Grasshoppers + Death + Life

The Roc and I went on a walk a couple days ago, and as soon as we came back inside he settled in with his iPad and I came up to my computer and started to record our conversation.  I’ve come back to this page over the last few days and written the rest.  He’s come so far and I’m so proud of the connections he is making and the emotional growth he is able to express.  I wanted to capture this time.


I have been pushing the Roc to converse with me instead of delivering monologues at me.  It’s really hard to talk about Halloween (since the beginning of August,) Plants vs. Zombies (since last Christmas!) and what we are going to bake next – over and over and over again.  It is extremely one-sided and the Roc has been expressing anger when I don’t listen and answer him with a distracted, “Umm-hmmm.”  I want the Roc to be able to converse with peers and adults (and me!)  So I’ve been pushing the boundaries of his language skills.  I prod him to give me more details about school by asking if something fun happened that day, and he is no longer allowed to say recess and/or lunch.  I tell him that I will only talk about Plants vs. Zombies for the first two minutes of our walks and then I try to steer him in a different direction.  I prompt him to ask me a question, any question he can think of, about me or my day.  He usually asks me if I had a good day and what I did.  Even though it’s forced and he told me he doesn’t actually care what I did that day, it’s a start, and a skill needed to get along in this world.

We’ve been going on a lot of walks lately, both to enjoy the weather, and also to get out of the house while GC is ripping out and installing new flooring.  It is so loud and the Roc has a hard time with the noise, even while wearing his noise-canceling headphones.  The grasshoppers are everywhere on the trails during our walks and the Roc tends to get frustrated when they jump right in front of him.  One day last week he got so mad that he stomped on a grasshopper and when I turned to look we both saw the grasshopper half smooshed, pulling itself by centimeters across the blacktop.  I gasped and said that looked like a horrible way to die and the Roc immediately crouched down and tears came to his eyes.  He told me he wished he hadn’t stomped on the bug, that it was living before he did that, and now it couldn’t go on with it’s life.  He asked me if I could fix it and hung his head when I told him I couldn’t.  We watched the grasshopper eventually stop moving and the Roc asked if he could mark the grave by piling up some grass.  After he did that he wanted to celebrate the grasshoppers life, which we did by saying a few words about the weather and how nice a life the little bug must have had in the park.  After some time the Roc said he was ready to walk on, but he didn’t think he would feel better for awhile.

Seeing how open he was I tried to make the connection of how the Roc felt about the grasshopper and how much worse it would be if we were to see a pet get hurt.  I mentioned how much harder it would be to see Guinness get injured and how devastated we would feel if we couldn’t save him.  Our conversation moved on to hunting (which he was talking about lately with GC ) and he made the connection that if it was hard for him to watch a grasshopper die, then it would be near impossible to watch a deer die.  (I breathed a sigh of relief as I didn’t really want him to want to hunt.)  He wanted to know why people hunted instead of just letting the animals live and I tried to explain population control to him, but he got stuck on wanting people to leave animals alone.

Talking about animals seemed to brighten the Roc up considerably and he launched into telling me about how more animals are made…and then people…I was fully enjoying the fact that we were not talking about one of his three main subjects of late.

“Mommy, did you know that one animal makes another animal and then that animal makes two more and then those two animals make more and more and it just keeps going?  Did you know that animals make animals?”

“Yes, Roc.  I did know that.”

“Did you know that people make people?” he asked me.  “Yup.”

“Did you make me?”

“Yup.  I did.”  I wondered whether this was going to lead to the question I don’t want to answer:  How did he get inside me?  Luckily, he didn’t ask that particular question.  Instead he brought up the miscarriage I had a few years ago.

“Mommy, remember that baby that was in your belly and it died?”


“I still feel sad about that and I wish we could have had another kid.  I really wish I had someone to play with.  I don’t have anyone to play with and I really wish I did.”

“Well, I know you wish that and sometimes Mommy feels sad about that baby too.  But you know what?  I am so happy that I got to have you.  Did I ever tell you that when you were in my belly the doctors told me that there was a chance that I might lose you?  I didn’t know for a long time while I was pregnant with you if you were going to live.  It was hard and I am so thankful and grateful that I got to have you.  And there are some benefits to being an only child you know?  You get all my attention.  I can take you places and travel with you, like when we go to Arizona in the winter.  It’s lucky in some ways, that you are an only.”

