My Mind Has Been Blown. Has This All Been Due to a Vitamin Deficiency?

As ridiculous as the above question appears to be at first read, I assure you, it’s not. Let me back up to fully explain why I ask this. I believe I’m on to the answer, but only more time will really tell. (Although, I believe it to be absolutely true at this point.)

Last summer, our little family decided to have a trip to the local farmers market, the same farmers market in which I had my Gluten-Free, Mother of Three booth four years ago. Since then, I’ve only visited the market perhaps three times; this was one of the three times.

While perusing the fruits and veggies, a former customer of mine spotted me, ran up to me, and really wanted to share with me what she’d been going through with this new doctor of hers. (This former customer, like my daughter, had celiac, anxiety and depression.) She told me that I needed to check into the MTHFR gene. Because I didn’t have paper handy, she said to remember Monday, Thursday and Friday. It worked because I did remember it. She said that she was being tested to see if she had that because it would mean that her body couldn’t process and absorb folate properly. She said that I should consider giving my daughter, whom she knew about, methylated folate to see if it might help her. She stressed that it needed to be the methylated form (bodily-ready) and that it needed to be folate, NOT folic acid.

I didn’t know if this would help my daughter or not, but while it was still fresh in my mind, I went to the health food store and found a bottle of methylated folate. I took it home, put it in my kitchen cabinet, and waited to speak with my daughter’s pediatrician about it to see if this could possibly help her.

My daughter’s doctor is wonderful. She said that it sounded interesting and that she would ask around and speak with people who would know about this and that she would get back to me in about a week. In about a week, she did. She consulted with some of the best minds in this field (over at Stanford), and their conclusion was that there probably wasn’t much to this. She said it wouldn’t hurt her to take it, but that it probably wouldn’t do any good. Disappointed, I gave up on the folate and left it in the kitchen cabinet.

Months went by. During this time, we continued to live in a never-ending nightmare with my daughter. We changed her meds from Lexapro to Prozac. On Lexapro, she was depressed and really sleepy. All she wanted to do was sleep. On Prozac, she was even worse than she was before. She was angrier, more miserable and impossible to deal with on any level. That’s when my husband and I decided to take her off of Prozac and to try a more holistic approach. We figured it couldn’t get much worse than it already was.

On the 3rd of January of this year, 2017, as a hail Mary, I secretly started giving my daughter methylated folate. I didn’t tell my husband about it for a couple of days. I crushed it up and slipped it into her morning tea. It was only 1000 mcg per day. I kid you not, that same day, on the first day, she showed improvement. The next day she asked if she could go to see her best friend. She hadn’t been willing to see her or to even speak with her for stretches of months over a two-year period. She not only went to her friend’s house, but she stayed there for hours before I asked her if she wanted me to pick her up. My daughter was nearly unrecognizable to me. She was happy. She was social. She was normal.

That very same weekend, my husband’s plan was to take our daughter out to run errands with him, just to get her out of the darkness of her bedroom. Much to his surprise, she went along happily. During the errands, his plan was to stop at his sister’s house and to try to get our daughter into their house just long enough to make an appearance. To their shock, our daughter went in, sat around the kitchen table with my husband, his sister and her husband, and conversed for an hour. Our daughter, who would normally refuse to get out of the car, not say a word, and would hope to not be seen at all, was vocal and animated. She talked, laughed and joked around.

When my husband came home, I asked him how it went. He pulled me aside and said he was blown away. He couldn’t believe how normal she was. (It actually takes a lot to blow my husband away, so for him to say this was a big deal.)

I didn’t want to get too excited because I was uncertain how long this euphoria would last. My daughter continued to show significant signs of happiness and well-being. She was talking to us. She was hanging out in the same room as us. She wasn’t depressed or angry. We would catch her giggling to herself while reading something on her phone. She was stable and actually, well, pleasant.

This pleasantness lasted for exactly two weeks. She then plummeted right back to where she was. I was distraught over this. I was so hopeful that we’d found the answer, at least, an answer. Then, out of the blue, the same lady from the farmers market who’d told me about folate, emailed me. She started with, ” I don’t know if you remember me or not.” Holy cow! Are you kidding me? “Of course I remember you!” was my answer.

