The Funk

Silver Falls State Park, OR

When I was in college, my roommates and I hosted a P-Funk party that people still talk about. We dressed up and wore wigs. We played records (yes, records) and really got down. But that’s not the kind of funk I’m into now. A few months ago, my two teen boys invited some friends over (more teen boys) for a sleepover, and the next morning, as they slept and I walked into the game room to survey the damage (almost as wild as my P-Funk party), I was hit with a wall of funk. Teenage-boy funk. Sweat, dirty socks, and (um, how to put this delicately?) expelled-air kind of funk.

But that’s not the kind of funk I’m in now. You know the kind, I’m sure – things are going mostly okay, you’re working, taking care of the kids and the household, but something doesn’t feel right. And in spite of all that’s good in your life, in spite of counting your blessings, it’s still hard. Right – nobody said life was supposed to be easy. But is it supposed to be hard?

No, I tell myself. I’m just in a funk. I’m at a crossroads with my finished-but-still-unpublished book, unfulfilled with my day job, feeling like I’m between treading water and sometimes barely keeping my head above it. So when Nigel, who turns 15 next week, told me last night that his case manager at school said to ask me if he’s going to be getting his driver’s permit (what?!), I felt like I’d been hit by a wall of water.

I didn’t know this was coming, although really, I did. I just didn’t know it would be this week. But what shocks me more is that I was just talking about this with my good friend Carrie less than a week ago. (Got Carrie? If not, head on over there immediately. You’ll be glad you did.) I was telling her how I didn’t know how to tell my son that he’s not ready to drive yet, in spite of how much he wants to. I told her how I’ve been putting it off, not sure how to approach it, foolishly thinking I still had some time. And then, something amazing happened, as it usually does when we’re with someone who listens and understands. Out of my mouth tumbled, “Maybe he just needs to hear it from me” or something along those lines. And I knew that I had to have the talk with him soon. I just didn’t get it together quick enough. So, I copped out. Last night, as I had three different dinners cooking at once while he stood there expectantly, I said, “Maybe in a few months.” I just couldn’t do it right then.

Because last night my other son needed me more. Last night Aidan was still recuperating from a vaccine reaction. Yes, I said it. I’m going there. He had his 13-year physical two days ago (a couple months late, but oh well), and the nurse spouted off at least four different vaccinations or boosters that he “needed.” We decided to go with one – the meningitis. It was the one that I felt strongest about, so we took it. Then I dropped him back off at school and I went back to work. In less than an hour, Aidan told me later, his arm was numb, and he had a headache and abdominal pains. My poor sweet boy didn’t want to disturb me at work, so he suffered through it at school and told me when he got home. He slept badly that night, still experiencing the same problems. He stayed home from school the next day, and by that evening (last night), he was feeling better (although his arm still felt strange).

I went in Aidan’s room to talk to him before he went to sleep, as I do every night. I’d had an epiphany, and I wanted to share it with him. My younger son has sensory processing disorder – gustatory, olfactory, tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular (worse than Nigel in all of these areas). And when Aidan was a baby, he cried almost constantly – but it didn’t start until he was two months old. That was when he received his first round of what turned out to be no less than 16 vaccinations by the age of 18 months. (By comparison, I’d received 6 vaccinations by the time I was 18 months. I guess I should consider myself lucky to be alive, as undervaccinated as I was.)  Aidan knows that he was a crier. He’s heard the war stories. But, as I told him last night, now we know why. I think that it took months for his little body to assimilate the vaccines, and by the time he got through one round, it was time for another, and then another. His body was flooded, overwhelmed. And I believe that experience contributed to his sensory processing disorder.

Maybe I’m reaching. Maybe it’s my funk. I don’t think vaccines are bad. But once I made that connection with Aidan’s babyhood, I felt like I’d solved a 13-year mystery. And Aidan agreed with me; both of us achieved some closure. As I left his room, I blew him kisses from the doorway, as I do every night. Often he blows them back to me. Last night, I shut the door and stood in the hallway a moment. I heard him continue to blow kisses to me even after the door was shut.

I can only hope that when I approach Nigel about the driving issue that I can word it in such a way that he can understand.  I don’t want him to see it as a punishment, as a wall of water crashing down on him. I hope that what I discussed with Carrie turns out to be right – that he just needs me to tell him. Maybe once I talk with him and get it all out on the table, I’ll feel better. Free, even. Free of the funk.  

17 thoughts on “The Funk

  1. CorrieHowe

    I understand walking around in a funk and not understanding why…since everything is really good. I also understand not wanting to “go there” with driving. Just went through that with my oldest. I spent six or so years fighting it

    I was a reporter covering horrific automobile accidents, then an auto claims adjuster paying for injuries and then moved to this rural area where 10 teens died within a week of each other in car accidents…no, I didn’t want to go there.

    My husband and I actually fought about this (we never fight) six years before my son was even old enough to get a permit. We finally agreed to disagree.

    But our last fight was memorable. I told him, “If you talk me into letting him drive before I’m ready and he dies, I’m not sure our marriage can my unforgiveness of you.” His eyes popped open. He said, “So if he dies the day after his 18th birthday our marriage will survive?”

    That question resounded in my head for a long time. Then one other time he said to me, “It’s not about you. He should be able to drive when he’s ready.”

    I’m glad to say, my son has done a much better job than I gave him credit for. But I don’t think parents ever really get over the fear.

  2. Carrie

    Oh, Tanya. Well, first of all, how well I know the FUNK of which you speak! And the feeling of “does it have to be THIS hard?” I so get that. SO get that!