The Roc pondered that for a moment and then said,

“Well, I still wish there was someone in the house to play with, but you know what?  I’m really glad that I was born a boy.”

“Really?  Why?”

“Because then I don’t have to grow a baby.  I don’t want to have to do that and so I’m glad that I don’t have to.”

“Yup, you are right.  You won’t ever have to grow a baby in your belly.”

Then he asked if he could talk about Halloween and so I told him yes..and I tried to muster some enthusiasm and attention for this repetitive topic.  My mind wandered back over what had just happened and the connections the Roc has been making lately while he chattered on about the desserts I already agreed to bake, the costume he was going to wear, the new decorations I already agreed to buy, the kinds of pumpkins he wanted to carve, and the decorations he was going to make.

I smiled as I walked on, half listening, and thought about how grateful I am to have the chance to slow down and savor life.  Everything is hard won with this boy and he works so hard every day.


Yesterday the Roc was inside the house while I mowed the lawn and GC worked on the floor.  I knew he wasn’t happy as I could hear him through the open windows telling his father to be quiet.  I loaded up the van with some stuff to bring to the town composting site and poked my head inside to ask the Roc if he wanted to come along for the ride.  He did and he told me loudly how unhappy he was that it was so noisy in the house.  He was agitated  in the car and screamed loudly about a butterfly flying near him in the van as I drove out of the neighborhood.  I could see his face screwed up in anger and his arms waving around in the rear view mirror and then I saw that it was moth.

“Don’t kill it Roc!  Remember how you felt when you squashed the grasshopper last week?!”

“I already killed it,” he told me.

“Oh no, are you ok?”

“Yeah, I don’t feel bad this time.”

“You don’t?” I asked him.

“No, it is different today.  My emotions didn’t come out.”

Huh.  I didn’t see that coming.

I hid my smile and turned up the music.



I love his word choices and how he is learning to express himself.  The growth is inside as much as it is on the outside.

I feel so lucky to be witnessing his transformation.



Catching up: The Highlights

I haven’t written much in 2014.  Not that there hasn’t been anything to say, there were so many situations, triumphs, heartaches, one step forwards and two steps back, fist-pumping moments, and on and on.  Life happened.  So many times I’ve wanted to write, but I have found it harder to write about the Roc as he has gotten older.  This is his life, his story, and it doesn’t feel appropriate to write about the harder stuff, but it also feels dishonest to only write about the good.  Because this life, as I know it, as he knows it, has both.  But I want to continue telling our story because it is a way for me to keep track of where we have been.  I have also been told that other people see their family in my own, they see their kiddo in my Roc, and whether they are looking forward or looking back when they read, I appreciate the connections.  Also, more than one real life friend has told me that they they learn about autism and what our life is like when they read my words, and I appreciate that just as much as the connections.

So, to get started again after many months off and because I like to focus on all the good stuff, here are some of the family highlights of spring/early summer 2014.

After spending a weekend up on scaffolding in our town home in Delaware a few years ago GC swore that he was never going to have a house with a two story family room and/or foyer again.  That statement didn’t hold true as the house we bought when we moved here three years ago has a two story family room.  So this spring we rented scaffolding and GC was again painting and installing a ceiling fan way up high, much to his delight.



I even went up on the top level to wash the windows and gained a new appreciation for his bravery!


I went to a Rocky Mountain School of Photography photo weekend in April and finally learned how to shoot in manual.  I practiced a lot on our pets


and at swim practice (which is very hard due to the lighting at the pool and all the movement, but I’m working on it.)  The Roc is a bit tired of me pointing my camera at him.  Actually the dog is too, though I think he is afraid of the noise, and that’s why he leaves the room every time I start snapping.


Swimming was big in the spring with swim team starting back up and going through June.  Team practice two nights a week and then a weekly individual swim lessons at a local swim school kept the Roc busy after school.  His love affair with water continues and it was a joy to watch him on the team.


