The Lighter Side


Some people think special needs families are always intense: either frustrated, sad, stressed, or super-sweet. Let me tell you, if my life were even 60% of any one of these things, I’d be nuts. We need humor, delivered up in big slices. Daily, please.

Special needs families see things differently. Situations we find ourselves in are a little wacky, and sometimes our humor matches.


Thankfully, the Lord gave our family an appreciation for the funny side of life. It really doesn’t take much to make us laugh: dry humor, sarcastic humor, jokes (even though I can’t tell a joke to save my life, I’m a great audience for others), riddles. But for us, the best kind of humor is when Kristen generates it.


I mean, does the term “mad arms” mean anything to you? Kristen defined it. Her tightly crossed arms mean, “This is one mad Kristen.”

But it’s really funny when you’re waiting and waiting and waiting in line somewhere, you sigh, and cross your arms. Kristen grins knowingly and says, “Why do you have mad arms, Mom?”

Heads swivel. I turn red. My arms drop to my side.

What? I’m not mad.


And there was the time she was about nine, and we were in the restroom at the movie theater. I was trying to help her button her jeans in the stall and accidentally bumped her. In response, she yelled, “Ow! You hit me!”

Oh. My. Gosh.

Maybe it was my imagination, but it sure seemed to get quiet in that bathroom.

I didn’t see the humor until hours later, when I told my family and they burst out laughing.



When Kristen was a teenager, we were sitting in a Sunday morning service. She was quietly scribbling on the program.The pastor was preaching on parenting, and made a statement about parents needing to be honest with their children. Kristen looked at me with a big smile on her face.  Then she said (none too quietly), “Mommy!”

Of course, that turned some heads. I felt like saying, “I’m honest, I am!” I could feel my face getting red hot. The people nearest us laughed. This fueled Kristen, who loved the attention and laughed, too. A lot. As the pastor continued preaching, I leaned in close to her and whispered, “It’s time to be quiet, ok?”

Instantly, Kristen reared back, covering her nose, her face a mask of revulsion. “Uuuuugh, your breath smells like poo poo!” she said in the quiet sanctuary.

Floor. Please swallow me.

There are those magical phrases that don’t mean what they say:

  • a lot is really a little
  • a little is really a lot
  • “a long time ago” is scary
  • “I didn’t sing” really means “I want to sing”… the song on the radio, so we do. Together. Having no idea what the words are, but we fake it.

…and laugh when we get it wrong. Which is every other word, but that’s not the point. The point is, we have fun. Because life as a special needs family is full of fun moments.









4 thoughts on “The Lighter Side”

  1. Wonderful post! I love the way people with autism express themselves! When Hannah was little, she identified restaurants by the color roof they had. Her favorite place was the “blue roof restaurant.”

  2. I LOL’ed. This a wonderful lighthearted post. I’m so glad to see this because Kristen is like so, so many children. She reflects the honesty and loving personality of most children. I’ve had the bad breath one and, oh my word, I tore my purse open looking for gum. It was hilarious (now, I can say that). I love how God shows us humor in not taking ourselves so seriously. It’s like God wants us to loosen up because we’re always so tightly wound (and it is very much required in most cases). I love your posts. Sending lots of hugs and smiles. 🙂 I sure needed this one today. <3

    1. Ha! Our mortifying moments shape funny stories — much later in the day! Our kids keep us grounded, don’t they? Can’t wait to share in-person laughs at She Speaks! Have a great day!

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