    I think you have the perfect words/delivery inside of you. He will hear them. I don’t remember exactly what you said to me, but something like, “He’s not ready now, I can see him ready in a few more years.” Perhaps just give him the “You’re not quite ready now,” part, and see how he accepts that information.


  3. Kim

    The funk seems to rear it’s ugly head this time of year doesn’t it? For me it’s that summer is over and we are heading into winter when I find things most depressing. I dread those feelings. I was feeling just this way last week-does it have to be this hard? It’s not supposed to be this hard.

    The driving stuff is scary. I wonder about that in the future. I’m sure you will find the words to tell him so he understands. It won’t be easy I know, but he knows that you love him and want what is best for him.

  4. mama edge

    Ouch. I dodged a bullet with Rocky, who says, “I can barely pay attention when I walk down a hallway. No way I’m ready to drive a car.” These moments are so hard, and it’s no wonder you’re funked.

    If Rocky were asking to drive, however, I think I’d work with him on a plan for how to decide when the time for driving will be right. Of course, he’d have to be able to pass a driver’s ed class re driving laws, recognizing traffic signs, etc. I’d have him take one of those pricey behind-the-wheel courses with a professional instructor. And then we’d have to determine how long he had to practice before taking a driver test, and what rules we’d have for driving after he has his first license to drive.

    In other words, “Here’s what you need to do to be ready” vs. “You’re not ready”.

  5. Tanya Savko Post author

    Everyone, thank you for your encouragement and understanding. Mama Edge, thanks so much for your helpful suggestions. Gives me something to go on!

  6. Nicki

    I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 21… but it was easier for me because I KNEW I wasn’t ready and chose not to do it. It is definitely a hard thing though, especially because in our society the driver’s license is really one of the only major rites of passage for kids. People make a huge deal out of it. When they find out you’re 15 or 16 they automatically start asking you if you’re in driver’s ed and if you’ll be driving soon, and its emberassing to say “No” and have to explain why.
    I think it will definitely be important to make sure Nigel understands you’re not saying, “No, you’ll never be able to drive,” but that you’re saying, “You’re not ready to drive JUST YET.”
    You COULD let him get his driver’s permit but tell him you’ll be taking it slowly. When I was sixteen my mom started teaching me to drive by taking me to an empty parking lot at the community college on Sundays and letting me drive around randomly, just so I’d get used to how it feels to control the car. Nigel could work on how stepping on the gas pedal with different amounts of pressure makes it go faster and slower (make sure to tell him to step on it very gently at first), how to work the turn signals and windshield wipers and defrost buttons and all that, how to make smooth turns, etc. That way he would at least feel like he’s participating in his rite of passage, even if he is most likely not going to get his driver’s license as quickly as other kids!
    (I hope that was helpful…)

  7. Meg

    No words of wisdom, but wanted to send a hug. I’m sure once you have that conversation, some of the funk will lift. Hang in there, those boys know you love them more than anything.

  8. Brenda

    Big hugs to you, Tanya. Sorry you’re going through this funk. And can you believe, Jack just asked this week when he would be old enough to drive. And he’s five!! Hugs.

  9. Anonymom

    The funk will pass. Its hard to remember when I’m in the middle of it; but I try to remember the last funk, and the one before that. They passed, so the odds are good that this one will, too. I’ve also found that the anticipation of doing something I fear (i.e. telling Elmer there won’t be time for him to go flying with Uncle R) is worse than actually doing it. Hang in there. This will pass.

  10. cathy

    i hate, hate being in funks. both our sons are fully vaccinated, but it was such a stressful decision to do so

  11. Alicia

    oh it made me tear up when you said he was blowing kisses afer you left the room! so sweet.

    ive almost emerged from my funk. i dont like funks. they make me feel funky.

  12. rhemashope

    rhema was the EXACT same way as a baby and it did not start until she was 2 months!!! (i was amazed when i read that). things that make you go hhhmmmmm….

    love you, tanya.

  13. Tera


    I hope this might make you laugh. You really just need an 8-year-old straightforward brother to make it easier on you. Kaeden was talking about driving when we were all in the car one day. He was explaining how he can get his license whenhe’s 18 (thank you for being 18 over here!). Jari blurts out, ” Kaeden, ahem, you are autistic. Autistic people aren’t allowed to drive.” Now, some people may take this the wrong way, but at the time it was very funny. Kaeden responded by asking, “Is that true mom? Can’t autistic people drive?” I answered by telling him that some can and some can’t (adding JARI’s name after) and that we’ll have to see if he’s ready when he’s old enough. But now, when he speaks about driving, Kaeden always says “We’ll see if I’m ready to drive when I’m old enough, huh mom?”

    So, though Jari is a bit of a mis-informed smartass, he did help me out in what could be a very difficult situation. Wanna borrow him for a few days? 🙂

  14. Pingback: Teen Autism » Blog Archive » The Talk

  15. Michelle S

    You ARE a great mother and writer! I’ve missed reading you. My life has been so crazy I’m behind on the blogging. It’s funny because Daniel was the “perfect baby” quiet, “easy” and now that you look at it “too easy”….Zachary (who has no autism whatsoever was the crier from 2 months on and went until 1, when we got his food together. (his tummy was a mess from allergies) I hate the vaccine thing. I’ve avoided it with Daniel because he is so scared of them it’s beyond ridiculous. He’s way behind on them, but I don’t really feel it’s my “choice” so for now, I’m following his lead.

  16. Jack Mcclenaghan

    Thanks for sharing such valuable information. I’d also like to let everyone know that if you visit my blog you can receive a copy of the audio interview I did with Dr. Michael Goldberg, renown autism specialist. He has helped my son tremendously and I’d like to share his methods with as many people as possible. Thanks. ?Dorothea

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