My favorite swim memory from this year is from the Roc’s very first swim meet at the end of May.  He hadn’t expressed an interest in the meets during the fall/winter season and I didn’t push him to compete.  After getting my fall volunteer points complete by working meet concessions I was relieved that he wasn’t interested.  The meet I attended was long, crowded, and so noisy.  I worried it would be completely overwhelming and that he wouldn’t want to continue on the team if I pushed him to race before he was ready.  So when he brought it up on his own, after seeing some of the kids get participation medals at practice this spring, I signed him up for one race, 25 freestyle.  When I looked at the team website a few days later I saw that the coach signed him up for backstroke as well.  In the days leading up to the meet we went over what to expect and decided that GC would take him to the meet and I would be the one volunteering (as a timer.)  I was so nervous for him and so proud when he went to sit with his team.  The coaches were awesome about getting the kids to where they needed to be and the Roc got in the water and raced the backstroke.  He was so proud of himself when he got to the end of the pool and I was able to wave to him before GC took him home.  There was a big chunk of time between his two races, and we live close to the pool, so GC thought it would be better to wait at home.  They came back in time for the freestyle and I was psyched that he would be racing in the lane that I was timing!

The Roc is in the lane closest to you as you watch…

He crushed it!


Right after school let out we were invited to spend a weekend up at cabin owned by the coach of the Roc’s special hockey team.  He knew that we love the outdoors and thought we might enjoy fishing and hanging out at his little place in the woods.  We did!  After one day of rain it was peaceful and beautiful.





IMG_4448It was wonderful to spend the time with the Roc’s coach as well.  He is one of the most genuine people I have ever met.  He helped the Roc fish off the dock, putting worm after worm on the hook as the Roc caught sunny after sunny, and he even got all the spiderwebs down off the ceiling. (This is an anxiety issue the Roc developed last summer, which we thought would go away like so many other things have in the past, but it hasn’t gone away…something to write about in the future.  Spiderwebs can literally ruin his day.)  The special needs world has introduced our family to so many wonderful people and we are very grateful.

After our weekend at the cabin we were biding our time until we left for South Carolina (which deserves a post all it’s own.)




My wish for the Roc

My wish for the Roc in 2014 and beyond.

May I work to find and foster connections for him so he can have acceptance, with himself and from those around him.  May those who encounter him not just accommodate him, but celebrate him, for he is worth celebration.  May those who work with him find joy in the process.  May he be loved, not because of obligation, but truly loved, for he deserves nothing less.

I will build the Roc a family of relatives and friends who accept him, celebrate him, and love him.

Inspired by words written by an autism mama friend.  Words that have stuck with me since I read them a few short months ago.  Words that I wrote down, because we all deserve as much:

“At the end of the day, there was so very much to be grateful for. But this — this is what I will remember most.  Not just tolerance, but acceptance. Not just accommodation, but celebration. Not just patience, but joy. Not a sense of obligation, but LOVE.”

If only we could all have this.  If only it were easy.

My wish for the Roc will take more than a year.  It will take more than 2014.

It will take me a lifetime.

It is worth working for.

He is worth everything.

Hockey weekend

I don’t know how to adequately describe this weekend.  It was a blast, it was overstimulating, it was well organized, it was full of laughter, smiles, and lots and lots of gratitude.  And it was all because the Roc’s hockey coach and the Denis Savard Foundation.

We have encountered some very awesome and very generous people because of the Roc.

The Roc’s special hockey team got an opportunity to travel to Chicago, attend the morning skates of both the Wild and the Blackhawks at the United Center, participate in a game against a special hockey team from the Chicago area, and then attend the Wild vs. the Blackhawks on Saturday night!  Our travel, lodging, meals, and tickets were paid for by the Denis Savard Foundation.  An amazing opportunity!

But first we had to get there!  The Roc was excited to go and very happy to skip school on Friday.  We met up with the team and boarded the bus.

IMG_1590I was a bit worried about the ride as the Roc doesn’t like crowds or loud noises and the bus was filled to capacity with the players, coaches/volunteers, and their families.  I wrote to my friend Stimey about how to survive the bus ride and she gave me good advice.  Bring the iPad.  She also assured me that before her first trip she had been, “kinda flipped out about it,” but found that it was pretty mellow and fun.  She was right.  The Roc did well, there was a bit of complaining about the noise and amount of people, but he plopped on his noise canceling headphones and was much happier.  I was happy that GC was also on the bus because we got to split our time and the second half of the trip I sat alone and read my kindle!  They did fine without me.


After our long ride, a pizza party, and an hour and a half in the pool, the Roc and GC got in a couple games of Uno before bed on Friday night.


