Friday, September 18, 2015


The Full Spectrums went to see a movie a few weeks ago, which is, in itself, a rarity. We went with my Meeting Friend and her family, and chose the only movie that was playing in a matinee, Mr. Holmes.

During a sad, moving part of the movie where Sherlock is really, really old and feeble and decrepit and does something pathetic, Z suddenly laughed aloud. I cringed. Perhaps she was uncomfortable, but it just felt very awkward and inappropriate...I tried to convince myself it was a mistake, but it happened again a few minutes later during a similar part. Everyone else in the theater was quiet...real quiet.  

“Good luck getting old,” said my Meeting Friend as we left the theater. As we always do, my dear MF and I looked for the bright side: “She’s very practical and realistic!” we assured one another; “Great sense of the absurd!”

On another note, the Full Spectrum children are very into any and all Secret Agent/Detective-y stuff, and were absolutely fascinated by the way Sherlock Holmes can detect things about people just through observation. As we walked back to the car, I asked them what Sherlock Holmes could know about them just by using his powers of discernment.

Z answered immediately:”That I’m a sister, and that I was adopted.”

All G had to say was, “That I’m awesome!” [See forthcoming post, “AND MODEST, TOO.”]

I wanted to hear more from both children, though I found Z’s response quite touching, so I told them, “For me, I think Sherlock Holmes could tell that I am a mother, wife, and artist. Those are the most important things to me.”

“I’m awesome,” G repeated.

“I’m mean,” said Z. Though it’s sometimes true, I don’t think mean is who Z is. I looked at her skeptically. “Well...I can be mean,” she amended.

“Don’t you want to change that?”

“What do you mean?” One thing that IS who Z is is a master obfuscator.

“Don’t you want to not be mean?”

She paused. For a while. “...Yeah.”

“Do you think you can change? I do! You’re just a kid still!”

“I think” – very matter-of-fact – “I will always be a little bit mean.”


“I don’t know, but I can tell I always will.”

“Well...that is something you will always have to work on then,” I assured her. “I know you can do that.”


Hmm. Guess that conversation was over. (WHO, exactly, is in control all up in here?)

When I started writing this blog, I did not know anyone “like us;” I felt alienated, alone, and, much worse, so confused about parenting my two very different – from each other, from the “norm” -- children.

I felt like a failure in the most important role I’d ever had: motherhood.

I did not know, back in the day, that Z’s seemingly cruel laughter, her obfuscation, her self-proclaimed meanness are all attachment-disordered behaviors. I would have blamed myself for not raising her to be kind...I would have blamed her for being unkind and manipulative.

A number of factors (my own kinds of detective work: reading, researching, developing an online community, meeting others through the blog, finding a good specialist in attachment disorders, having a Meeting Friend) have helped me to become someone who is able to share the fruits of my detective work  in hopes of reaching people who feel as I have felt in the past (confused, alone) and feel now in the present (confused, alone, AND inspired, connected, and – every so often – just a little wise in my old age).

As for Z, if I were to name a third fundamental aspect of her identity that Sherlock Holmes might have discerned, I would say that she has a fabulous, quite broad sense of humor. That may be her, and OUR, saving grace.

Full Spectrum Mama


  1. This reminds me of an odd problem I used to have when I was a kid. I used to laugh when other people got hurt. I don't know why... It wasn't that I didn't like them or that I wanted them to be hurt. But for example, for the few months that my parents forced me to be on a soccer team, sometimes a kid would get hurt, and all of us would have to sit down on the field and wait while the adults tended to the hurt kid. And I would have to try really hard to keep myself from smiling and laughing, because I knew I wasn't supposed to! Never figured out why!

    1. Discomfort????
      Let's hope that's why for Z too!
      Thanks and love,


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