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“Huh.” It’s a Complete Sentence and Will Revolutionize Your Relationship With Your Teen. (I Swear.)

For me, having my children become teenagers was like having a cherished family pet die. I had been so accustomed to the presence of sweet, happy go-lucky kids that the intrusion of unexpected and prolonged silence was unexpected. No more jumping up to see me when I came home from work. No more following me around the house. Granted, there was less whining, but a lot less sprinting for joy at the site of my mediocre cooking.

With teenagers came aloofness and quiet.

The change felt jarring.

And sad.

And for this mama who – despite trying really hard not to be a helicopter mama – still swelled with joy at every little milestone, it felt terribly lonely.

All the prep in the world couldn’t have prepared me for my 13-year-old / size 13 shoe wearing boy turning me down for In and Out Burger this summer. “Sorry, Mom. I’ve got a Minecraft hangout scheduled with the guys.”

All the chats with moms of girls older than mine didn’t ease the blow when my curvy hipped 13-year-old this year started declining watching Mama movies with me. (Apparently Youtube is more exciting than classics like The Breakfast Club or kitshy Brady Bunch re-runs. Who knew?)

While I figured I would make it through the moody “Leave me alone” stage, I wasn’t expecting the “everything you say sucks, Mom” stage. Sure, I’ve read in all those fancy journals about how kids practice on Mom to learn to set boundaries elsewhere, but it still hurt.

And, despite my best efforts to let it roll off my back, I sometimes hurt them right back. Door slam for door slam, verbal insult for verbal insult, the three of us had some pretty exciting car rides. The most fulfilling were always on the way to church. On route to being holy, we held each other hostage within locked doors, each one-upping the other’s statements in a vicious attempt to win an argument over who made who late.

If I had to put it simply, all that “relationship over being right” theory sounded good until they developed body hair. And then it all went to crap, along with my hopes of ever being close to them again.

Until last month, when my daughter locked herself in the bathroom on Halloween, and my world forever changed. While I hadn’t tried to cajole her out the door to trick or treat with her brother and bestie, I did attempt to insert my opinion when the whole ordeal was over.

“What’s your part?” I asked her, after listening to every painstaking detail about why things just didn’t “go her way” and how “unfair it was.”

I didn’t see a thing wrong with my words. After all, I didn’t interrupt her once. I was a good listener. Now was her time to listen so she wouldn’t lose out on future opportunities to have fun. Right?

Wrong.

Pip: “Mom, to be honest, I just wanted you to listen and not say anything.”

For whatever reason, instead of defending my statements (which, come on, were totally amazing points and great advice… saving her thousands of dollars in future therapy) I asked her the simple question, “You mean, not say anything? At all?”

Pip: “Yeah. Nothing.”

Me: “Huh.”

People, did you know “Huh” is a complete sentence? With that very caveman response, I unintentionally broke through the teenage time space contingency and found an oasis of understanding, hearing and safety. Unexpectedly, I heard something that could have blown me over with a feather:

Pip: “Yeah. I would have been open maybe tomorrow, but today I just wanted to be heard.”

And with that last statement, as if by some magical alien implanting a chip, everything flashed before my eyes, including a resolution:

  1. If I just stay silent, she’ll tell me more.
  2. If I ask if I can give an opinion first, she’ll feel more respected
  3. If I don’t ask and just give the opinion, she might not be listening anyway
  4. Unless what she is saying to me is directly affecting me, my schedule or my life in a negative way, there’s no need to say anything at all.

NOTE: Pay most attention to #4 – it helps in the heat of battle to know when to lobby a missle or flee.

As if to hit the nail on the head even more, my son asked his sister the very next day, “Hey, Pip, do you mind telling me what happened? Only if you want to?”

She did. In the same painstaking, blow by blow, OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP detail.

His response, “Ahhh. That must have been hard.”

Her response: “Yeah.”

His followup: “Want to play Minecraft?”

Her response: “Let’s do it.”

Done.

The End.

The real takeaway: Saying less really does mean more in the life of a teen. 

