Traffic Trouble

This past weekend was the annual family trip down to the University of Maryland to attend a football game. Otherwise known to Dude as The-Best-Weekend-Of-The-Entire-Year. (And just to be clear, I’m the one who attended Maryland. Not him.)

The reason the annual trip is Dude’s favorite is because of his deep and abiding love for the Mighty Sound of Maryland. (If you type “Mighty Sound…” or “marching band” into the search bar on this blog, you will find countless entries that attest to this fact.)

We headed down to Maryland on Friday afternoon since we had to get an early start on the festivities on Saturday. (Noon games are the bane of our existence.)

Our plan was to get on the highway by 3:30pm at the latest, so naturally we didn’t get underway till 4:30pm. I-95 during Friday rush hour. Lovely.

The second I got in the car, Dude began his litany of Maryland-isms in his sing-songy voice. “All gone for the marching band. All gone for the marching band. All gone! Soon we go to Maryland. Maryland football game. Maryland marching band. All gone for the practice field. All gone. Soon we go to the practice field.. to see the Mighty Sound of Maryland! All gone for the practice field!” (This went on for three hours. No exaggeration.)

Excitement was radiating off of his skin. He wanted to get to Maryland to see the marching band. Now.

He must have been frustrated with our slow pace because at some point during our crawl along 95, Dude suddenly sang,

“Noooobody knows the trouble I’ve seeeeen. Nooobody knows my sorrow.”

Dad almost ran off the road from laughing so hard.


8 Photos of Dude in His Happy Place That Will Make You Happy

Many online forums (Buzzfeed, HuffPo, Thought Catalog) have been using countdowns to title their posts, so I thought I’d hop on that bandwagon to snag your attention.

Recently, Dude got to go to his happy place.

Otherwise known as the University of Maryland.

First, he got “in the zone” while watching the marching band run its practice several hours before kickoff.

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Then, we got to the stadium about 40 minutes before kickoff because you HAVE to see the teams running their drills and you CAN’T miss the band trucking in or performing their pregame show. (God forbid the Maryland football announcer ever quits or dies. I don’t know what Dude would do if someone else announced “The Miiiiightyyy Souuuuuuuuund of Marrrrrrylaaannnnndddddd!”)

And then, Dude ran through all his scripts and smiled and giggled and had a grand old time.

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Pure joy

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Note the blurriness of his hands. He was either clapping or flapping in his excitement.

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See? Aren’t you happy now?


Soon we go to Maryland?

Two things are important for you to know in order to appreciate this story:

  1. Dude’s love for the University of Maryland is not a casual thing. He knows the words to most of the school songs (I’m willing to bet 85% of Maryland grads don’t know the Alma Mater by heart like he does). He knows the drum cadences. He knows “The Truck” inside out and backwards. He knows the tone of the football announcer’s voice.
  2. Dude has a reading comprehension level somewhere between 3rd and 5th grade. He can also spell, especially words that relate to his special interests. It’s worth noting that Maryland’s victory song ends with spelling it’s name, “M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D, Maryland will win!” Because expressive language isn’t one of Dude’s strengths, people often forget about his other word-related talents.

In Dude’s mind, autumn = Maryland.

Once the annual family vacation is over, Dude starts talking about the next major event due up, which is the annual family trip to a Maryland football game.

Hang out with Dude for 15 minutes between August and October/November, and this is what you’ll probably hear:

“Maryland! Soon we go to Maryland! In the fall! In the fall we go to Maryland. In November. In November we go to Maryland. Practice field! Soon we go to the practice field. No practice field. The Miiiiiighty Souuuuuuund of Marrrrrrrrryland! No saxophone! Maryland allll gone. All gone for Maryland. Maryland alllll finished. Football game. Soon we go to the football game.”

On loop. In his classic sing-songy voice.

As much as I love that he loves my university’s band and football team and that he has the language to express just HOW MUCH HE LOVES IT, it can get a teeeeeeny tiiiiiiny bit annoying.

Apparently Dude’s Maryland loop has not gone unnoticed by the staffers at his residential placement.

When we were visiting a couple weekends ago, one of the staffers asked us, “Umm are you guys going to M-a-r-y-l-a-n-d soon?” She spelled out “Maryland,” hoping to avoid a Dude Maryland-tangent.

“HAHAHAHAHA!” I laughed out loud as Dude’s head snapped around. “Spelling it isn’t going to help you! It’s one of Dude’s favorite words to spell.”

“SOON WE GO TO MARYLAND!” Dude said excitedly as he crossed the room and reached out to touch my chin to prompt me to echo him.

My brother is a traitor–Maryland vs. Penn State

Those of you who obsess over NCAA sports may have heard that Maryland decided to leave the ACC for the Big 10.

Last week, I received an email from Maryland’s Athletic Department, outlining the 2014 football schedule. Yep. Not THIS season’s schedule, but NEXT season’s schedule.

And there it was.

November 1, 2014.

Maryland vs. Penn State AT Happy Valley.

Dude’s two favorite teams. His two favorite marching bands.

Mom called me while she was visiting with Dude last night so I could talk to him as well.

Dude’s concept of time isn’t great–or at least we think it isn’t–but I decided I simply HAD to tell him about this magical event.

“Dude!” I yelled into the phone, giddy with excitement, “Guess who Maryland football is playing next year?”



“Penn State, yo!” Dude responded happily.

“Who are you going to cheer for?” I asked.

I structured the order of the options very specifically. If you give Dude two spoken word options without tangible visible cues, he tends to repeat whatever option you say last.

“Penn State or Maryland?” I asked.

“Penn State!” Dude responded instantaneously.

Sigh. I don’t think Dude quite grasps team loyalty.

