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Stink’s First Love

It was a long but productive day in the land of Parent Coffee’s, after school pizza and some new work prospects – with lots of Ebay, writing, kid pick up, drop off and cooking shoved in between.

After school, Stink and his buddy quickly got into video games (long anticipated with none Monday – Thursday). That’s when the phone rung. It was a girl. And it was bound to happen. I couldn’t be the reining thin in his heart forever.

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Girl: Stink’s Mom?

Me: Yes.

Girl: It’s Evelyn. I was wondering if Stink was going to go to the community pizza and movie night and, well, I am, so I thought maybe he’d want to go… too?

Me: No, he’s not allowed to go out with girls until he is 28 Do you want to ask him yourself?

Girl: Yes, I do.

Me: I know you do I’m just being nice this isn’t happening Oh, okay.

(Me… running with cell into the TV room.)

Me: (covering phone) Stink… (igoring me) STINK. It’s Evelyn.

Him: (non-plussed.) Oh, okay. (grabs phone, listens. Huge, enlightening conversation follows.) Huh. Oh. Wow. No I have a friend here. Okay. Bye. (click)

Me: Um, Stink, did she ask you to go to that party?

Him: (back on his game) Um, yah.

Me: Do you think it might have taken her a lot of courage to call you?

Him: Um… why?

Me: Because SHE’S A GIRL and that’s not easy!

Him: Oh. (then) Um, Mom, you’re blocking my view.

Me: (standing in front of him) Listen, I am not trying to be controlling here, but do you like this person as a friend?

Him: (genuinely surprised by my question.) OF COURSE, MOM!

Me: Then perhaps you should call back and invite her here.

This is the part that shocks me the most.

Him: Good idea!

Grabs phone. Looks into space. Talks.

Him: Hi, It’s Stink. So, hey, I can’t go to the party but you can come here.

Okay, really, THIS is the part that shocks me the most.

Him: Oh, you have to go to that party? Well, how about we get together another time? Okay, bye!

And that was that.

I have two things to say about that.

  1. I am by no means pushing my kid to like a girl – especially when he’s not really there yet.
  2. I don’t think, even if my kid was into girls, he needs to like the first girl who likes him. But as a former young girl myself, it seems to make sense that if a female is going to be bold enough to call, he can at least learn how to be kind, respectful, and elevate a few degrees higher than caveman.

Actually, the third thing I have to say is that while I might not have lost my boy to another seventh grade girl – yet – I lost his heart to something else a long time ago. Sigh. Anyone out there relate?

Until next time, remember to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

More of my writing can be found at AndreaFrazerWrites, on Facebook at Happily Ticked Off or on Twitter @AndreaFrazerWrites. 

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My Prayer Square

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I’ve been practicing meditation lately. Not the kind of meditation where I sit for thirty minutes at a session, empty my brain of all things Andrea, and go blue with bliss like that scene in Eat Pray Love where Elizabeth Gilbert hits nirvana as the greeter at the Ashram or leaves all her problems at the top of the bell tower, walks down, and three chapters later is having wild sex with Felipe in a bed that resembles a floating parachute. (That happens to me every day, though, trust me.)

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I’m talking the kind of meditation where you just allow yourself to be where you are at any given moment. There is no judgment of thought. No should’s. (I mean really, people, I’m so tired of shoulding on myself!) No. It’s about just letting whatever is be what it is. Life on life’s terms.

If this meditation practice of mine was compared to a baby’s journey toward development, you could seriously put me in the “Crawling on Her Belly” category, but even us crabs have to scuttle before we can swim.

Take yesterday’s event after Stink’s tennis practice. I didn’t hyperventilate.That was a form of meditation! Hooray! After all, panicking about the future wasn’t going to get my car keys back.

Today, with Stink’s new vocal tic resembling Bobby Brady’s scratchy voice during puberty, thinking about how he was teased about a similar sound a few years ago is simply not helpful. I went on a walk instead and allowed myself to speak truthfully to my spouse about something that had been bugging me. He handled it well, I took his suggestion, he decided to work on his part… boom! So much better than sitting in the den, listening for squeaks with the obsession of a hound dog hunting runaway prisoners.