Saturday morning we had breakfast and then Denis Savard and John Carpenter (from the Denis Savard Foundation, who was instrumental in organizing our trip) came to the hotel to meet the kids on the Roc’s team.  Unlike many of the other kids, the Roc didn’t want to take a picture with Denis, he just wanted to finish eating.  I didn’t bring my camera down to breakfast, but one of the dads took pictures of all the kids, so somewhere there is a picture of the Roc smiling a forced smile as he leans away from Denis Savard!

We got back on the bus and headed down to the United Center to watch the morning skates.




It was amazing to sit right at the glass and watch the players up close.  The Roc was enthralled and there were many, many smiles as I looked around at the other kids on his team.  Some of the Blackhawks threw pucks over to the kids and they were overjoyed and ran to get them signed by Denis Savard.

IMG_1648The Roc was just as excited to see the zamboni as he was to see the players.  I love that kid.


We were able to see the whole morning skate for the Blackhawks and part of the Wild’s morning skate.  I was hoping to get a few clear picture of Zach Parise, who used to play for the NJ Devils, the team I started watching with GC when we lived out East.  I’ve always liked him, GC says it’s because I think he’s cute, but I maintain that my affection for Parise is because he is from Minnesota.  I’m sticking to my story.



We left the Wild’s morning skate to go to the Roc’s game.  He was nervous when he got there, telling us he didn’t know what to do.  He doesn’t fully understand what to do when he’s on the ice, but there were a few helpers who gave him some direction.  I know he enjoyed skating.


I loved seeing this on the score board.


All the players had a great time.


After the Roc’s game we headed back to the hotel to eat and then we were back on the bus to go to the game.  Originally I wasn’t supposed to go to the game, but one of the volunteer coaches couldn’t make it at the last minute so I got his ticket!

We sat up high!


So I got to test the zoom on my lens.



It was a good game and the Wild won!  Not long after the game started the Roc started to tell me he was tired.  I couldn’t blame him, it had been a long day.  He was very, very hard to wake up the next morning.  But we had to be on the bus at 8 am to head back home.


One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to know more of the players and their families.  I went to every practice and game last year, but I didn’t talk to other families very much, and because GC helps the Roc with his equipment, I stay out of the locker room and don’t get a chance to talk to the players.  Three days of togetherness changed that for me.  I got to talk with other parents and get to know some of the players.  By the end of our weekend it really felt like a team to me and I know it helped the Roc feel part of the team.

I am so thankful for all the different experiences we have had and all the wonderful people we have met.

We are rich in a way that counts.


You may not think I saw you.  But I did.  I saw you roll your eyes when we exited the changing room.

I don’t blame you.  You just don’t know what you are seeing.  Based off your exaggerated eye roll, I’m guessing you see a demanding child, a loud child, a child I should have control over.  Maybe you think I’m not a very good mother.  Not as good as you, your children waiting, waiting, waiting so patiently for the tiny changing room door to open.

Maybe you sighed so loudly to send me a message.

You took too long.  How selfish of you.  Your kid is a brat.  You are not a good mother.

I felt the pressure to move him along while I was inside that tiny space.  I knew you were waiting.  I knew you were not the only one waiting.  I heard someone try the handle, even though my big black winter boots should have been clearly visible under that partial door.  I felt the pressure to do for him.  I knew you were waiting.  I knew others were waiting.  I also knew there were at least four or five other changing stalls.  I knew that others would move faster than we were.  I knew that we could move faster if I helped him.  But he needs to be able to do these things himself and I am not helping him by helping him.  So I wrapped my arms around myself, my fingers pressing against my ribs, and I fought the urge to help him.

To help him dry his skin and hair.  To help him untie the knot holding up his bathing suit.  To help him out of his bathing suit.  To help him navigate putting on his underwear, his pants, his shirt, his socks, and finally his shoes.  When he screeched, “I need you to do it FOR ME!” I held my ground.  I squeezed my arms tighter and fought my hands from helping.  The physical urge was so strong.  Instead I prompted him to keep going.  That he could do it himself.  When he sang a song instead of zipping up his pants I gestured for him to zip.  Trying to remind myself not to talk so much.  Not to verbally prompt so much.  He grinned when he got all his clothes on, and I grinned back without telling him his shirt was on backwards.  I gently reminded him to stuff his towel and wet bathing suit into the bag.  I stopped him before I opened that tiny door and said, “See?  You can do it by yourself.  I’m so proud of you!”

