Sandler Syndrome

Waking from a sound sleep, I asked my husband “What’s that noise downstairs?” When he didn’t respond, I started shaking him. “Wake up! There’s someone downstairs!” Suddenly, the noise grew louder. Grabbing an old crutch from the closet, he quietly snuck down the stairs to surprise the robber. With the crutch raised above his head ready to strike the intruder, my husband jumped into the TV room, yelling “I gotcha!” Standing in his underwear, he stopped in mid-swing, when he found our son. “Oh no!” he gasped. “It’s much worse than a robbery!” He found our son watching Grown Ups 2.

Joining them, I asked “What is going on?” It was then our son admitted that he had been sneaking down at night for months to watch Adam Sandler movies. “They’re cool, and they make me laugh,” he justified. “Months? How could we not know for months?” With his head down, he nodded yes. At the time, we didn’t want to admit it, but something was wrong. The next morning I made an appointment with his doctor.

“What seems to be the problem?” his pediatrician asked. “He has been acting strangely,” I began. “Last night we caught him watching Grown Ups 2.” I hesitated and then I continued, “Apparently, he has been sneaking downstairs to watch Adam Sandler movies at night for months.” Dr. Feldman raised an eye brow, and asked, “Has there been a history of similar abnormal behavior?”

I took a deep breath and began, “when he was a baby, I used to catch him telling himself jokes and laughing in his crib. And, he would only eat, if I sang like Opera Man for him.” The doctor gave me a reassuring look and nodded for me to continue. “Then, as a toddler, he started lining up his stuffed animals to listen to his stand-up routines. Then, one day I came to pick him up at school and he was on the stage telling jokes to the other students,” I continued. “The teachers told me he killed it.”

“Are there any other symptoms?” he asked before evaluating the situation. I pulled out and handed him a piece of paper on which I wrote:

  •  He wants Bayou Frog Muffins
  •  He wants the knee of a roasted snake for supper
  •  He has requested grilled baby alligators for lunch
  •  He’s obsessed with water purity
  •  He wants me to pay his allowance in meatballs
  •  He has been craving Popeye’s fried chicken
  •  He pretends to attend Heaven and Hell mixers with his friends
  •  He brings a hockey stick when we play mini-golf
  •  His best friend is a Walrus
  •  He wants to sail to Alaska to study Walruses
  •  He wants Gatorade and Reese’s peanut butter cups for breakfast

I watched as he read the list with a sinking feeling in my stomach. As he continued down the list, Dr. Feldman’s eyes grew larger. “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” he scolded me. “I have one final question. Did you watch Adam Sandler movies during your pregnancy?” I couldn’t answer. With my head down, I just shook my head yes.

“But, no one said anything about Adam Sandler movies,” I protested. “I abstained from alcohol, sushi, swordfish, tuna, deli meat and a three page list of foods and medications.” I defended. “I did everything they told me to do.”

Clearing his throat, Dr. Feldman began, “There is a little known disorder called the Sandler Syndrome. Recent studies have found a correlation between expectant mothers who watched Adam Sandler movies during their pregnancy and the childhood symptoms that you mentioned,” he stopped for a moment to let me digest his diagnosis.

In my head I was screaming, “Noooooo! Not the Sandler Syndrome!” How could this happen? It seemed so harmless to watch The Waterboy, Little Nicky, Happy Gilmore, Mr. Deeds, The Wedding Singer, Billy Madison, Big Daddy, Anger Management, 50 First Dates and Spanglish.

“Some studies have shown that Reign over Me can counter the effects of his other movies, but there is nothing conclusive yet” Dr. Feldman continued. “The Board of Gynecology and Obstetrics is now recommending no more than one Adam Sandler movie per week during pregnancy.”

Panicking I asked, “But what about my son? What can we do for him?” Shaking his head, he said, “I’m sorry. There is no known effective treatment for this disorder. The accepted therapies that have been tried usually only give the patients more material for their stand-up routines. You need to accept that your son is doomed to a life of comedy.”