I’m finding that for me, the real answer to peace is to somehow enjoy the moment exactly as the moment is. Sometimes, it simply means finding a prayer square.

What’s a Prayer Square?

A prayer square, for me, is an upgraded version of “standing on my square” that my friend Barbara used to tell me to do. When I’d ruminate and complain and spin more than a tilt-a-wheel on truck stop java, she’d tell me to get my head out of my arse, clean house, trust God and help others.

One day, after one of her “pep talks” she told me find a square in my kitchen and stand there. “Plant your feet, look at them, and let all your energy and anger and pain just go from the tip of your head down to your ankles and root yourself in the floor.”

At first, that sounded pretty stupid. Sure, I’d try, but inevitably I’d focus on my stained tennis shoes and the damn dog fur, not to mention that the grout in my tile was not a natural black because I am such a bad housekeeper and OUCH! Without fail I’d virtually fall off the prayer square, hit my head on the tile, and wind up with a massive headache from trying too hard.

But eventually, it got easier. Because, well, my best thinking got me nowhere. And as silly as it felt to stand on a square in the middle of my dirty kitchen, it felt better than lying on my couch in a heap of misery over what I couldn’t change.

But something was missing so, not one to stick with dogma just for the sake of dogma, I switched it up a bit. I threw in some prayer.

For me, it’s hard to have monkey mind when I’m thanking God for something in my life. “Thank you, God, for this moment. For this kitchen in all its imperfection. For my life, with all the beauty and all the warts. I feel your energy from the tip of my head to the ends of my toes. Thank you.”

It worked. It really did. Eventually I started being able to stand there longer and longer. But, well, since life happens with kids and dogs and renters and husbands, it became apparent that I would have to leave the house. Every day.

Since it wasn’t always feasible to run back to my kitchen when things got wonky (which for me were, um, a lot,) I found prayer squares in public. Take last night, for example. While hiking up the park lawn to the office, only to find the doors locked for Yom Kippor (Happy Shana Tova, my Jewish readers!) my eye landed on a beautiful pepper tree. Something about the night sky, combined with the warm air and its branches hovering over me like a warm embrace made me feel safe. For a few seconds, I wasn’t thinking about how I would get home without a set of keys. I was focused on the love of that tree.

“Go lie down under it!” my gut told me. And believe me, I almost did. But given it was 8:30, some homeless bums were eyeing me from the office patio and I didn’t feel like being raped, harassed for food, or perhaps even asked for food while I was being raped, I decided it wasn’t a good idea. But I made a promise to it to go back. “Hello, sweet tree! I can’t wait to see you again. I will sit under you, and look up at your branches and just feel whatever I feel. And I thank you for not kicking me out. Because, well, with what I think about sometimes, I’d kick me out.”

Trees are like the best of friends. They listen and they don’t talk back. I hope to be a better friend like that some day, not because I ‘should’ but because that’s what being a friend is all about.

And if you, my friend, happen to be in my area, perhaps we’ll go sit under that tree together. And we’ll not worry about what we cannot change. We won’t fear the future or regret the past but just relish the absolute joy of the present moment with the earth at our feet and the sky over our heads. We’ll just revel in our prayer square and feel God’s love from the tips of our heads to the ends of our toes.

Sounds like a hoot, eh?

Until next time, remember to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

More of my writing can be found at AndreaFrazerWrites, on Facebook at Happily Ticked Off or on Twitter @AndreaFrazerWrites. 

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From “That Sucked” to “Miracle”

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Tonight at my kid’s tennis lesson I had a long conversation with a dad who happens to have an auto-immune disorder. This dad has a kid at my kid’s school who inherited his disease. As fate would have it, another friend of mine’s kid, from the same school, just had her kid diagnosed with the same auto-immune disorder as this dad from tennis. (It was kind of a six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon and wonky diagnoses moment. So fun! Grab the insulin shot and a slice of gluten free bread pronto!)

This just brought up a whole slew of conversation back and forth like, “Would we, if we had known about our wonky genetics, have gone into parenting so readily?”