If only you could have seen that smile that lights up his eyes from deep inside.  If only you could know what it meant to him, to me.

When I opened that door and saw your face, saw your eyes roll up and away, heard you sigh and usher your two small children forward, already instructing them to hurry I didn’t feel embarrassed or sorry.  If you tried to shame me, it didn’t work.

I do not know your story and you do not know mine.  Maybe you are lovely and you’ve had a bad day.  I try to give you that grace.   The grace I wish for my son as he learns important life skills, necessary skills.  Skills that your children are picking up by osmosis.  I try to give you grace.

And so I smiled.  I let you push past us and I smiled at my son.  I smiled at the other parents nearby.

I smiled.  Because that was huge.  He dressed himself, and I forced myself to be still and I let him.  It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quiet, but he got it done.

In the past I might have felt shamed by your eyes or your sigh.  I might have gone out to my car and cried a little, felt sorry for myself.

Not anymore.

I am not helping him by helping him.

Even if you wished I would.

I’m doing the best I can.

My son is doing the best he can.

Maybe that was the best you had that day.

I hope you get another chance to do better.

I’m sure you can.

Basketball opening night

I was just about to send this picture with the following caption to my autism mama friends on Monday night:


“Behind that wall of parents is a sea of 250 boys…and the Roc.  We are at basketball opening night, something we skipped last year because 250 boys…But he’s over there sitting with a kid from his class!  HUGE!”

I was about to hit send when GC walked up and said, “A group of kids is teasing the Roc.  He’s still sitting with T, but the kids behind him keep pushing him and touching him on the back.  The Roc is jerking away and getting mad and they are laughing at him.”

A fire lit in my stomach and I clenched my fists.  “What did you do?”

“Nothing, I let it play out, I was going to step in but then T turned around more than once and I could read his lips, he was saying “stop it” to them.

As I slipped my phone into my pocket the boys were splitting up by grade and I heard the head coach instruct the 2nd graders to another part of the gym.  I started walking in that direction.

“Where are you going?” GC asked me.  “Don’t confront the kids!”

“I won’t.  I have to see the Roc.  I just need to be able to see him,” I told him.  Truth is, I wanted to see if I recognized any of the kids around the Roc, and I wanted to see if the little shits were going to keep teasing him.

I had just been at the top of the roller coaster.  I was flying and so happy for the Roc.  He had been paralyzed when we entered the gym.  I had to remove his coat and sweatshirt for him, help him into his shoes, and steer him through the crowd.  He stood with his arms wrapped around himself and could barely look up when T, a kid from his class, said hello to him.  After a lot of prodding and a few waves from T, he had gone to sit with him and we watched, hoping he would be able to stay with T when they joined the other grades in the center of the gym.  He was doing it.  He was working hard to regulate, to manage his anxiety and sensory issues.  He wanted to be there and he was.  It was huge for him.

And then the teasing started.

My stomach burned as I searched the big group of 2nd graders for my Roc.

“Do you see him?” GC asked me.  He had followed me across the gym, probably wondering if I was going to make a scene.

“Right there, he’s next to shoot, and T is right behind him.”

I watched as the Roc shot the ball, a clean swoop through the hoop.  He turned and moved toward the back of the line, which was not so much a line as a big jumble of kids.  I watched as T shot and then immediately found the Roc, showed him where to go, and then got in line behind him.  In doing so, no one could touch the Roc’s back.  I wondered if he was consciously protecting the Roc.  It seemed that he was.

“Do you see what’s happening?” I asked GC.

“I do.  That is some kid out there…Kim, there are always going to be assholes.  There are always going to be kids who tease and who bully.  Unfortunately, they usually have asshole parents.  But there are good people out there, thoughtful people, and they are raising good kids.  For a kid that young to say something, to stand up for the Roc, it shows his character.  Focus on that kid.”

The kids shot a few more baskets and then they lined up to get their free bag tag and Gatorade.  I stayed back and gathered our things while GC went over to the Roc who was waiting in line with T.  I watched as he high five’d the Roc and said a few words to T.  The Roc was grinning and doing a happy hop as they walked over to me.