I proceeded to tell her about our experience with folate and how it was going beautifully, and then how it all of a sudden dropped off. She then said, “Are you balancing it with a B12?” I told her no, I wasn’t. She said I should do that. I did. Two days later, my daughter was back up to the level she was before the drop-off.

Since then, which was two months ago, she’s been stable. She’s been social, she’s been visiting with her friend, talking to her other long-lost friends, and she even spent the last weekend at the mall. AT THE MALL. My daughter who was diagnosed last summer with severe social phobia, non-specific depressive disorder and autism spent the weekend at the mall with her friend. She’s even been nicer to her siblings, the same siblings that she’s wanted killed off for quite some time. My son asked if we’d changed her meds. He was shocked to hear that she wasn’t taking any meds at all, just supplements. (He knows now, but she doesn’t know she’s taking them.) Her symptoms that seemed to signify autism have now been significantly reduced as well. I don’t even think of her as having it anymore except for the occasional mild social quirk.

I was telling my neighbor across the street about this because she has celiac, anxiety and depression, and she said she should try it because she’s been very depressed and hasn’t been able to lift herself out of it. I hadn’t seen much of her lately because she hadn’t been venturing outside much. I decided to run home and grab her some to try. She was going to wait until the following day after breakfast to take it. That next night, she called me in hysterics. I couldn’t even understand what she was saying. I told her I’d be right there. When I arrived, she threw her arms up into the air and declared, “I feel wonderful!!” She said I wouldn’t believe the day she’d had. It was the best day she’d had in a long time. She had friends over, she laughed, she was happy and she was thankful. I wondered how much of this might be a placebo effect, but that was about two months ago and she’s still just as well as ever. Every time I see her she thanks me for giving her her life back. I didn’t, the folate and B12 did, but I understand the importance of getting the word out there to those who may benefit from this as well.

By the way, thank you, Judy, for reaching out to me and for telling me about this. You’ve helped our daughter and my entire family more than I can ever express.

I hope this helps others out there as well.

Autism Hits Home

For the last five years or so, I’ve been writing about the effects gluten has on my family. More specifically, the effects gluten has on my two kids with celiac disease. What I have not been writing about, because I wasn’t yet aware, was that there may be an underlying cause to my two gluten-induced kids’ behavior. Autism.

I remember an old classmate of mine, whose daughter is autistic, telling me on Facebook that sometimes, behaviors seemingly caused by gluten are caused by other underlying issues; That gluten simply exacerbates other issues. I think she was right. (My kids also have celiac, so this may not be 100% true for them, but it definitely appears to have some validity.)

For the last year, my oldest daughter, who made the transition from primary school to junior high school, developed an overwhelming amount of social anxiety. She did not want to be around people and she did not want to go to school. This had never been an issue for her before. She’d always been shy, but this became far more than shyness. She actually couldn’t go. Her anxiety became too much to deal with. Her behavioral issues didn’t stop there, however. She became just as angry and mean without eating gluten as she did when she accidentally ingested some. (Although, if she’d actually had gluten on top of this, I’d be afraid of what she might be like.)

Now, after a year of pure hell, we’ve had her fully tested. It turns out, that on top of celiac disease and social phobia, she also falls on the autism spectrum. She’s high-functioning. She’s never had any learning disabilities. She’s extremely bright, in fact, she was usually at the top of her class, academically. It wasn’t until 12 to 13 years old that she started to show behavioral symptoms.

I now can’t help but wonder how much being on a gluten-free diet for the last 8 years has helped her autism to remain incognito. As for my son, although he hasn’t been tested, I would put money on him falling on the autism spectrum as well.

It goes to show: you just don’t know what you don’t know. I have to keep an open mind and realize that I’m always learning, especially about my kids.

Have any of you had this same experience?





Is PF Chang’s GF Menu Really Gluten-Free?


Marsha Delaney: Posted on Monday, March 12, 2012 11:12 PM

It pains me to say anything negative about a business, particularly a business that is making an attempt to cater to its gluten-free customers, but, as a family, we have eaten at PF Chang’s exactly twice. Both times, my daughter had days of a gluten reaction after-the-fact.

