Waking the Walker

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

Tag: The Walking Dead

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.

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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WTW Is Coming Full Circle


If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you know oh to well the show returns February 25th. And with it’s return, the undoubted departure of a well-loved character.

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Spoiler Alert –

If you are not caught up with TWD, please do not read any further.

Read the rest of this entry »

Our TWD Summer Road Trip – 2017 Edition


Just as we did in July of 2014, my Son and I ventured to Georgia for another TWD Summer Road Trip. I would have liked to do this later in June, as to give us some time to regroup after a grueling Junior Year and 2 weeks filled with a ton of extra stuff, but that would have meant 2 of us in my department at work out at the same time, and that’s just not cool when there’s only 4 of us.

So, Thursday, June 15th, the day after my Son’s last final exam, we hit the road. Needless to say, we got a late start, but we were not doing any site seeing on the exodus South, so I was not concerned.

The total drive time was approximately 12 hours, with our goal to do 8 hours Thursday and the rest of the way on Friday.

Day One we went from PA, through MD, WV, VA and spent the night in Gastonia, NC. I knew some of the roads in VA could be challenging because of the truckers and the hills, but this time things were exasperated by downpours that slowed traffic down to 25 mph.

In addition, there were the crazy drivers who think a speed limit of 70 gives them the right to do 90. Throw in construction in the heaviest traffic and you’ve got a less than appealing road trip, AND, one that took longer then the estimated 8 hours.

At least my Son was very entertained by some new “colorful” expressions that came out of my mouth.

It was a good thing we stopped for a late lunch, because till we got to the hotel around 10 PM, we had no desire to cross a highway just to get dinner. We settled for popcorn and for me an adult beverage.

The next morning, we were refreshed and ready to go. We headed out for the rest of the journey to Georgia, which we extended an hour to get us to Macon, where the Allman Brothers’ Museum, the Big House, is located.

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As an Allman Brothers fan, especially Greg, I couldn’t be that close without checking it out. Halfway there though, I came close to bagging it and heading to Fayetteville where we were staying for the duration of our visit.

Why you ask?

The traffic on I75 made all the craziness we saw on the first leg of our sojourn seem relaxing.

I am convinced having a speed limit of 70 gives insane drivers what they perceive as permission to drive even faster and without any care for anyone else on the road. Or, maybe it’s just our society, the “me first” mentality is everywhere, and it’s getting worse, but that’s a subject for another post.

We persevered and did make it to the Big House, which I am grateful for. The place was amazing. It is the very house Duane, Greg and Berry Oakley lived during the early years of the band. Everything was impeccably preserved and laid out in a chronological, laying out every detail of the bands journey.

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You could feel the energy as we walked through the front doors. I got chills standing in Duane’s room and the kitchen where “Ramblin Man” was written.

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This visit was definitely for me. My Son thought the place was cool, but didn’t get the significance when it comes to the history of music. Hopefully when he gets older it will sink in.

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From the Big House we trekked to our Airbnb rental in Fayetteville. The moment we stepped through the door of this basement apartment it felt like we were home, which we greatly appreciated after our trying two-day exodus.

The apartment was stunning and beautifully decorated. We also had access to the pool and lake; unfortunately we were on the go so much our pool time was limited.

I was beyond happy that I decided to go this route. Julia and her family were amazing hosts and we look forward to hopefully returning one day. If anyone decides to head to the Atlanta area, I highly recommend looking Julia up.

Saturday, June 17th, we headed into Senoia for Dad’s Zombie Road Trip with Will Riggs, Chandler Riggs’ (AKA Carl) real Dad. He does a walking and a driving tour.

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We opted for the walking tour because the areas he drives to are ones we had seen on our 2014 trip. The walking tour is 1 1/2 hours centered around Senoia, which was Woodbury in TWD, and the Alexandria Safe Zone, which is a housing development right next to downtown Senoia.

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On our previous trip in 2014, we had explored Senoia a little bit, but not with the behind the scene stories Will dished out at every stop. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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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.

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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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Here We Go Again


They say history repeats itself until the lessons we need to learn are learned.

Personally, I believe this is true. Generally because we don’t either consciously acknowledge there is a lesson to be learned in the first place. Or, we refuse to change the behavior that triggered the problem, even when we know it will help.

I see this too often with my Son for both reasons. And, sometimes because he just won’t listen to Mom’s suggestion as to how to remedy the problem that has arisen, which could sort of fall into the “refusing to change behavior.”

This is the very reason I find myself repeating similar themes periodically. It is a vicious cycle.

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We just went through this during the last marking period. My Son, with permission from his teacher, chose to use his personal copy of the book they were reading in English. Early on though, there were some red flags. Red flags signaling it might be best to also get one of the school’s versions of the book to at least keep at home as back up and reference.

