Walking Among the Walkers

With the end of the regular football/marching band season the beginning of this month, I’ve been thinking about how valuable the experience of chaperoning 260 teenagers really is, particularly for a single Mom. I have truly been “walking among the walkers” for weeks now, and will continue to as long as the playoffs go. The funny thing is, I have for the most part gone unnoticed, kind of like when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Glenn Rhee (Steven Yuen) from “The Walking Dead” cover themselves in “walker guts” so they can go unnoticed in a horde of walkers in hopes of getting to a vehicle so they can escape the overridden city of Atlanta. Carol (Melissa McBride) does the same thing so she can mingle with walkers to get into Terminus in order to free Rick and his gang in the Season Five opener. The stunt worked in both cases and for the most part works for me too.Glenn and Rick, walker guts

Granted, I’m not covered in “sweaty teenager stink” but because these kids hormone riddled brains keep them stuck in their own worlds, they are oblivious to parent chaperones standing right next to them. That is until you catch them saying or doing something inappropriate and you make yourself visible, then, all it takes is the look and they know they’re being watched. At least when they become aware of your presence, they don’t chase you down and try to make you dinner like a walker would.

Remaining anonymous aids me in getting into the psyche of the teenage “aka walker” brain and reminds me I was once a walker too and I would never want to go back to High School. It’s allowed me to step outside of my role as my son’s Mother and try to look with empathy at the plight of a high school student. The world today is vastly different than my high school years and there are plenty more pressures put on kids today. Not just from the teachers but from parents, like me. Teen Horde

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OK, my son’s freshman year of high school came to a close June 15th and I should be thrilled that we have made it through somewhat unscathed. The operative word here is “somewhat.”

Granted, being his freshmen year in high school, I anticipated more challenges then his middle school years, so I was “somewhat” prepared. Besides the standard concerns of a larger work load, adjusting to a bigger school meant more ground to cover between classes, which was at the top of the list. For all of you who have been following my blog, you’re well aware that my son is not always good about plotting a plan, which in this case was mandatory. Fortunately, with the help of his guidance counselor, he figured out the right routes and when to make locker stops to eliminate the tardy to class issue that popped up early in the year.

Another fear was marching band. Could he handle the intense pre-school summer camp and football games every Friday night for two months, plus playoffs? Could I too? There were some adjustments to make with my work schedule in order to pull off the early arrival time each week, but, my son and I made it through camp and football/parade season like we had done this all in a past life. He didn’t even complain and actually had fun. I breathed a little sigh of relief.

red flagUnfortunately, it was a bit too early to let my guard down. As the year progressed, history began to repeat itself in the academic area, which is what disturbs me and is curbing my enthusiasm for the end of my son’s freshman year. It’s obvious he isn’t learning from his past mistakes. As he did all through middle school, he started the new school year with gusto, excited to get back to school and new challenges, but by mid-year, red flags began to appear. There were missed assignments, an occasional poor test/assignment grade and zoning out in class, as noted in e-mails from his teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, some subjects he’s breezed right through: History, English, German, Band and believe it or not Gym, he’s stayed consistently in the A department, but, in Engineering, Math, and even Science, his grades have bounced up and down, to include almost failing engineering and having some failing test grades in math. By the end of the second and third marking periods, he pulled his final grade up and made honor roll, but, just the fact that he got to this point is very alarming to me. Especially the Math troubles. Math was always his thing. After he missed a week of school due to the flu in eighth grade, he did have a few issues with algebra 1, but by the end of the year, he seemed to be back on track. This year it’s a different story, as of now, he’s teetering on a “C” as a final grade in math. He’s not happy and neither am I. Particularly when his new interest is computer programming. Can’t be a programer without a mind for math.
Zoned Out Teen
I would love to blame this on the virtual gaming world my son loves so much, but, since the issue isn’t across the board, I know it’s more than that. Needless to say, he’s had to hustle to get really good grades on the last couple math quizzes and tests in order to help pull his grade up, but, now everything is hinging on his final exam. With that in mind, I’ve amped up my ammo and brought in a tutor. Not just for final exam prep, but for the summer. He’s not getting off that easy, I’m well aware of the threat of idle minds over the summer and the damage that can be done. Makes the walkers on “The Walking Dead” look like hordes of roaming intellectuals. Because of this, I’m extremely concerned about what the summer will do to my semi-de-zompified teenage son’s brain. Any advances he did make over his freshman year could be overridden much too quickly if his mind is left to vegetate in the gaming world he thinks he’s going to spend his summer vacation in. Read the rest of this entry »

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