Dude and Maryland’s Homecoming Weekend

Two weekends ago was the long-awaited Maryland Homecoming game! Dude has been looking forward to going down to Maryland to see a football game since about March.

In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s game, Dude recited his favorite “scripts” having to do with Maryland. On loop. Here is a sample (to understand Dude’s use of the word “no,” please refer to the Dude Language Guide):

“Practice field. Soon we go to the practice field. No practice field. Practice field on Saturday. The Miiiiiighty Souuuuuuund of Marrrrrrrrryland! No twirlers. Dancers. Color guard. No cheerleaders. Saxophone! Alto saxophone. Tenor saxophone. Soon we go to the The Truck. Practice field. Practice field alllllll gone. All gone for the practice field. Practice field alllll finished. Football game. Soon we go to the Maryland football game.”

Imagine that repeated over. And over. And over.

We arrived in Maryland on Saturday morning just in time to see the band practice. Dude contentedly settled himself into his chair to observe his beloved band. As an added bonus, we ran into my freshman and sophomore year roommate, who Dude had a HUGE crush on.

Dude watching practice w/ me, Kim(!), and our friend Chris

Afterwards, we stopped by my friends’ tailgate. Dude stuffed himself full of a hot dog, chocolate chip cookies, chips, etc. He positioned himself right next to my friend’s oversized speaker to better enjoy the music.

Next, we ran up to the performing arts center so Dude could see the band step off and do The Truck. He grinned as they marched past, chanting their silly words which make no sense to the outside world.

After that, we headed to the stadium to watch the Terps lose in a heart breaker of a game. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t lose as a result of ONE PERSON’S FAILURE TO DO THEIR JOB (ahem, field goal kicker) after rallying in the last five minutes.

Luckily for us, Dude doesn’t care whether the Terps win or lose. He just like the experience of going to see them play.

The Maryland visit ritual continued the next day. We went to our favorite diner for breakfast, and then swung by the bookstore to pick out some Maryland swag for Dude.

Dude-ism #116

We’ve been trying more to have Dude actively participate in simple decisions that affect him. We’ll give him a choice of three desserts and have him choose. We’ll let him decide how he wants to spend his “unwind” time after he gets home from his program. We encourage him to select his breakfast in the morning.

When we got to the bookstore, Mom and Dad picked out several shirts for Dude. He got a football jersey and a long-sleeved shirt. For a third shirt, Mom was trying to decide between the red or black version of this long-sleeved shirt.

“What do you think?” she asked Dad and me, holding up both options.

I shrugged. Dad shrugged.

“Why don’t we ask Dude which one he likes?” Dad suggested.

Dad held up both options.

“Dude, do you want the red Maryland long-sleeved t-shirt, or the black Maryland long-sleeved t-shirt?” Dad showed Dude both the front and back sides.

Which one do you think he picked?







If you guessed both… you are absolutely correct!!!!

Sadly for Dude, he was overruled. The red shirt won.

Did you know that Maryland hosts the Super Bowl? No? Me neither.

Back story #1

Dude started talking about going to see Maryland football games back in March. MARCH. The football season doesn’t start until September.

Back story #2

Sometimes, trying to talk to Dude when he first wakes up in the morning is pretty much impossible. He’ll completely ignore your attempts at engaging him in conversation, or, if he is willing to talk, he will do anything but answer the question you ask him.

Dude-ism #103

I was visiting the family this past weekend and came down the kitchen on Sunday morning around the same time Dude did.

“Good morning, Dude,” I said in greeting.

“Soon we go to Maryland in the fall,” Dude responded.

I decided to go along with his choice of greeting.

“What do we see when we go to Maryland?” I asked.

“Yep,” Dude answered.

Ok maybe my question wasn’t straightforward, I thought. Sometimes he doesn’t understand what I’m asking when I phrase it slightly abstractly.

I tried again, “What kind of game do we go to?”


“Do we go to a soccer game?” I asked.

“Yes! Yes!” Dude nodded emphatically.

A flat-out lie. He does that sometimes.

“No, silly! What game do we see when we go to Maryland?”

“Super Bowl.”

I wasn’t expecting that response. “Huh? Well… no. But you’re close! What sport do they play in the Super Bowl?”

“The NFL.”

Weird. I didn’t know that he knew the name of the league. “Dude, that’s the league. What kind of players play in the NFL?”


Sigh. “Football, Dude. We see a football game when we go to Maryland.”

“YES! YES!” he nodded, smiling.

I swear he does these kinds of things on purpose just to watch me get frustrated.

Dude’s Maryland Adventure Pt. 4 (Final)

I realize I have dragged this out for far too long. I apologize. Work has been busy and blogging hasn’t been my top priority.

Part IV/Dude-ism #75

Nothing of note happened during the game on November 5th. The Terps lost (as per usual).

Fast forward to after the game.

You may not know this, but sometimes Dude is very opinionated about his outfits. Once he gets his mind set on wearing a particular shirt, he will hammer the message home that THAT is THE shirt he wants to wear. He’ll make Mom or Dad take it out of his closet and hang it on his dresser the night before he wants wear it.. simply so he can look at it.

During the football game, Dude got it in his head that he wanted to wear his “black Maryland shirt” on Sunday (thankfully, that was the shirt Mom had packed).

When we returned to my friend’s tailgate, Dude kept saying, “No black Maryland shirt. No black. No black. No black Maryland shirt.” For Dude’s use of the word “no” please refer to the Dude Language Guide.

When it was time to go, we headed to the parking garage. Dad and Dude opened the door to the landing just as the elevator to the landing opened at the same time.

Inside the elevator were two African American men.

Guess what Dude decided to say right at that moment?

“No black!”

Dad quickly piped up, trying not to look sheepish in front of the gentlemen, “Do you want to wear your black Maryland shirt tomorrow? Ok then!”