I know, I know, why try a second time when the first time didn’t work? We were desperate. We’d been out to eat perhaps four times in the last two years. It was a Monday holiday, my husband was off work, the kids were off school, and we just wanted to have a nice, relaxing afternoon and go out to lunch. Since two of the previously-mentioned ventures out to restaurants had been to the Olive Garden in Fremont, we opted to try the only other restaurant offering gluten-free options in the area again: PF Chang’s.

I should have known when ordering our food that my daughter was going to be in trouble. Our waiter didn’t have any idea what gluten-free was. He thought it was related to sugar. How, I ask, can a restaurant that boasts a gluten-free menu, actually be a gluten-free place to eat when your waiter or waitress knows nothing about it? When I asked if the iced tea had gluten, he said, “No, not unless you order it with sugar or add sugar yourself.” Huh? I questioned the waiter’s response briefly, but my husband looked at me as if to say, “No, please don’t.” I held my tongue as we finished ordering our drinks. (Their iced tea has gluten in it, by the way.)

I couldn’t do the same, entirely, with holding my tongue, when it came to ordering our lunch. I tried, mind you, but at one point during my questioning of the menu, the waiter straight out asked me what gluten was. Are you flipping kidding me? What I should have done right there was speak to the manager about the ineptitude of his/her staff, or simply round up the kids, the hubby and head home. Instead, I politely went into my speech about what gluten actually is. The kids were excited to be out. I didn’t want to ruin their day, so after quickly attempting to educate our waiter about what it was he was (or wasn’t) going to be serving us, we ordered. I hoped for the best. I reasoned that perhaps it was just the waiter who was oblivious. Certainly the kitchen staff had to know what they were doing.

A while later, we received our food. It was good enough for us to enjoy. The kids thought it was spectacular. I thought it was okay. (I think my gluten-free Chinese food at home is better, but let’s keep that between us.)

At one point, my son came out with something like, “This is the best day ever.” I wasn’t sure if I should have felt pleasure in his saying this because he was obviously enjoying himself, or if I should have felt sad for him that simply eating out anywhere at all was in his mind, the best day ever. Either way, we got back in the car, satisfied and happy that our lunch had been a success…until later that day. My daughter turned into her gluten-reaction alter-ego. She transformed before our eyes into a gluten-induced beast. This lasted for the usual 4 days. She didn’t get violently sick, so it stood to reason that she had just had cross-contamination, not outright gluten.

I suppose I don’t have to say that we won’t be eating at PF Chang’s again, ever, but I do have to say that I think it’s an abomination when a restaurant advertising a gluten-free menu doesn’t have the conviction to actually train their staff in how to deal with it. Staff members need to be told to use different work surfaces for preparing gluten-free food, they need to be told to change their gloves between touching items containing gluten and touching items not containing gluten, but most of all, and I believe this is crucial: they need to tell their staff what gluten is. Is it really that hard?

The Flying Cooler Lid


Marsha Delaney: Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:55 PM

Gluten, my mortal enemy, has ruined yet another day in my life. I couldn’t figure out why my seven-year-old son was so hostile and horrible today; I mean HOSTILE and HORRIBLE (we had the pleasure of spending the day together because the school made me pick him up for something unrelated), and it finally occurred to me that he’d swiped his dad’s stale baguette late last night before bed. We’d found it tucked behind the printer in the dining room. Coincidence? I think not. Ugh.

In the car, while we were driving, he unbuckled and got out of his booster seat, grabbed the top off of the cooler I keep in the minivan, and chucked it at me, narrowly missing my head. I’m sure many, many people got an earful of screaming coming from inside of our car today.

Unfortunately, just because he was with me didn’t mean that I could take the day off. When I parked the car in the parking lot of a grocery store, he barricaded himself between my farmers market paraphernalia and the back of his seat in the back of the minivan. This meant that I couldn’t easily reach him. When negotiations were exhausted, heeding no results whatsoever, I did what any desperate mom would do: I climbed inside the van, threw everything out of the way, dragged him out of the car, and attempted to pull him with me with one hand while I pushed the stroller carrying his little sister with the other. He resisted. He pulled in the opposite direction while repeatedly kicking me. With every person in that parking lot looking at me like I was a horrible beast of a mother for trying to drag my kid somewhere he didn’t want to go, I was forced to abort the mission.