The night of the first assignment related to the book, my Son forgot his copy of the book in his locker. Why? He had taken it to school earlier to get approval to use and decided to store it his locker. His locker can become the black hole, so “storing” anything in it is never a good idea.

Next came poor communication between him and his teacher. Freaked out about forgetting the book, my Son emailed the teacher. Now I did not see her response, but based on what my Son stated, he only needed to track down a bio on the writer and he would be fine.

Note, while waiting for the teacher’s response, I suggested my Son look for a free copy of the book online because the book was no longer under copyright. He declined for more ridiculous reasons then I care to include, but when he got a response from the teacher, he was content with what the teacher told him and felt it wasn’t necessary.

Add to this, had he checked the teachers website, as I also suggested, he would have discovered that he most certainly needed more than a bio. Plus, there was a link to not only a pdf of the book, but also an audio copy.

Needless to say, when he took the test the next day, he was not prepared and did poorly, which lead to the end of the world drama I wrote about last month.

Fast forward to the end of the marking period and a shaky English grade looming in the wings. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking Bad Habits


With a new year upon us, I have renewed energy and good intentions to change the things I know aren’t working or need tweaking in my household, thus creating a healthier environment for my Son and I. We all have bad habits. We are human after all and therefore not perfect. The issue though is whether we recognize them and realize they need to be broken.

As I have written about in the past, I can trigger rather quickly when frustration sets in and the bulk of my frustration comes from my Son’s lack of action. As the frustration builds so does my temper. With temper comes yelling, and some choice words, both of which I am not proud of.

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I know I can’t change my Son.

All change has to come from within. One has to want to change; otherwise all efforts will be half-hearted and set you up to fail.

So the key here is for me to find a way to prevent frustration from setting in or find a way to redirect my frustration and defuse the temper before it triggers. I know this is easier said than done, because if it were I would have mastered it already.

My Son does not see or understand my frustration. He believes I am a nag.

The dictionary defines nag as: to find fault incessantly; to be a persistent source of annoyance or distraction; and to irritate by constant scolding or urging.

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Considering the fact that my Son sees my questions or suggestions as me finding fault or badgering, not as helpful, by definition, in his mind I fit the bill.

Over the years I have stepped back from checking on my Son too much, particularly about schoolwork. I know he has to learn how to manage his time and workload on his own.

But, when his poor planning or work habits interfere with say our dinnertime, frustration sets in. Or things he used to do without any reminding, like practicing his trombone, or taking the garbage out, become a constant reminder, frustration sets in. Especially when he can still find time to game or watch an endless stream of useless videos on YouTube, which on some occasions is what he’s doing when he shows up late for dinner.

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Now I’m not begrudging the need for my Son to take a break, but when the break lasts longer than the time spent doing homework, chores or college preparatory projects, frustration sets in. Read the rest of this entry »

Time is a Walker


Why is it, the older I get, time just seems to fly by at the blink of an eye? And this time of year it feels like it’s moving at warp speed and all the things that need to get done are speeding by like a big blur.

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My “To Do” list changes hourly, not daily, as I cross tasks off and revise. Tackling tasks based on due dates, like if it needs to get shipped, when is the latest date I can ship and still have the package arrive in time for Christmas.

Since my Son hit high school and is part of the marching band, my free time is even more limited during the football season. If the team makes the playoffs, which it has every year, the time I have to accomplish holiday tasks is seriously compromised. Add to it my hospital stay the beginning of November (see my post Dealing with Sudden and Unexpected Change https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/dealing-with-sudden-and-unexpected-change/) which ate up the last of my vacation days and I’m more than strapped. Forced to only having weekends to get the big tasks done was been daunting.

Early in the month, as I contemplated all I needed to accomplish before Christmas Day arrived, I realized it felt like a horde of Walkers, adorned in ratty, blood and guts covered, extremely ugly holiday sweaters, was chasing me down. I didn’t have a tank to climb in, Daryl to swoosh in on his bike to rescue me, a walker guts poncho to mask my smell or a dumpster to crawl under. It was just me, armed with my list and the Walkers were getting closer no matter how fast I moved.

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Even the best time juggling, multi-taskers can fumble and look like Andrea handling a gun for the first time. The safety is on and the Walkers have broken through the front doors. It’s time to panic, OR get resourceful and creative, just as the gang on “The Walking Dead” does when they are pinned into a corner.

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Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with Sudden and Unexpected Change


OK, so I may not have awaken from a coma to discover that the dead are roaming the earth in search of fresh meat, but when you go to the ER thinking your stomach and back pain is due to a side effect from a medication and find out it’s a renal infarction which is very rare, and, you need to be admitted to the hospital to have more tests run to find out what caused this, your world is most definitely turned upside down, just as Rick Grime’s (Andrew Lincoln) was when he awoke in “The Walking Dead.”

