The Attachment Disorder, Part VI, or get this alien to bed.

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The Attachment Chronicles
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V


Maybe you’ve noticed that my posts of late look visually all suck-o. That’s because my best inanimate friend Big Computer had a great big Mac Attack and is in critical condition. So I can’t download fabulous pictures and am reduced to recycling photos I’ve already showed you. Sorry!

Whatevs on that. Maybe you don’t care. The real detritus left by the Mac Attack involves the utter despair of the Pterodactyl, who can no longer spend hours staring at things he wants from Amazon. He can do it on the iPad, but those images apparently aren’t large enough to feed his greedy brain.

Combine that with his recent extreme reluctance to go to bed, and the total equals bedtime disasters.

I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t want to go to bed. Dr. Dee pulled it out of him: I just don’t want the day to end, he said. I think my boy is so grateful each night to have made it through the day that he dreads having to do it again. That’s how hard he works to be a good little boy. His report card? Excels in all areas! He is a model student. He loves to be challenged in reading and math. Keep up the great work!

WHAT? Son of a bitch. Me being the bitch. He is a race car, using up all the expensive fuel and kickass tires to perform flawlessly on the track. I’m the pit crew. He sputters home on shredded tires, fueled by the fumes, weaving like a drunk, and I set about refurbishing him for another lap.


For example: the other night, at bedtime, the Pterodactyl refused to settle down until I fixed the Mac. Are there two more overused words in the parental lexicon than settle down? What does that even mean anymore? At that particular moment, it meant STOP TRYING TO POKE YOUR SISTER’S BOOTY WITH A MONSTER HIGH DOLL.

But I could not fix the Mac just like I cannot adjust the sprinkler system. Really, peeeps, I’m not as talented as you think I am.

And so began the tantrum. A huge, loud, threatening tantrum involving throwing, threatening, screaming, and big fat tears. Remember, in the throes of these tantrums, it’s like he has entered a fugue state. His communication is so vituperative and alien that I’m half-expecting his head to spin.

It lasted a solid 25 minutes. My role is to sit against his bedroom door so he can’t get out, and to make sure he doesn’t destroy anything that can’t be replaced  — Blue Puppy, the big piggy bank that was a gift from someone special, blankie. Also, I have to stay calm. This effort is brought to you by Cymbalta, and by breathing so deeply that oxygen was surely permeating my toenails.

Finally, he picked up a 5-foot plush sword he caught one year at a Mardi Gras parade and a steel mesh trash can. He pointed the sword at me and said, “THIS WILL NOT END UNTIL YOU PUT THIS TRASH CAN ON YOUR HEAD.”

“No,” I responded. “I’m not going to put a trash can on my head.”

He thrust the sword at me again and re-screeched his demands. This time I squinted at him as though to say, Really, son? This is what you want? but instead it was like the Alien Kidnapper was letting me temporarily peer inside my sweet son’s brain, and I saw the desperation in his eyes and the pleading in the downturned corners of his mouth. I got it. He needed closure as surely as a gate needs to be latched. He had mapped out this exit strategy, and if we didn’t follow the route, he would be lost.

“Okay,” I said. “Can I scrape the gum off the bottom?”


I slipped the metal can on my head while he stood there, an armed inmate holding the prison guard at his mercy. Then he put down the sword, helped me lift the trash can off my head, and slipped into my lap. He buried his head in my shoulder, and silently shook. “It’s over,” he whispered. “I’m sorry.”

And then I carried my little boy to bed.


  1. Dan H

    Well, now MY Mac doesn’t work and I blame you for the water damage. Shouldn’t have let my eyes get so close to the keyboard I guess.

    • Tricia

      Thanks, Dan. Heart you. Also, The Boss going to Jazz Fest. BOO-yah.

    • CorningNY

      Ditto the above comment.

      Your son just wanted what little control he could have. How wise to know when that’s OK and not manipulation.

      • Tricia

        CorningNY, thanks for reading — and yeah, I try to give way on the little stuff, save my authority for the big stuff. Come back soon!

  2. louise Mark


  3. Sherry

    I understand more the older I get. I wish I had your wisdom when I was a young mom. I have it now though as a older, yet still immature, Nana. Thanks for your heart thoughts.

    • Tricia

      Sherry, certainly any wisdom I have is born of age. Now I need the energy of a young mom…

  4. Robert

    Wow, makes my son leaving lights on seem pretty trivial.

  5. Nadia

    One of the things I love about your posts is that your emotional intelligence comes through. Your son is so lucky that you are so emotionally intelligent. You might not know what it’s like to be the Pterodactyl, but you try to understand. You realize that a trash can isn’t just a trash can—it’s so much more. A lot of parents would have been so caught up in the fact that it’s gross and socially unacceptable, they wouldn’t have realized the significance it has for Pterodactyl. I know it feels so hard, and you probably feel lost while you’re going through it, but in reality you are doing a great job.

    This sentence: “His communication is so vituperative and alien that I’m half-expecting his head to spin” really hit me. That’s what it boils down to. He probably feels alienated. That is exactly how I felt growing up. I felt like no one understands my pain. Even I didn’t understand my pain. I feel like something was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Now I realize the missing piece is self-love, but it took me years to come to that realization. It’s one thing to hear and say the word “self-love”, but it’s another to truly understand what it is and feel it.

    Most people learn to love themselves from their parents loving them. Adopted children and foster kids miss out on this initial piece. I don’t “feel” it when other people love me, because self-love is the “landing pad” used to allow others to love me. They have to tell me several times a day that they love me in order for me to “believe” it. For most people, it hurts that they have to tell me and I don’t just “know”. But what they realize is it isn’t about them, it’s about me and my attachment disorder. Without a landing pad, it’s like that love is thrown out like a ball, but I never catch it. And when you feel like nobody loves you (even if they do), that makes you feel like an alien in this world.

    Because attachment disorders mean you have a different “relationship language”, feeling alienated is a basic part of life. I know that a day doesn’t go by where I don’t feel alienated in some situation. When I’m with my family is when I feel the most alienated of all. I feel like I may as well be another species. I grew up sincerely believing I was. I felt like I was watching other humans, just an observer, while other people were actors. They went on with their lives, but I was something else because I didn’t understand their unspoken rules and expectations.

    I can’t speak for your son, and I don’t know what’s going on in his head, but my hope is that in sharing how I feel, that will help you with you and your son. I can relate so deeply to what he’s going through. In reading your posts, I have been crying like a baby because for once, someone has really put into words the feelings I’ve had for years. You’re an amazing writer. Thank you for putting into words what I, and I imagine so many others, can’t. I am so glad to have come across your blog.

    I know that to you I am some stranger posting on your blog, but for what it’s worth, I really think you should write a book. You have a lot to say that could help so many people. Look at what your blog has done—a book could reach even more people.

    • Tricia

      Thanks, Nadia, for reading so much of my blog, and I’m thrilled that we’ve found each other. Your words mean the world to me, and I’m feeling my own tears as I read what you’ve written. Thanks so much for sharing your stories, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

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