2 more things

  1. Since Halloween, I’ve used the word “Huh” more times than I can count. And it’s been more peaceful in this house than it’s been in a year.
  2. My son will be 15 next month. He’s 6’3, wears a size 14 shoe, and eats more than large farm animal. (Oh, he hasn’t eaten animals in a year, either. In addition to being psychologically more in tune than me, he’s also a vegetarian.)

Ask me how little Stink is now bigger than my fridge? You’ll only get one response so I don’t cry.

“Huh.”

 

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My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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That Time I Got Fired from the PTA…

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Okay, I wasn’t really fired a few months back. I was just told, by text, that perhaps I might be a better fit in a big picture role. “One that doesn’t require you losing important files and actually being able to make planning meetings with the rest of the moms who, well, actually not only remember to post things before they are due but don’t take home 3-ring binders full of volunteer sign-ups and only return it when reminded about it two weeks later.”

In truth, the person who texted me did not say that last part. She was more than gracious. Her words, in essence, said, “I’m thinking we should find a better role for your talents before your challenges become a problem.”

My ego: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Who needs you!”

The reality… the really hard, “Crap I hate to admit it” truth: “Thank you. You saved me… and everyone else… a ton of headache long term.” She even sent me a Brene Brown book with a very sweet note attached. It was touching and only reinforced more that sometimes pride must be put down. Friends don’t let friends make butts of themselves. As J.K. Rowling says in the first Harry Potter, ““It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” – Albus Dumbledore.

Magical vs. Miraculous Thinking

Similar to a lot of things in life, I like the idea of stuff a lot more than I like the reality of it. Ex – Magical Thinking: My after-work life is going to include hob-nobbing with  vegan moms in pencil skirts wearing amazing yoga pants and washing down GMO free delights with organic wheat grass smoothies!

Ex: Miraculous Thinking: AKA Reality: My after-work life will include powering through post-school meetings (if I even show up at all… my kid is in eighth grade… we’re both over it) to show up early for 12-step meetings where I can huddle over really bad dark coffee with other moms like me, laughing about our fantasy thinking (the more screwed up the better!) and feeling like I’ve arrived – finally – at the right watering hole.

Lest it comes off like I’m some nut job who can’t get my act together, let me be the first to say that it’s far that. Instead, I’m finally starting to see who I am: I’m not better than anyone else or worse than anyone else. I’m right in the middle where the grace lives. Where I can wade and sometimes splash in the beautiful, messy and ridiculous waves of, “Well, that was a disaster but at least I tried!” It’s so much better than sitting on the shore watching everyone else surf (or drown.) And If I’m lucky, I might even score a free beach ball.

God is great – because He lets you practice your thinking over and over… and (in my case) over again!

Today, as I drove home from downtown Los Angeles, I had an opportunity to choose magical vs. miraculous thinking. Once again, a job I thought I had in the bag – one that would be really good for my family – didn’t work out. I was offered the opportunity to do something else – one that would require I go back to school at night.

At first I was honored and my brain started to spin with the oh-so-familiar, “What if this is the life-line I need? What if this is God telling me to put down the writing for a bit and go for the safe route? I could decorate my classroom like the Magic School Bus? I could learn how to play the guitar and buy cute shoes with school books on them. And I could face my fear of angry parents during I.E.P. meetings!”

But, to quote one of my favorite lines from Moonstruck, “Playing it safe is one of the worst things a girl like you can do.”

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What if my whole life I haven’t actually been hitting road blocks from trying? What if it’s been from trying too hard to play it safe? What if, like so many dreamers out there, God might just have me exactly where I am? Finishing up that book proposal… working on that movie idea next… coming back to this blog… going to my 12-step groups… going to church… and remembering that who I am, exactly at this moment, is exactly where I’m meant to be?

And with the right Good Will find, a 1960’s pencil skirt might be in my future yet.

What’s up with you all!?

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(Brene Brown talks a lot about having the courage to fail. Quote idea from one of her Ted Talks.)

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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Ode to Finding My Blessings (And Yours!)

It’s busy as a working mom

My sanity… it’s sometimes gone

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There’s always last minute dirty dishes

Laundry, shopping and teenage wishes

What? My husband? He wants sex?

The dog is barking? Oh, no , what’s next?

Halloween… Thanksgiving… Christmas, too?

