Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Finding Blessings in Sweaty Hair, Dirty Feet, and Butt Jokes

I filled his sippy cup with water as he waited. Silent, pudgy baby fingers reaching. I twisted the lid, and it whispered. “Autism.” The leaves on the nearby plant shook but my hands didn’t.

“No,” I said, “that’s not it.”

To prove it, “Can you ask for your water, Buddy?”  His lip trembled, his shoulders slumped. I called myself an asshole, scooped him up, kissed his cheek, handed him his water, and downloaded iBook’s top three search results about autism.

I read the first, and thought “no,” the second and thought “probably,” and read the third wondering “maybe not?”

Evaluations, hearing tests, and more maybes followed. His developmental pediatrician stuck with an “I don’t think so but…”

And so we waited, and it was fine. After all, we were blessed. 


I’d never have admitted it, but when my son was tiny, part of me felt sorry for parents who had older children, big teeth, stinkiness, sweaty hair and dirty feet.

There was so much magic in littleness.

The joy of learning gender, and of of 3-D ultrasounds. Of seeing his face while he was still on the inside. 

The joy of finding gender out

Meeting him for the first time, and showing him around the house as a newborn. Showing him outside. Naming leaves, grass, cars, and faces. Protecting his little bald head with your hand as if that would slow wayward trucks and traffic. 

When his baby head was barely bigger than an apple and his arms had less-than zero fat.

When he was totally and obviously of me and from me, although he’d already shown himself as himself.

That his coming from you or not matters not at all, as you were adopted. You feel blessed that he’s from you while also knowing who he looks like isn’t what makes him yours.

baby head barely bigger than an apple

The bond of breastfeeding a helpless newborn. Him, six months later giggling and holding my thumb while he drifted off to sleep still smiling. His eyelashes? Oh, don’t even get me started on his eyelashes or the curve of his cheek.

Later still, when he was growing teeth, I thought “Oh. He looks so much older, now…” missing his toothless grin.

And then came his giant backpack and the first day of Preschool Autism Class, his teacher assuring me “It doesn’t matter if it’s autism or not. ABA therapy will help.”

That I believed her. That it worked. That he walked away to preschool, while I bawled in the car, knowing it was best. 


backpackHis transition to the less-restricted special-ed preschool class, and his new teacher pretending to not realize I’m crying over the phone, and saying “He’s going to be okay, I promise. And if he’s not, you’ll know. We’ll know, and we’ll fix it.”

Me, trusting that.

Embracing autism with the 10 things I want you to know, although that didn’t turn out to be it.

Kindergarten. Mainstream kindergarten and the fear of bullying and people not taking time to understand him and somewhere in there, realizing that he no longer says “ah” for “water” and confirmation from a CARS test that it’s not autism, but maybe something a little bit like it.

Me, growing and learning and making Our Land. Finding a voice for special needs and reminding myself and others to “just say hi,” when once I was uncomfortable.

Finding grace and blessings.

Finding a margarita tribe, losing some of them along the way but finding others who realize we’re all human and flawed and grasping at knowing and thinking way too much in the dark. That sometimes, we forget things when celebrating. Remembering others and ourselves and knowing that we’re all different. But mostly, we’re more alike than anything else.

Finding friends. Keeping those who give us grace. Walking away from the ones who spew venom without remembering or maybe ever knowing who we are.

My not-so-little-little boy, riding his scooter as the sun sets. His sweaty hair beneath his helmet that once looked so huge and suddenly, overnight, became too small.

His nerf sword, tucked into his shirt.


“Tell the folks, mommy!” he says.

I get out my phone, and take video of scootering with commentary. “Folks, Tucker D is rounding the curve and it looks like he’s slowing down. Oh wait! He’s picking up speed, folks! He’s coming around the corner and he’s going so fast!”

Interviewing him afterwards, where he says “folks,” and remembering when water was “ah.” His dirty feet. His sweaty hair. 

Remembering buying the scooter, and getting the adaptive kind with two wheels in the front and him thinking it was too hard. Giving up and going back.