My thoughts are this: if you’re going to swipe gluten and ruin everyone’s day, at least swipe something nice.

One more thought: why it took me most of the day to make the connection with the stale baguette, I can only attribute to some sort of brain malfunction on my part.


Just When We Think We Have a Handle On It…


Marsha Delaney: Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 10:49 AM

I know, at times, I come off all high and mighty with my gluten-free, “insights and knowledge”, but the sad truth is, there are days when I feel like I just can’t get a handle on this whole gluten-free world.

Take the last couple of weeks, for example. I feel as though I’ve been an utter failure with keeping my children gluten-free. It’s not that I’m giving them gluten; they’re taking it all by themselves…knowingly.

This all started several weeks ago. We accidentally gave my son something that was, from a gluten-free standpoint, questionable. The ingredients all sounded okay except for the listing of, “natural ingredients.” (We wouldn’t take that chance with our oldest daughter, but sometimes we do with our son since he doesn’t get sick if he accidentally ingests something with gluten in it.) It was a mistake. At that time and since, a trigger was set in his brain that causes him to crave, seek out and acquire anything gluten. It works like a drug in his system. He’s become, for the lack of a better description, a gluten junkie.

I’ve come into the kitchen at 2:00 in the morning, to find him sitting on top of the refrigerator, nabbing cookies, candy, or whatever gluten-free items he can get a hold of, shoving them into his mouth before I can snatch them away. We thought we were being responsible parents by keeping these items out of his reach. Honestly, we can’t go any higher. That’s the highest cupboard in the house. The only thing left to do is to actually put a padlock on the cupboards, but I cannot live in a house where we have to padlock the cupboards. It sounds too militant (although I am beginning to consider it at this point).

I’ve made his bed and have found half-eaten loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread tucked underneath his covers, shoved under his mattress or hidden in his closet. We’re not talking nice, wonderful bread, either. We’re talking cheap, crappy, discount-store sandwich bread that my husband buys for the little sandwiches he makes for his lunch every morning.

I know, you’re probably saying, don’t keep any of that stuff in the house. I would be happy to do away with it all, but my husband, their father, is not gluten-free. He does well with eating everything that I make, but we both think he should be allowed his one little sandwich that he takes to work with him daily. He’s already limited. I don’t want to deprive him of his right to eat, either.

Because my little gluten junkie continues to get just enough of his drug to keep him hooked and wanting more, his behavior continues to be atrocious.

Drama has returned to our lives. One moment he’ll be my sweet, normal little boy, then the next, he’ll turn into a raging little beast. The other morning I was getting ready to leave for the bakery to prepare for the farmers market. It was 3:30 in the morning. Naturally, it’s best to keep everyone asleep in the house while I sneak out, particularly my two-year-old. Well, when I got out of the shower, my son was up watching TV. It was surprising to me that he was up so early. It was usually an exhausting exercise just getting him out of bed before 10:00am during the summer holidays. I went with it. Okay, here’s your breakfast, watch some cartoons, yada, yada, yada. About fifteen minutes later he started saying, “There’s nothing to do. There’s nothing to do.” I went through the list with him of the things there were to do, but it didn’t matter one bit. He’d started a chant, a mantra of sorts. He wouldn’t stop repeating it. The problem was, it was annoying enough on its own, but he kept increasing his volume. By the time I walked out the door, he was screaming, “There’s nothing to do! There’s nothing to do!” There was only one thing I could do: leave and hope my husband could deal with him more calmly than I could right then. I had to get to work.

This little annoyance was nothing compared to some of the tantrums I’ve found myself dealing with lately. One of them was over dessert that he’d lost (by behaving badly that day). He thought it a terrible injustice that we were depriving him of dessert. So what did he do? He lost it. He started screaming and hitting. I put him in his room on a time-out. When I closed the door, he then threw everything he could get his hands on against his door. I tried to ignore the disaster that was going on inside his bedroom. He even broke his bed and knocked down one of his free-standing shelves. Then he began hitting his door with his guitar. I couldn’t ignore him. I went inside and threatened him. It didn’t help. He hit me repeatedly. I held his arms, so he kicked me. I had to pin him on his stomach on his bed just to keep from getting beaten by my seven-year-old. As soon as I let him up, he began again. At one point, out of total frustration, I held him upside down by his feet. Where was I going with this? I had no idea. I just wanted to keep him from hitting and kicking me. In the end, I felt like a terrible failure as a parent.

