Running the Marathon


If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about my kid is that he can be a bit of a manipulator it’s important to stop and really talk to him. This means when he is complaining about school, or crying about some kids on the yard, I can’t just take it at face value. It’s time to really pay attention and dig deeply. One friend in particular encouraged me to really hear my son out – to tell him that we were on his team and would support and protect him no matter what.

And so, that’s exactly what I have been doing. I have been going out of my way, as has Rex, to sit and talk with him about the dynamics of class and the playground. Of course I would take him out of school in a second if I thought major damage was being done. But sometimes kids are awful. This does not mean we need to vacate. It means Stink needs to use his voice to change the situation the best he can, and what he can’t change, we deal with then.

In navigating the past month’s ups and downs, it has meant really talking to Stink, but staying detached and focusing objectively on the situation. Given this kid was literally attached to me for nine months, then spent the better part of the last decade tethered to me like emotional velcro, the task of staying centered is not an easy one.

But, having been at this parenting thing for a while, it’s exactly what I put into practice. Turns out, the play yard situation has indeed improved – something that wouldn’t have happened had I yanked him out of public school at the first sign of trouble. Together, with my husband, we spoke to his teacher yesterday about his lack of joy for school.  She set us at ease that part of this is fifth grade hormones and academic pressures. But a big part of it, we found out, was that Stink feels there’s no fun.

Me: “What specifically isn’t fun?”

Stink: “All the test prep. That’s why I want to be home schooled.”

(Side note: Wanting to be home schooled to get out of school work is far different than wanting to be home schooled because kids are being mean to him, hence talking a bit more deeply and really pushing him on the subject.)

Rex:  “What do you think being home is going to achieve?”

Stink: “I don’t know, but it’s more fun. There’s also the computer.”

Me: “It’s always the blipping computer I am going to bomb that sucker!!!!!!!!!! I know you want to play more video games, but it’s not good for your focus, especially now that you’re off your focus pills.”

Him: “Even on the pills, I find myself always thinking about playing video games. It’s what I really love.”

(Side note: I have often thought about taking away the computer all together, but here’s the deal: If a kid loved ballet and only focused on that, is taking away ballet going to make her study more at school? What if Bill Gates’ mom took away his interest. Instead, why not use the interest to motivate him to do the boring stuff?)

Me: “How about we let you play 30 minutes/day during the week IF you get your homework done. And IF you take up a sport to get your energy out, especially since you don’t have a pill to calm down your spinning but fabulous brain.

Stink: I would love that!

Teacher: I will say his focus has dropped, but it’s not affecting his school work at all. He’s really learning all the material.

Stink: See, Mom?

Me: Okay, but are you sure the kids at school aren’t—

Stink: NO ONE IS BEING MEAN TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I believe him. This is a child who is not depressed. This is a kid who cannot hide pain or sadness. He’s a con-artist, but not a great bluffer.

So that’s where we are at. My kid is not being bullied. My kid is thriving academically as far as tests go. My kid is just lazy and wants to sit on his butt and play computers all day.

Please tell me your thoughts on using an obsession/passion as bait to accomplish the school work?

PS: As always, I would like to encourage you that parenting and tics and everything in between is best run as a marathon, not a race. We’re gonna have good days and bad ones, and it’s best to pace yourself!

* Pic taken at his school’s Kids’ Dash. As you can see, he is clearly miserable.

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

2 thoughts on “Running the Marathon”

  1. I wouldn’t think of it as “bait”. Let’s say reward. He is being “rewarded” of doing a good job getting his school work done. If Dom ends up being a computer genius…you will be very happy you gave him that “bait”!

    Karen b

  2. Hello..I’m new to this site and so glad to have found you tonight. My 10 1/2 yr old son was diagnosed about 2 months ago. Started ticcing a little over a year ago, Mostly it is facial and head tics, minor vocal (clears throat every once in a while) The tics that are going on now started beginning of summer. He was tic free for a few months before these started. Eye rolling was first, then stopped. Throat clearing and a “hmmm” noise followed, then went away. Now the head/facial for about 5 months now. I have to say I am in a deep depression and just had a meltdown in front of my husband a little while ago. He was actually shocked that I wasn’t the strong positive person I have been pretending to be. I think he was mad because he had it in his mind I could fix this with all of the obsessive research on the subject I have been doing. I finally admitted to him that I realized I probably can’t do a damn thing about it. My son has had 6 acupuncture treatments and started gluten free 2 weeks ago. STUPID ME! I actually thought I wouldn’t see any tics almost immediately. Well, he’s been ticcing constant since yesterday (right after the acupuncture!) so now I feel like an idiot and I’m more confused than ever. Right now he is doing great in school (a/b student) has lots of friends and is a fantastic baseball player. (His team is 7-0 right now with 3 games left!!-SOOOO PROUD!) Anyway, I had a breakdown because I finally came to the realization that any day his world can turn upside down and the tics can change for the worse. I am physically ill. My husband says they don’t have to get worse but I know he is just in denial. I haven’t read 1 story about someone’s child whose tics didn’t get worse, so why would we be so special? Anyway, I’m so sad right now. It’s nice to know you are here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.