Plus in my family, we’ve also got Jews

That means Hannukah and 8 days of light

An 8 day cruise? Now THAT sounds right

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Maybe instead of all this shopping

This tired mom could go island hopping

How many hours could I lose?

Chillin’ on an Alaska cruise…

Maybe Hawaii, Alaska or even France?

A captains lunch… a dinner dance…

And yet… as nice as this all may sound

As day dream thoughts in my head go round

I think of the world… and all that’s insane

The far right marches… the hurricanes…

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North Korea missles… and refugees

Guess who’s lucky? Yup, that’s me.

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So I don’t have a maid…

I don’t have a cook

Compared to most

I’m like a crook

I’ve made off with the health

I’ve made off with sweet kiddos

Safe home and a job?

Ditto and ditto

And so while there’s always some things I would swap for another

I’m one lucky wife. I’m a damn lucky mother.

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So with that this small poem

Is almost complete

I’ve got a bath to be taken

And a pit bull at my feet

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I hope that you readers

Can find blessings, too

In all who you love

And in all that you do.

Got any gratitude? Leave it in the comment below.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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Happy School Year!

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It’s been a few weeks of hell life on life’s terms.

I say “hell” – but in reality, it’s just been busy. Maybe you know the feeling.

  • Shopping for school supplies
  • Shopping for shoes
  • Last minute haircuts
  • Lunch shopping
  • My daughter having to get rescued by a life guard last Friday at the beach
  • My daughter getting bitten by a dog a few days later

Let’s not forget I had to get adjusted to a new classroom this year, too.

Add in meals, shopping and the general state of insanity in this crazy go-go-go world it can be easy to feel depleted.

And let’s face it, sometimes I am.

But this school year, more than before, I’m determined to focus on what’s going right. The negative will always be there, but really, is it negative? Or is it just my own expectations falling short? While sometimes things just aren’t acceptable, often times, it’s my insistence on perfection that makes the every day ups and downs of life feel more burdensome. That, my friends, is something I’m really working on.

Counting My Blessings (Yes, It’s Cheesy, But I Don’t Care)

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Sure, my kid still has some tics, but he is making out just fine. He is meeting friends, getting to class and so far hasn’t decided that everything about ninth grade is stupid. (That will happen likely next Wednesday, but for now, I’m enjoying the honeymoon.)

How to Survive a Teenager? Stop Nagging and Let Them Be THEM

Part of the success I feel in my kid’s year so far has been my lack of nagging. As a control freak, A-personality type, I really really REALLY want him to do well in school and life. But over the past few years, it’s become super clear to me that his life means his life. Not mine. I can offer suggestions and give ideas, but in the end, I’ve found he and I do a lot better when I’m not policing his every move. Relationship over being right has worked better in our case. This, sadly for the perfectionist in me, means letting go of:

  • A clean room (It looks North Korea finally fired that missile)room
  • Tic management (He still doesn’t want to do meds or go dairy free. Eye rolls and shakes could go away with some CBD oil, but he’s not having it. It’s his body so it’s his call.)
  • Stupid arguments (Apparently he knows everything there is to know about Gravity Falls, how to clean up acne and why essential oils are really not all they are cracked up to be. Not. Worth. Fighting.)

What I Hold My Ground On

  • Rudeness. He is simply not allowed to treat me like a servant. He is part of the family. I don’t work for him.
  • Chores. If he wants to spend thirty minutes looking for his size 14 shoes (yes, SIZE 14) under Mt. Stinky 6’3 Pile O Laundry, let him. But if it’s his turn to do the dishes or clean the dog poo, it’s got to happen.

And Then There’s This

This my son’s answer to him and his sister’s chore list. To say I screamed in shock at “Thou Who Will Not Be Named”‘s face on my fridge is an understatement.

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But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I can spend the end of a Wednesday evening, even when I’ve dishes to clean and floors to mop, trying to take his property in Monopoly. Because at some point this 9th grader is going to realize he’s cuter than he realizes and some other girl is going to want to hang with him instead.

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A sense of humor in this house is pretty darn important. It trumps tics, money and being right every single time.

I hope you’ll join me on the path to loving our kids exactly where they’re at. It’s not always easy, but it’s the best “Get out Jail Card” I know.