Practicing between, both of us sweaty and sad. Until it clicked and now I worry more about cars than I do his confidence even when a neighbor who is younger says “that’s a baby scooter.” That he said “No it isn’t” in reply rather than crying. Asking me later if it’s a baby scooter.

Telling me he wants to sleep alone, and to please leave. Some nights, coming to find me to hold him. Cherishing those snuggles, knowing that one day, I will not have them or be the one to wash his sweaty hair or dirty feet.

Seeing big-boy teeth come in on the bottom, not yet changing his smile to the big-boy grin I felt sorry for years ago knowing that this, too, will be beautiful and him, and that his dirty feet mean that he runs.

That his sweaty hair means he scooters.

“Knock knock,” he says.

“Who’s there?”

“Butt,” he says, and I ask “Butt Who?”

And he laughs. Holding his stomach laughs so of course I do too. We calm down and he says “that’s funny, right?”

“Right,” I say. We come home and he dresses as a magician. 

His butt jokes (and fart jokes and penis jokes) mean that he is Boy, and silly, and awesome, and perfect, even if a lot of it comes later than it does for his peers.

These are my blessings, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything else.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The sentence is “When it comes to blessings…” and it’s an extra-special week because we’re linking up with the Blessings Month with Tuesday Ten and #1000Speaks for Compassion. Write about “When it comes to blessings…” or Ten Ways I can bless people… or Ten Ways I am Blessed…

The linkup is available from August 4th to 11th (one week), and you can link up with any of our hosts:
Yvonne and Vidya and and Michelle (the blessings thinker-upper) for #1000Speaks
Rabia and Lisa for their Tuesday Ten
and me,  for Finish the Sentence Friday 

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  • Dana - I can’t believe I left fart jokes off of my list of blessings! I’m only half kidding – who doesn’t love a good fart joke?

    It’s so easy to get caught up in life and forget about all the small everyday blessings – thanks for helping me remember.August 4, 2016 – 10:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison - I love reading these posts. I love to learn about all the blessings in m friends’ lives. Thanks Kristi. And you had a cute pregnant belly! And you are good mom to laugh at butt and fart jokes…I am so over them after fifteen years. Ugh…August 4, 2016 – 10:12 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hm. Maybe I’ll be over them in 15 years too but right now? I”m just adoring that he wants to make me laugh by telling jokes. Butts and farts and all.August 5, 2016 – 5:44 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - I am so blessed to be apart of this website and look forward to the posts even when sick.

    I don’t have the words but Alex baths himself, dresses himself, washes dish (yes, this is knew!) manages to make himself cheese sandwiches when I have 103F. He sits guard over me making certain I am getting enough rest. YouTube music videos are also in our home none stop.

    These are all things I never thought my son would do but he could do all along. I had to stop doing for him so he could do for himself.

    No more hugs and he will only kiss me as a bribe to get something he wants. I still fall for it every time. I am a grateful sucker.

    Roller Coasters? Whoever thought my son would like rollercoasters?

    I am grateful for my son. He has taught me so much about life and compassion. I do not regret the child I idealized when pregnant but the blessing of having each and everyday with my son. The son, I live with.

    He inspires me to be a kinder, better, gentler person and for this post to share these gratitudes.August 4, 2016 – 10:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Alex is awesome and you’re an awesome mom! I love that he washes dishes and makes himself sandwiches but girl, you need to get better soon! Yikes. I really hope that you’re on the mend and get Alex to a roller coaster soon!August 5, 2016 – 5:45 pmReplyCancel

      • JT Walters - Another blessing was meeting you and discussing writing a book. I never thought I would but I am almost finished and really sad the first draft is almost over. I think it took me about a month. I will get better. I just got really, really sick this time. You know I know medicine but no cure like rest and no rest for Moms. 2-3 weeks the doctor told me. But I am still here with my son and I am grateful.August 5, 2016 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

        • Kristi - That you wrote a book after meeting me? OMG. I’m so so very impressed. As you know, I started one and poof, I had no ending and so I stopped it. You’re amazing for keeping on with the writing.August 6, 2016 – 11:51 pmReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - That you wrote a book. Sweets, you’re so way ahead of me.August 6, 2016 – 11:53 pmReplyCancel