I still do, as he just walked in here, sat down across from me and started saying, “There’s nothing to do. There’s nothing to do.” Here we go again……

As for my daughter with celiac, she’s convinced herself that the Irish chocolates that were brought over for us by my in-laws are gluten-free. I’m not convinced. She’s broken out in the worst eczema she’s had since before her diagnosis. The fact is, I’ve never seen it this bad. It’s everywhere. The chocolates: they’re gone. I hope her eczema goes now as well.

Wish me luck!  I need it.





Look Out for Laundry Detergent


Marsha Delaney: Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2012 1:36 PM

Even though ‘gluten-free’ pretty-much consumes my life, I’m still prone to the occasional brain fart resulting in me rubbing my forehead saying, “What the hell is wrong with my children?”

This just happened to me recently. You’d think I would know by now that the answer is always gluten, but when I can’t figure out the source of the gluten, it inevitably causes my to ponder whether or not there’s something else going on with my kids. It can’t always be a gluten-related issue. It turns out, it nearly always is.

A few weeks ago, my son started acting out again. He had a hair-trigger temper, just like he used to have. He would flip out for no reason. He was violent. He was impossible to deal with. He was defiant about everything.

One particular day, I had to make a delivery to a coffee house in San Leandro. It’s about 20 minutes away. My son did not want to go. I forced him. I had to. I pinned him into his seat and strapped him in while his older and little sisters quietly looked on. We pulled out of the driveway, and from then until we arrived, he screamed as loud as he could (which is very loud), and continuously kicked the back of my oldest daughter’s seat. When we arrived, we had to park about a half a block away from the coffee house, on the corner. With boxes of strawberry cupcakes piled high in my arms, and with a 2-year-old and a 9-year-old at my side, I pleaded with my 7-year-old to get out of the car. He refused. I threatened him. He still refused. I pulled him out by his arm. He sat in a ball on the sidewalk, refusing to move.

I looked up the street to where the coffee house stood and back to the minivan filled with gluten-free goodies to be delivered. My 2 and 9-year-olds began the walk to our destination. My son sat. Not knowing what to do, I walked toward the coffee house, telling my son to get up and walk. He crawled. Like a snail, he crawled. He crawled all the way while everyone in the glass restaurant on the corner watched him crawl past them to our destination. I wanted to pretend like he wasn’t mine. The problem: my van with my logo “Gluten-Free, Mother of Three” was in plain sight.for everyone to see. Look everyone! Look how I’ve “fixed” my children!

It turned out, one of the issues was that he was sneaking gluten. I would go into the kitchen in the middle of the night, because one of our cats woke me up to watch them eat (stupid cats), and I would find my son perched atop the refrigerator stuffing whatever gluten-infused breads or goodies he could get a hold of into his mouth. I couldn’t understand why he all of a sudden needed gluten so badly. (I’ve talked about this before. Gluten acts as a drug in his brain. As soon as he has a little, his brain craves more.) I just couldn’t figure out what started this gluten binge.

I then began to notice eczema appearing out of nowhere on my daughter. One day it was a moderate amount on the insides of her elbows. The next day it had spread down her arms to her hands and was on her cheeks. The next, her body was covered. It was the worst eczema breakout she’d ever had. She had one area on the inside of her leg that looked like a giant bruise. I knew these two were being exposed to gluten. I just couldn’t figure out where it was coming from (except for my son’s middle-of-the-night binges).

Duh, duhty-duh duh duh! Laundry. How could I be such a moron? I knew to watch out for laundry detergent, yet, in a stupid, brain-fart moment in Big Lots, I spotted ultra cheap laundry detergent and bought it: Ajax Free and Clear. I’d been using it for about a week when this all finally dawned on me. I called the company and they said that although their product does not specifically contain gluten, they can’t guarantee that their product isn’t exposed to gluten by way of cross-contamination.

I immediately told my kids they couldn’t wear any of their clothes until I re-washed them (with Purex Free and Clear, which is gluten-free). As I washed, I gave them ‘safe’ drawers that contained the clothes they could wear. They improved within a day. My son turned back into his sweet little self (for the most part), and my daughter’s eczema went away.