Until next time,

Andrea

 

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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At Last I See the Light – and You Can, Too

Anyone who knows me personally (or has read here long enough) knows how hard I am on myself. “If only I spent more time with my kids” or “If only I didn’t hover so much” or “If only I didn’t sing opera in Costco and embarrass them in front of the frozen fish” I’d feel like an adequate mom.

It’s dawning on me, more and more lately, that I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to show up as the best Andrea I can be. I don’t get the gold star of approval only when I fix some of my son’s tics.

I don’t get it when my paycheck goes above a certain amount or when I take my daughter to Hurricane Harbor and pay more for a locker rental than I normally spend on Starbuck’s during the week. (Oh my goodness, they rape you over there. It’s ridiculous!)

Happiness doesn’t come in the future of when’s. As one of my dear friends recently reminded me, “Someday is not a day of the week.”

As I mentioned in this post, my husband and I had made a huge mistake in moving the kids upstairs while we lived as servants in the room off the kitchen. Having shared a room their entire life, it was a HUGE deal for them to have a beautiful and huge space to themselves. It felt a bit traitor like to tell them on Tuesday, “Hey, kids, sorry. We know you adore your private islands, but you’re being downgraded to the kitchen and living room wings.

You know what? They took the news really well. Well, mostly well. When I asked Stink about how he felt, he looked at me with 14 year old disdain, grunted in his man/child voice, and reported, “You know when Donald Trump said he was going to build a pipeline? I feel like the Native Americans: Violated.

Fair enough.

A Faith Move

For some of you, moving rooms might not seem like such a big deal. For me, it was more than a physical victory. It was an emotional one. For so much of my parenting, I have lead out of guilt. Call it the Tourettes diagnosis for Stink, or the guilt of not being present enough for my daughter during the early years. But for some reason, it was there – driving how I treat myself. Subconsciously I was telling myself, through the oh so noble and selfless actions of “giving up my own space” that those kids were worth more than my husband and my relationship.

And they are not.

To love them best we must take care of ourselves. For us, that means decent sleep and energy to do the things we need to do to run this family with love, acceptance, patience and tolerance.

Odd or God?

Is it odd or God that immediately after giving our renter notice two weeks ago, and our kids “notice” about their switch on Tuesday, that the energy in this house shifted?

My husband has a new business opportunity.

I am sticking to my musical writing schedule. (Yes, I am writing a musical that involves camels and nasty Arabian horses. I’m not normal.)

And last week, while networking for my husband’s biz, I ran into the director of a local opera company who I had interviewed for the paper a few years ago. “We are always looking for young talent!” he told us.

Today my daughter auditioned, and she relied on me – her mama – to get her there. What a shift from two weeks ago when she wouldn’t get off the couch. We went over the song at least 24 times. She borrowed my makeup bag. She even, as a break in between, started reading to me a novel that moved her 13 year old soul and wanted me to share in the joy. I say this less as “Wow I Deserve An Award” but more as a “When I Lead as a Mom Who Values herself, my kid subconsciously gets this and feels safe.” It was a tough lesson to learn – many nights of yelling and screaming and overall crankiness, but I learned it.

As my sweet teen stood, back erect, in front of that baby grand piano and belted her song from Tangled, I teared up, because it’s so true of my journey up until this point. And maybe it’s true of yours, too.

All those days, watching through the windows

All those years, outside looking in

All that time, never really knowing

Just how blind I’ve been

Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight

Now I”m here, suddenly I see

Standing here, it’s oh so clear

I’m where I’m meant to be

And at last I see the light

And it’s like, the fog has lifted

And at last I see the light

And it’s like the sky is new

And it’s warm and clear and bright

And the world has somehow shifted

All at once, everything is different

Now that I see you

I See You Special Needs Mamas

And you’re going to be okay. Join me on this journey to showing our kids that we are worth, like the song says, “shifting” perspective. I can promise you, if you do, the sky will be new and the stars will be bright.

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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Refocusing the Blog: AGAIN

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Okay, I had this big thing going this summer where I was writing about:

* Tic Tuesdays
* Fun Fridays (Parenting)
* Writing Wednesdays
* Mystery Mondays!