For both of us, it was an astounding “Yes, of course!” Neither of us could imagine not having the children that we do. It’s not about auto immune disorders but the soul that matters. (Even if that soul happens to be my son who was getting me so darn mad moments before the tennis lesson that I’m surprised I didn’t lose my mind or at least my keys. Oh, wait! I did! But that comes later on in the story.)

Instead, let me tell you the next thing that happened. In between talking about medication and personality and genetic pre-disposition with cute dad, another mom sat down. I looked at her face. If Ellen Degeneres were Indian, this short-haired, brown-skinned soul would be her. I just loved her spirit. And, turns out, I knew her!

PJ!” I said, shaking her hand in greeting.

“Andrea!” she said, shaking it back in unabashed delight.

The one-word greeting spoke volumes about our reunited connection. It seemed to triumphantly whisper, “Yay! We can talk for thirty minutes and have an adult conversation while our kids try not to bash each other’s brains in with tennis balls!”

Except this unspoken thought didn’t stay in our brains. It bled right out of our mouths all over the gum encrusted park bench. Within moments we both blurted out how happy we were to see each other again. Which, well, was a bit odd, given we had only met once before… two months ago… but we remembered each other for whatever reason. (Well, okay, the reason was that in a few minutes I completely analyzed her personality, her wife’s role in parenting, the disposition of her kids and why she likes her job. She thought I was a bleepin’ psychic. I was sad to report that I was just a wacky writer. But somehow I didn’t scare her off.)

Um…can you see men doing that on the football field? “Oh, Jerry, it’s so awesome to see you again. You know, the moment I heard you turn over that motor in your rotary engine, I knew we’d be fast friends. Let me read your palm and afterwards let’s make bmf bracelets!”

Well, silly or not, there it was…this bond between PJ and I that I can’t explain. And there was this bond between this dad and I that I am grateful for, too… two parents of two kids that require a bit more attention than “Suck down these Pop Tarts for dinner, we’re just done with cooking tonight.”

Let me now go on record that, as a Christian woman who has been married for 15 years, it might seem odd that a straight wife like me finds connection between an Indian lesbian and a happily married Italian father, but it is what it is.

Note to my Christian readers, Mom and Farmer Stacey: Do not be alarmed. I’m not starting an emotional affair with my Bollywood princess or blue-eyed auto immune cute dad friend. But I cannot lie. I find them both fabulous spirits and I’d be kidding you, and my very own self, if I didn’t admit that signing my kid up for tennis was the greatest lift to my spirits this month since Costco’s sale on dark Starbuck’s coffee ($15.95/bag – a deal!). When I start shaving my head or wearing a mini-skirt with a tight John Mackenro tee over my Double D’s, you can call out the Jesus squad.)

To add more cherries to the topping of this fun park bench banter (think of me as the peanut butter in between two slices of wonderful, talkative bread) we found out that PJ knows my sister through their kids’ middle school. Fun!

And then I lost my keys.

Boo.

But I didn’t freak out.

Yay!

Because what would be the point? The day up until that moment had been so crazy. (Wonky news from a writing client. No Ebay sales. Wondering if perhaps I should just throw in the towel and get a real job after all or run away with the circus and sell GMO infested popcorn to parents who have more money to entertain their kids than I do these days.)

But Stink made me sit on a parking slab and pray. Which I did. Which was no small feat for this six foot 1 mama.

“Jesus isn’t a magic genie,” I told him, adjusting my 2-foot wide butt to the diameter of the six inch cement chair.

“I know,” he said. “But He’s a miracle maker.”

Which, well, turns out He was. I did not find the keys right away. But I did stay calm which helped me retain my sanity. Each step I took I just remembered that I’m not in charge. I’d figure it out.

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Since my own phone was dead, I used the tennis instructor’s phone. (Old old phone… crack in the glass… thank God… a fellow tribe member of the ‘We’re Doing the Best We Can Club’.)

I called every person on his roster. “Did you take my keys by accident?”

“No… good luck…” was all I got.

So I called my husband.

And he showed up….

…At the exact same time as cute dad who pulled up in his car, keys dangling from his finger. “I took them with mine by accident!” he said.