I wish I could make all of my brain farts go away.

Part One Of Our Trip to San Francisco


Marsha Delaney: Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 1:27 PM

Some of you may be wondering why I seem to have disappeared from my blog lately. It isn’t because I’ve grown bored with it or because I have nothing to say. It’s simply that I’ve been traveling through the nine circles of Hell with my gluten-infused children for the past several weeks. (I can’t even tell you how long it’s been anymore. I’ve lost all perception of time.)

I wouldn’t and certainly couldn’t blame anyone who may be growing increasingly tired of hearing of my kids’ accidental ingestion woes and the atrocious behavioral problems that ensue, but the truth of the matter is, I have an entire arsenal of stories in my pocket, just ready to be whipped out and shown, in all of its ugliness, to the world. I feel it’s not just a way for me to express what I’ve been going through (which I most certainly need to do or I may indeed explode into a gazillion pieces), but I also somehow feel it’s my duty to report such extreme behavior resulting from the ingestion of gluten to those who may be wondering what the hell is wrong with their own children. This stuff isn’t made up. It’s all too entirely real. And surreal.

Several weeks ago now, I had the brilliant idea of all of us taking a family day trip to San Francisco. Our son had been pining to visit the Academy of Sciences for a while, it was coming up on the very end of summer, my husband was just switching jobs, and so it seemed like the perfect time for one last hurrah before everyone got back down to business. I figured, if we were going up there to the Academy, we may as well take the rare opportunity to go out to dinner in a city that offers a much greater selection of restaurants that are gluten-free (or that offer gluten-free items). I even checked with a friend of mine who lives up that way (and who has celiac), for a gluten-free restaurant recommendation. It sounded wonderful. I made a reservation, printed directions and we were all set. (Except that our oldest daughter, who was far too engrossed in her all-day use, all summer long, Kindle, steadfastly refused to get off her duff and get in the car.) In hindsight, we should have listened to her.

After literally forcing our daughter into the car, we were on our way. Our trip was going well, but as soon as we walked through the doors of the Academy, our seven-year-old son completely tuned us out. The first thing he did was run ahead and disappear into a crowd. It seemed that no amount of yelling at him or calmly explaining to him that if he continued to do that, he was going to get lost, seemed to have any effect on him. He was like a distracted, hyper dog. What was that? What was that? “Squirrel!”(Lovingly quoted from “Up.”) Oh, look, there’s something. And he’d take off. Most of our trip to the Academy involved chasing our son wherever he went. Our oldest daughter found the entire day to be a chore, and our littlest one was happy with everything. (Thank God we have her.)

The Academy was fine. When we left the Academy, however, everything began to turn sour.

Our son evidently wanted to scare me when he came out of the building. Not just scare me; he wanted me to burst into hysterical screams and jump a foot into the air upon his saying, “Boo!” Being the bad mom that I am, I unknowingly ruined his plans. (I had no idea he was trying to scare me.) Our son proceeded into what one would call a hissy-fit, stomped off, sat in the bushes with his back to us and refused to look our way. When we decided it was definitely time to go, he refused to cooperate. After much attempted convincing and threatening, he still refused. The others were on their way to the car. I had no choice but to hoist him over my shoulder while he screamed and hit me (causing everyone outside the Academy to wonder what the I was doing to this poor little boy).

It was still too early for us to head to the restaurant, so we opted to take a little side-trip down to Ocean Beach while we waited.

Ocean Beach, if you’ve never been there, is huge, clean and wonderful. The sand appears to stretch for miles. It’s wide and the waves crashing onto the shore are spectacular, albeit a little cold. It’s always been perfectly crisp and clear anytime we’ve been there. This late afternoon was no exception. Mother Nature intended for us to have a perfect day. Fate did not.

We hadn’t planned on going to the beach that day. Hence, I didn’t pack any changes of clothes for anyone except for the littlest one. The only rule I had once we stepped onto the beach was, do not get your clothes wet. Our son sprinted across the wide stretch of sand straight to the water. He jumped, he danced, he twirled and he splashed. I could easily hear the music playing in his head while he jumped, danced, twirled and splashed repeatedly, ignoring our screams at him to NOT GET WET! He got wet. Okay, I simply had to resign myself to the fact that we were going out to dinner wet. If the restaurant could live with that, I could live with that.