Here’s the deal. As a writer, who is working on the side at a day job, I started putting what I wanted to do (a new book on fun parenting) into a site that mostly gets traffic for tics.

It wasn’t working for me.

As I look at the stats for this site, it’s clear that most of you come here for help with tics and special needs – so that’s where I’m staying.

If I’ve confused you, I’m sorry. Like our kids with tics and special needs, focus can get the best of us. I’m no exception. The key is to find my way home again, and that’s to you special needs mamas.

If you want specific tic topics, please leave a comment.

I’ll Be Here, 2 Days/Week!

I’m going to keep writing 2 days/week on tics and keep it simple. When my new book comes out, you better buy that one, too, though. Because the ultimate goal for me is to quit the day job and do what I do best – stay in my pjs, laugh and drink too much coffee.

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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It’s Not About the Fixing the Tics… It’s About Fixing Our Eyes on The One Who Matters Most

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Many of you who have read this blog know that I went through hell and back trying to come to terms with my son’s Tourette Syndrome. I tried everything including, but not limited to:

  • Acupuncture
  • Gluten free/dairy free diet
  • Naturopath visits
  • Brain balance
  • Medication
  • ….and more

Despite my efforts to suppress the tics, they still came back. Do I think we could have done more? Yes. But we didn’t. Why? Stink could care less about them. Even at 14, they are still here, head nodding their way through an exciting episode of Gravity Falls… eye rolling their way through a video game… – but they are background players to a movie script full of life, excitement and drama. They are part of who he is, not who he is.

Got Special Needs? My Book Will be Your BFF

Despite my book starting out as a “How to Fix Tics” novela, it quickly became a book on how to love your child for who he is, despite the tics. It became a book for parents of special needs in general – a guide to navigating a diagnosis that you weren’t expecting with some humor, strength and hope.

My Book Will Make You Feel Less Alone

If you are dealing with a diagnosis that is threatening to take you under, Happily Ticked Off is for you. It will make you feel less alone. Why? Because I’ve been there, done that. I’ve been in the I.E.P. meetings. I’ve been to the doctors and the shrinks. I’ve been the lunatic in the grocery store aisles mortgaging my house on organic food because I was positive that if we just had gluten free bread and some Taurine life would become more manageable.

I’m Not God

Threaded through my book is my journey towards a God I came to call Jesus. Why did I end up there? (“Dear God, she’s becoming a holy roller. What happened to our fun Pass the Zoloft cabernet swigging writer friend?” I’ll tell you, people: she realized she simply couldn’t be God. She was a writer, but someone else wrote her story.)

“So My Kid has Tourettes? I’m Supposed to Just Sit Back and Pray the Shoulder Shrugs Away?”

NO. Far from it! The truth is – and I mean this – there is a lot you can do with diet and exercise, but that’s not my expertise. It’s not my story. My son’s special needs life took a turn when he threw his diagnosis on its head and decided that his personality and soul were far superior to his twitches. The story didn’t end with an answer to tics. It began with God being my answer first – then everything else fell into place.

How Can This Book Help You?

If your son or daughter is really struggling with their diagnosis, tics or other, you might wonder why my book can help? It can help you because while I show my own journey to sanity (one that you can learn a lot from – both the ups and downs). It will keep you grounded on what is important while you find your way to peace.

Peace and Special Needs – Is That Possible? YES

Peace can come with a diet that helps tics.

Peace can come with a medication that helps ADD or ADHD.

Peace can come with a vitamin or therapy that helps with Autism issues.

But in the end, peace comes first when we realize that who we are as parents are good enough.

That our kids were created in the image of a God who loves us no matter what.

When we start with the notion that our kids are perfect despite some imperfections because the God who made them is perfect, then we are more relaxed to love them, find solutions and help them become adults who have confidence, strength and purpose to help others.

When they become rooted in who they are in God, the tics, autism and everything else become, like my son’s challenges, background noises in a script full of life, hope, peace and joy.

Moms, You Are Going to Be Okay!

And your child is going to be okay.

That’s because God is good enough to be with us every step of the way.

How Can I Pray for You?

Leave me a comment and let me know how I can pray for you and support you.

 

Until next time…

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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