So then I came home and ate a beet salad that my sweet husband (and even cuter) had made. And we talked about my work options and his business. And how sometimes, even if things don’t go the way we want them to, they go where they need to go. And that’s the kind of peace that makes all the nuttiness worth it.

If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

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Until next time, remember to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

More of my writing can be found at AndreaFrazerWrites, on Facebook at Happily Ticked Off or on Twitter @AndreaFrazerWrites. 

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7th Grade and Dropping the Rock

So Stink started school last week. The four-month summer finally ended and he couldn’t be happier about it. Great classmates, great subjects, great elective. He’s learning music! Maybe I can finally stop whining about his hair and he can be in a band. God works out all for good for those who love him, right? And his own son had long hair, so I need to just shut my pie hole apparently. (Though, really, Jesus would not be allowed on a public school campus with those open toed shoes he was so fond of wearing. That crazy Christ. He was such a rebel.)

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For those of you who have read my blog from the beginning, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m only neurotic as hell 25% of the time rather than 99% of the time. This is no small feat. If I can find peace, then you can, too. For me, eight years into this crazy journey called Tourette Syndrome, I’ve gotten to the point where the tics are what they are. I don’t love them (vocals still pretty consistent) and his focus is abysmal (I am sooooo sick of reminding him of a zillion things) but the boy is happy. If he’s happy, I have to be happy, too.

The truth is, even if I wasn’t loving life, I wouldn’t have time to complain about it. With a third book rewrite, a few new writing clients, some Ebay on the side to fill in the gap and parenting… I don’t have time to think about my problems. Which, well, aren’t problems. Issues with his tics are my perception, not the reality. The reality is that he continues to be happy with himself so gosh darnit I must be as well.

But, if I’m being honest, it still hurts sometimes. This evening, for example, a neighbor’s kid mentioned to me that a student in his class has the same case as Stink. “Oh, you mean he has T.S.?” I asked him. “Yes,” he responded. “And he is also in his own world a lot… just like Stink.”

Ka-plunk. 

Ouch.

What does that even mean? That my son is alone a lot at school? That he forgets a lot? That he is day dreaming and considered weird and strange and odd and eccentric and okay going too far, Andrea, STOP.

The old Andrea would have had a panic attack right there on the porch, called ten friends, sobbed to my mom, screamed at my husband for not supporting me on a diet that would absolutely eradicate tics thereby catapulting him to the top of the seventh grade social structure and then passed out on a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and a bucket of Trader Joe ho ho’s. .

This new Andrea. This sober thinking Andrea? I just let it go. Deep breath. Quick prayer. “God, take it.” As my sponsor is so fond of telling me, “Drop the rock, Andrea. It doesn’t matter. What matters is life on life’s terms.”

So, friends, with the goal to live life on life’s terms, here’s where I’m at.

  • I am not picking up burdens that aren’t mine.
  • When I do pick up burdens that hurt me, I will talk about them, but attempt to set them back down where they belong.
  • I will always run my burdens before other people who know more than I do when I’m feeling exhausted. Like tonight.
  • I will continue to give my problems to God who, apparently, doesn’t need my help. (What the hell is His problem? Does He not know how smart I am and if He just did as I said the world would work so. Much. Better?)
  • I will continue to learn more about this Jesus dude. (I don’t really get him. I just don’t. Who is He? Did he really die for me? If so, why don’t I feel it more?)
  • I will get back to taking care of me a bit more. (If I miss my personal writing so much, why don’t I blog more? Time to start that again.)
  • I will continue to look at the fine line between being of service (truly my key to contentment these days) and self-care.
  • I will continue to live in gratitude, because really, that calms me down. And a calm mom is such a better mom. At least for me, anyway.

I don’t know a lot. But I do know that I am so in love with my children. They are growing so fast. In six years Stink will be out of high school. I DO want to minimize his tics as much as possible through diet or medication, but I don’t want this to be my sole purpose anymore. My sole purpose is to love the hell out of him. He is what matters.

It is time to drop the rock.

But sometimes, when that rock lands on your foot, it hurts.

And, well, that’s where I am at tonight.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I wear steel toed boots and start over.

And you can, too.

Love you and miss you all.