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After waiting for 3 hours to be seen, and then a battery tests, I was told at 1:30 AM what my diagnosis was and that I was being admitted. I began to panic. My son was home sound asleep, having gone to bed thinking his Mom would be home at some point during the night. My first thought was, what if my son doesn’t wake up on time and misses the bus?

Plus, he will freak out when he realizes Mom is not home.

This was all deja vu from 2009 when I landed in the hospital for a week with pneumonia with sepsis. My Son was in elementary school and this was most definitely a scary time for him. Thank goodness one of my sisters could come and stay with him so as not to disrupt his routine.

As a teen he could stay by himself, but on the first morning I needed to get someone to stop at the house to be sure he’s up and doesn’t miss the bus. Plus tell him what’s going on. Read the rest of this entry »

GUILT – Motivator or Inhibitor


One morning this lovely month of October the challenge to get my Son up and moving in the morning was amplified when he missed the bus. If you are a regular reader, you know this is a long-standing problem, and one in which I have exhausted every possible idea as to how to change it. I have told my Son he has to find a method that works because when he’s in college I won’t be there to constantly push him to move. Basically he has to be part of the solution not the problem. It’s obvious this has not quite sunk in yet.

On this particular morning though, I was coming off a bad day the previous day and was not feeling well, so I was not a happy camper to begin with when my Son reappeared at the front door after I had warned him his lack of speed could result in missing the bus. This meant I had to hurriedly finish getting myself together and leave 10 – 15 minutes earlier than normal so I could get him to school on time.

Note, I could have taken him late, but he is up for National Honor Society and too many late/tardies will go against him.

Needless to say I had a few choice words, which my Son did not appreciate, even knowing this was the direct result of his lack of action. Trust me, I know yelling is not the answer, but how long is it going to take for my Son to realize his actions or lack there of, effect other people? He’s close to being 17 and even though he can see this in other people, he doesn’t seem to see it himself. At times he has also tried to throw the blame onto others, including me. This infuriates me, but part of maturity is taking responsibility for your actions, which he does more often than he used to, but in this case, he did not and tried to throw it back on me.

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How you might ask? I went to push his hair out his eyes as he was leaving and he paused to look at it in the mirror, wanting to be sure I didn’t mess it up. So, because I made him pause, it was my fault. This took just a matter of seconds. The extra 10 – 15 minutes he lost dragging his butt out of bed certainly had more bearing on his late exit than those seconds. Once those words came out of his mouth he quickly regretted them. My tirade escalated with this and I pointed out that this was all on him.

I was not at all surprised when his next words were “why do you always make me feel guilty?” In this case he most definitely should feel guilty, but by saying this he was indirectly attempting to throw guilt back at me. Again, very much the wrong thing to do in this case.

Guilt is a funny thing. Sometimes it pushes us to go over and above to make up for whatever indiscretion brought that emotion on. While other times, it makes us feel less than whom we are, thus holding us back from fully developing. Or, it pushes us into making excuses for not following through. “I’m not good enough, why bother?” I’ll never add up to anything, so why bother?” A defense mechanism to ease the pain that comes with the guilt.

GUILT is defined as “a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong.”

When we know we’ve done something wrong, whether it be through our words or actions, it can haunt us until we make things right. We need to own up to our actions and accept the consequences. It’s not easy, but it’s the “grown-up” thing to do.

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The thinking part on the other hand can really wreck havoc with our lives. We can play head games with ourselves, over analyzing our words and actions. Believing we did something wrong that directly caused pain for another, when in actuality the other person may not have been phased. Or, we read into something that was said or done and believe the other person was directly blaming us for whatever occurred. When again, the other person has moved on and not given it second thought.

I know for myself I have done this on more than one occasion, particularly since becoming a parent. I have at times beat myself up if I felt I was too hard on my Son or got angry and yelled when staying calm would have been the better tactic. I have most certainly worried that some of my actions may be why my Son may not be achieving all I believe he can.

Classic Parent Guilt I suppose, but you can’t help yourself. You want your kids to be all they can be, so when your kid tells you “you always make me feel guilty” even when you know he’s just trying to throw the blame, you can’t help but step back and wonder if your child might be right. Read the rest of this entry »

Fear of the Unknown


We all experience fear in some way throughout our lives. It’s a normal human emotion. With every stage or rite of passage in our lives, apprehension can set in, it’s all part of the growth process.

As children our fears tend to be simple and easily eased by an adult. As we age though, the things that make us pause become a bit more serious. These are the things that are tied directly to our future.

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A wrong decision could change the course of our lives forever, which is why I completely understand my Son’s apprehension when it comes to driving.

By our teens, fear of the unknown can be extremely polarizing, preventing us from moving forward and possibly stunting our emotional health. To be honest, polarization can happen at any age, and again, we’ve all probably experienced some level of it at some point in our lives. As a parent though, it’s my job to help guide my Son through these polarizing experiences so he can move forward.

The question is how to do this without seeming pushy or prying?

Read the rest of this entry »

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