My husband decided that we’d take a walk up the beach (in the opposite direction from which we came). He and our oldest daughter walked along. I turned to yell to our son to come with us, at which point, he began running…diagonally across the sand…in the opposite direction…toward the street. I screamed to my son to stop. He ignored me. I yelled to my husband. He couldn’t hear me. I yelled again. I felt like my littlest one and I were standing in the middle of the beach inside of an invisible soundproof glass bubble. No one, it seemed, could hear my screams. In that moment, I was faced with the choice of leaving my son’s well-being in the hands of fate (and the street) or leaving my little one there in the middle of the sand, hoping my husband would realize she was alone. I made the choice. I ditched our three-year-old daughter and sprinted, as fast as I could, after my son. I took the straight-up-to-the-street route. I figured that I would never catch up with him if I followed his path. He was too far away from me and he was just too damned fast. My only bet was to get my ass up to the street and sprint like hell along the sidewalk to catch him. All I knew was that I was going to kill him when I caught up with him. (That’s only an expression, of course. Don’t go calling CPS on me or anything.)

I couldn’t breathe. My motherly instincts just told me that I had to catch him. No matter what, I HAD to catch him. It was like a nightmare where you’re running your heart out, but your destination doesn’t appear to be getting any closer. It seemed like I would never reach the street. If anyone had been near him and wanted to take him, they could have easily done so. He was too far away from me for me to do anything about it. When I finally reached the sidewalk, I took off. I can be fast when on pavement, but I was barefoot, so that may have slowed me down a little. I looked down onto the sand as I ran, trying to see my son. He was no where in sight.

As I came upon his probable destination, the long ramp leading from the street down to the sand, I expected to find him. He wasn’t there. Inner panic began to set in. I scanned the beach. I didn’t see him. I walked down the ramp about a quarter of the way and could just see my son, ducking down, hiding under the overhang between the ramp and the cliff. It was advantageous that I could see him, but he was looking for me up the beach, so he couldn’t see me. Without giving him a chance to react, I reached over, grabbed hold of him, and yanked him out in one quick motion. He was smiling. I was not.

Between gasps of air, I screamed at him, I lectured him, and I probably insulted him right there where we were standing. I dragged him up to the top of the ramp where I could then see my husband coming along with our girls. By the time they reached us, I didn’t even want to say anymore. I’d been deflated.

We headed across the street to a restaurant where a friend of mine had her wedding reception a few years ago. We needed to get cleaned up if we were going to dinner. I wanted a drink.

I took the littlest one into the bathroom to change her clothes. My son and daughter sat outside in the front with their dad. When my daughter and I came back out, my son wigged out again (because, once again, he was trying to scare me and I didn’t realize it). He pouted. I rolled my eyes.

Our littlest one was sitting on the steps to the building looking at something on her foot. A large family was just coming out of the restaurant behind her. In that moment, our son ran up to our daughter and screamed his loudest, highest, pitchiest, ear-splitting scream he could manage, directly into our daughter’s little ear. She jumped in terror. The people coming out of the restaurant jumped in terror. I grabbed my son who was trying to take flight toward the street and held onto him while he clawed for a foothold on the ground. The people in the restaurant, after their hearts began beating again, first gave us a pissed off look, then when they saw the two of us, embattled in an exhausting wrestling match, gave us a look of quiet understanding. Oh, he’s special. I said something to our son about him scaring the crap out of everyone. Embarrassed, he broke free of me and ran behind a garbage can where he remained. We either needed to go home or we needed a drink. We had just enough time before our dinner reservations for one. Our son refused to cooperate. My husband wanted to go home. My oldest daughter wanted to go home. My son wanted to sit behind a garbage can for the rest of his life. I wanted to eat at a restaurant, God dammit. That’s what we did.

That’s just the beginning of this story. It gets so much worse.

It turned out later that my son confessed to eating 5 pieces of licorice the day before (made with wheat) that my husband received in a gift basket. I thought it had been thrown away. It hadn’t. Blasted.