          • JT Walters - I am not ahead of you. My house is a disaster. The laundry has not been put away. I drove my car until the brakes and rotators were gone and now I have a penalty of a $1000 to pay to replace them in a 20 year old car. The only person I am ahead of is myself from yesterday. Plus my son is 16 and they are very independent at 16. I could have never even dreamed of writing a book at when my son was younger. And I do not have the second child called a husband!! Books also is rough draft and sucks right now. Needs lots of work. You have your priorities straight with your family. And you work. I do not. We are just in different stages of life. You will do it next time. And it will be a best seller.August 7, 2016 – 3:21 am

  • Emily - I just spent the past few days with extended family. Two of my nieces were there with their toddlers and newborns and it brought it all back to me – the baby smell, the constant nursing and diaper changes. On the one hand, I was exhausted just watching them and thankful I had big(ger) boys, but on the other, I was jealous that all of that was behind me now. The best part though was watching my own boys ooh and aah over the babies, asking to hold them, and playing peek-a-boo with them. I saw a side of my boys that was so sweet and nurturing. Made me feel blessed in all kinds of ways. 🙂August 4, 2016 – 10:47 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw toddlers and newborns. True, so much work but it’s hard to know it’s behind us too I think. I love that your boys were oohing and aahing over the babies. That’s adorable and so precious. xoAugust 5, 2016 – 5:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Aw, these are all totally blessings and you just brought me back a bit myself thinking of the last few years with both my girls from the newborn days to th emost present still. Beautiful my friend and definitely sitting here a bit nostaglic counting my own blessings now, too.August 5, 2016 – 2:05 amReplyCancel

  • Vidya Sury - I feel blessed to read this post. I found myself crying (as usual) at the love. Your son is just beautiful and precious and you are a wonderful Mom. Hugs, Kristi.

    When we struggled through life, my Mom always insisted we must see the silver linings, and suddenly everything would become beautiful and much better. Those days, sometimes I believed her, sometimes I did not. Today, I have complete faith.

    Sending you love.August 5, 2016 – 7:37 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Vidya, your sweet wonderful words are going to make me cry. Thank you thank you. It’s amazing how much sweeter life is when we find the silver linings. Truly. Sending you love right back my friend.August 5, 2016 – 5:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - I always love going down memory lane with you and Tucker… reading this through, I nodded along and sighed and smiled and agreed that these truly are your blessings.

    “Folks…” Oh, how I love that kid.August 5, 2016 – 1:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Paul Brads - I miss my kids being little so. Good post, moving.August 5, 2016 – 5:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks, Paul. I miss the younger days too. I must say that I’m really loving seven though. I appreciate your kind comment.August 5, 2016 – 5:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara Klein Bowman - Oh, I know it! I remember feeling sorry for parents of kids, because tiny babies and tiny toddlers were so much FUN! And not really smelly.. except for diapers.
    I have since realized it’s all good at all stages. Well I hope?
    This is a beautiful walk down memory lane!August 5, 2016 – 7:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Corinne - Such a love filled post, Kristi. What a sweetheart – I love the picture of him on the scooter. ‘Tell the folks’ is just too cute!August 5, 2016 – 10:41 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Corinne, and I keep running “tell the folks” in my head too. I have some videos but they were all long and I stink at editing video but so need to learn because that’d be such fun to share.August 5, 2016 – 11:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Lewis - Just gorgeous. Gorgeous gorgeous. SO glad you have him, in all his perfection. <3August 5, 2016 – 11:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - You amaze me over and over and over again. This made me smile big.
    BTW, are you coming to Oregon? Did you already come while I was out of the country? I sure hope not. I’m looking foward to a real, in-person get together! I hope it is soon. Hugs to you and Tucker.August 6, 2016 – 12:01 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Loved these memories and yes, blessed are we to have a kid who has made us think beyond us and our daily regime…Loved tucker’s helmet.August 6, 2016 – 1:54 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Butt who made me laugh to tears! Yes it was funny. You can tell Tucker you told the folks the knock knock joke and they laughed. There’s so much to miss and so much to be thankful for. I love my blog peeps and watching their kids grow through their writing! This was wonderful.August 6, 2016 – 11:23 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG Butt Who made me laugh too! Thank you for seeing the funny in that 🙁 And yeah, the folks. I love my blog peeps too, and seeing our kids. GROW. OMG he’s growing. And I *know* you get that part 🙂
      Also thank you.August 6, 2016 – 11:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Josie Two Shoes - Sweet, sweet, sweet! So much love in these words straight from a mother’s heart. How blessed he is that God gave him to you! <3August 6, 2016 – 12:41 pmReplyCancel