“I did it!  I made it through the whole thing!  I’m so proud of myself!” he crowed.

I leaned down, “You did do it, and we are so very proud of you!”

He did it.  He had a little help from T and that made all the difference.  He did it.


I went to bed that night wrestling with my emotions.  It angered me to my core that the Roc was teased with all those parents standing by.  I wondered about those boy’s parents.  Were they sitting on the sidelines staring into their phones?  Did any of them see what happened?  If they did, why didn’t they intervene?  It took so much for the Roc to be there!  He was working so hard!  What a difference it would make to him if more children were like T.  Why aren’t there more children like T?

T.  What a kid!  I shifted my focus to T.  I couldn’t do anything about the kids who picked on the Roc.  But I could do something about T.

In the morning I sent an email to the Roc’s teachers.  I wanted them to know what happened.  That the Roc was bullied at a function outside of school and that a peer from his class had stood up for him.  I asked if she would please reinforce T for standing up for the Roc.  As soon as school was over she wrote back:

Thanks for sharing Kim.  How wonderful to know your son has such a good friend in T.  T is a remarkable boy – great family, dad volunteers in our class Tuesday mornings but Roc doesn’t see him as he is in Mrs. Ms room at that time. I think it would be quite impacting on my students for T to share what he observed (poking/pushing) and what it felt like to stand up to “bullies” and defend Roc.  Also, may I communicate your thoughtful email to T’s parents? I know they would be appreciative and proud of their son’s actions.

 Huge hooray for Roc in attending last night’s event. What a crowd! I was running on the track above and was just amazed at the large number of adults and kids below! It was busy, busy!  Good for Roc to try these new experiences J

 Thanks again for taking the time to tell us about T’s great character- I’ll let T know his actions were noticed and appreciated by you.

Her response was more than I had hoped for.

There may always be kids who pick on the Roc.  Hopefully, there will always be kids who will stand up for him too.

Invisible Connection

My eyes swung up from the water as you and your son entered.  I immediately felt a connection blossom behind my navel.  A thin, invisible thread between you and me, though you were unaware of our similarities.  I watched, as did some of the other mothers, from my bench as you and your son made your way to our end of the pool.  I saw your hands guiding him, the halting steps as his body leaned in so close, his eyes darting around, your cheeks pink from the heat of the room, or the heat of prying eyes.  As you passed by me I saw the dark circles under your eyes, the way you held yourself, and the determination in your jaw.  I did not avert my gaze and you looked down at me, our eyes locked, and I smiled big.  You smiled back at me.

I wanted to watch you, but I didn’t want to stare, as some of the other mothers were staring from across the small pool, their eyes wide and their faces blank.  In my peripheral vision I could see your son’s hands, always moving.  Flitting about his face, to your hair, your shirt, your gentle smile.  He put his arm around your neck, his face so close to yours, and kissed you over and over.  You did not pull away, only redirected his attention.  I saw love.

I couldn’t help but watch as his lesson started, in the lane next to my son’s, his long body immediately relaxing as he floated on a noodle.  I wanted to catch your eye again, but you were focused on him, just as I am usually focused on my own special son.  I noticed your towel bag, with the blue whale and the “I love water!” written on the side.  I thought about how it is the perfect bag for my son too, and I wanted to tell you.

If you gave any thought to me at all, wondered which of the four boys was mine, I will never know.  You couldn’t know how we are connected.

The Roc’s lesson ended before your son’s.  I coaxed him to stay with me while I waited for the shower area to clear out.  When it was empty I let him stand under the spray.  Then I did glance back to our, now your, end of the pool.  You sat alone, leaning forward, elbows on your knees, chin in your hand, your cheeks still rosy.

You never looked up, never looked around the small pool at the few small children remaining.  You were watching your boy.

A small smile on your lips, your eyes full of pride.

I smiled watching you, wondering about the years leading up to this point.  I saw myself in you, and then I saw what the world sees as they watch me while I watch my son.  I hadn’t thought about it, always consumed by my feelings in the moment, and I felt that invisible thread once again.  Tugging on my heart, reminding me of how much I learn and gather strength from those who are also walking a different path.

I don’t know if I will see you again tomorrow.  If I do, I’ll try not to stare, but I will catch your eye if I can, and I’ll smile big.

We are connected.

Even if I am the only one who knows.