From the Blog

Undiagnosed Childhood Autism or Aspergers or Something

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This is a story from my childhood that is related to camping. It is my mom’s favorite story to tell people we barely know. It’s extra effective because it embarrasses both me and my dad. Perfect for telling my dad’s coworkers at holiday parties, and any prom date I dared bring home. Mercifully, I had few dates. Because when I brought home a boy, she also trotted out my baby book, with the photos, with the bow on the crotch. I’m working it out in therapy.

We camped a bunch of times when I was a kid. I loved camping then as much as I do now. We had an old Apache tent trailer that my dad hauled around with one of our Saabs (he put a trailer hitch on it.) We camped in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on the Saco River. We often went to a campground called Eastern Slope in North Conway, NH. Many of these memories are mostly from before my sister was born, so I was age 5 and younger.

And as a kid, this campground was the most fun place in the world! Because we’re camping! And we’re on a river! And there’s a beach! And also, a big, fat playground! And I’m sure there were a zillion kids out running around…and it sounds like just the kind of place I’d take care to avoid now that I’m an adult.

I don’t remember this, but I have been informed that I was known as the “Old MacDonald Kid.” I guess I would spend a lot of time swinging on the swings in the playground, pumping my little legs as hard as I could, singing “Old MacDonald Had A Farm.” As loud as my tender lungs would sing. Over and over. Through the whole playground. In a giant, communal space. And I’m sure my voice carried. Old MacDonald Had A Farm.

Again, I don’t remember this, but I am told the other kids wouldn’t have anything to do with me because I wouldn’t shut up with the Old MacDonald. I think maybe my parents should have had this behavior medically investigated. It could have saved me a lifetime of anti social awkwardness. Or in the very least, it would have been an *explanation.*

One of the nights during a camping trip, I was whining to use the restroom. My mom asked my dad to take me, because she was in the middle of making dinner. I couldn’t go to the restroom myself. I was a little kid. The toilet was bigger than I was.

So my dad took me, and he must have brought me over to the men’s side of the restrooms. I was too young to realize this was unusual. I guess I did my business with his assistance. And then he needed to take care of things himself.

So what do you do with your toddler when you need to pee? You can’t have your kid wait outside. She’ll get eaten by monkeys. And keeping her in close range is, uh, awkward. Especially in the men’s room.

So I guess my dad positioned me in a way that afforded him some privacy but kept me in the vicinity. I don’t know how he negotiated it. But he did, somehow. I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH HOW MUCH I DON’T REMEMBER THIS.

But afterwards, as the story goes, on the way back to our campsite, through the big, communal campground, I ran, yelling at the top of my lungs:

“Mommy! Mommy! Daddy pees through his HAND!”

And there. You have my mom’s favorite story to tell strangers.


  1. So I guess now you’ve saved your mom from having to tell this story in the future.

    She can just give out the URL to your blog ;-)

  2. Wow. I knew your dad is an amazing man, but I had NO IDEA he could pee through his hand…

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