  • yvonne - Aw, it’s lovely to read this and see your love for Tucker shining through.
    I love that you can get delight from small things, that these are your blessings and you wouldn’t trade them!
    I still feel the same way about my daughters and they are 18 and almost 17.August 6, 2016 – 5:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Yvonne.. It’s the small things that really feel the biggest of all. All of them. I know the way of 18 and 17 too… my step daughter is 22. So much love to you.August 6, 2016 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Hillary Savoie - I love that you somehow manage to weave us from Autism to tiny baby heads to scooters to penis jokes. Thank you. It’s a lovely post. And, in all honest, it makes me want to hang with the two of you!August 7, 2016 – 1:37 amReplyCancel

  • Kerry - Aw. Bald baby heads are so sweet. I am hoping to have one in my near future, somewhere in the family, as I just learned of a death in the family at a good advanced age. So, blessings of babies coming into this world and elderly loved ones leaving it, all things I hope to talk about in the mashup of blogging linkups I hope to do with blessings and thankfuls and more, if I can figure out how to create my own perfect little combo platter.
    Folks…love that too.
    The part about dirty feet made me think of my visit with my niece yesterday and her mother noticing how filthy her little girl’s feet had gotten from playing outside without shoes, like grandmother like granddaughter.
    Glad I could make that connection with your post here and my day I just had, mixed with past memories.
    A lot of people and blogging projects coming together to meet up for this one and I am a bit confused by it all, but hope to take part in my own small way, in the next day or so.
    Thanks again Kristi.August 7, 2016 – 2:18 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - His little bald head was so so sweet Kerry! I’m sorry to hear about the death in your family – I hope there’s a new birth soon! I look forward to your mashup – this linkup is open longer than usual so you have time. xoxo
      Here’s to dirty feet from playing outside!August 7, 2016 – 6:20 pmReplyCancel

  • K - I don’t know how I missed this post before – you really do have a lot of blessings in your life, and Tucker is blessed to have you as his mom! I have really enjoyed following along on your journey.

    P.S. I love the Nerf gun tucked into his shirt! And that is DEFINITELY not a baby scooter – as someone who’s never scootered before, I’m very impressed with his scootering skills! 😉August 8, 2016 – 7:50 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I so do have many blessings in my life and I always appreciate the reminder so thank you. I love the Nerf in his shirt, too, he’s so adorable about that. Thanks too for being impressed with his scootering skills. Perspective is such an important pat of life’s journey and I appreciate you giving me this one again. Truly. xoxooAugust 9, 2016 – 12:36 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @TheGoldenSpoons - Beautiful and sweet and perfect! Just like T!! 🙂August 8, 2016 – 8:12 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - You, my dear, are a blessing to your readers, family, Tucker, and the world.

    xxAugust 14, 2016 – 2:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I love reading about Tucker and all the adorable things he does. You know what? That autism test lies. A lot of people can be on the spectrum and not make that test. Autism is so unique between people there really is no way to truly measure it. The best we got is experienced people being able to spot it. But reading about Tucker as long as I have and seeing pictures, especially of his eyes and the glaze that coats it in some of the pictures, I think he’s on the spectrum somewhere, just a place that’s too unique to claim the diagnosis from a clinical standpoint. The Aspie glare is the deadest giveaway you can find. The spacing off into infinity. That’s autism, no matter what the shrinks and “experts” say. You’re doing the right thing with his treatment and your parenting. You’re doing it so well that you are one of your biggest blessings.August 19, 2016 – 7:46 amReplyCancel

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