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ScholasTIC – Are You Comfortable With Your Kid’s Teacher?

teacher

I’m not sure about your children’s education situation, but my kids go to a charter school. For some people, sending their child to public school is akin to throwing them out on the street with nothing but a can of Yahoo and a comic book. For me, it’s heaven.

Their peer group, and teachers, have more skin colors than Joseph’s amazing technicolor coat. There are at least 20 moms and dads I can call last-minute if I’m running late for pickup. One mom, who reads this column, met me at 830 this morning to give me a few bottles of GABA that her daughter wasn’t using. “I read your blog,” she wrote me last week, “I have some extra if you want it.” Doesn’t get better than that. (Thank you, friend! You know who you are!)

Our school isn’t perfect. If Tuskany were a blogger (which she isn’t because she actually has a strong sense of boundaries and privacy, unlike some people she knows… ahem) she’d tell you many stories about my freak outs. “Some kids are ganging up on Stink at the play ball courts!… This one teacher thinks Tourettes is spelled Tooretts and is the reason Stink is into fart jokes!”

Yup, some of the kids over the years have been rough around the edges. And some of the teachers weren’t what I’d call Mary Poppins perfect, nor insightful. But isn’t that what school is about? To learn how to accept differences, stand up for oneself when things aren’t fair, fail, grow, rinse and repeat?

Lest I sound like St. Andrea, Patron of the Los Angeles School system, I didn’t always feel this way. Sure, I wanted my baby kinder to go there, but in all truth, I was terrified. On his first day of school, I introduced myself to a man with long hair, striped socks and George Michael shorts. I thought he was an eccentric big brother. “Hi, I’m a new mom, Mrs. Frazer,” I said, giving him my hand. He shook it with exuberance, smiled and declared, “I’m one of the assistant teachers… Chachi!” I almost passed out.

Stink’s new school was very developmental. It used buzzed words like “engaging the student” and “peaceful learning circles.” Some people might think, “Whole Child! Montessori style nirvana!” I’m an ex-Catholic school girl. My thoughts ran more along the lines of, “Tree huggers! Unicorns! Ruuun!”

Before you judge, Stink was my first to go to school, and I had a big diagnosis in my pocket. For some people, a few tics and a T.S. label wouldn’t sound so daunting. But for me? It produced nausea-inducing fear. “What if he got worse? What if other kids noticed? And worse, what if he was made fun of?” I ruminated.

In retrospect, I made myself crazier than I needed to be. While it’s normal to have concerns, I didn’t put mine to rest easily. If only I had someone to guide me… to tell me that it would be okay. I wish I knew that even if he ticked to the point of cursing (my biggest worry) he’d still be okay. Why? Because who Stink is, not what he does, is what counts.

Little by little, I began to cut the cord. I started being less concerned with who I wanted Stink to be. I started truly enjoying who he was. So what if he’s not into sports. So what if he has a hair-do resembling a bed-headed Beetle. So what if he still likes Pokemon while other kids are into baseball cards. It really doesn’t matter one bit what other children are doing. What matters is what my kid is doing. And best of all, he’s happy and content.

He’s not the only one. If I was ever not sure about my big leap of faith into the chasm of the L.A. charter school, yesterday’s letter from his teacher sealed the deal.

I had written to her about Stink’s tics which, well, are still pretty intense. I had told her that I didn’t want her to be afraid of bringing the situation up to me. After all, as much as my son deserves to make a few sounds and twitches, other kids deserve to learn. If it becomes disruptive, I’d be open to accommodations.

After a brief note back from her, reassuring me that no one is bugged by his tics (minus one kid who goes into the office sometimes for solitude), I wrote back. I thanked her, as well as informed her that I knew Stink was in good hands. I told her I wouldn’t harp on the tics anymore and asked, instead, if she would keep me abreast of his focus issues.

This is what I got back – everything verbatim but the names.

Hi Andrea,

Please don’t feel as though we can’t talk about Stink’s tics. I have no concerns about you worrying about his tics, and how it may impact his learning in the classroom! That’s like me blaming you for being a caring mother! So, talk to me about his tics anytime, and I will inform you if it gets to be too much for the other kids. They know to accept him, and treat him with compassion and respect. No one in class talks about Stink in a negative light; I will not tolerate that.

I think as long as he makes a conscientious effort to stay focused, he can do it. By the way, I reviewed his essay with him today, and gave him a few recommendations…like transition sentences between paragraphs, topic sentences for each paragraph (that are not, “I’m going to talk about…), expanding his ideas, etc. I’m not sure he will revise independently, tomorrow or not. I think that he is under the impression that he is done. Maybe once he types it up, he can take it home and have you look it over with him.

My Best,
The Most Amazing Teacher on the Planet

You’re doing great, Andrea.

Take-away

Find a school with teachers like this. It can make all the difference in your kid’s journey. It can also keep you from running off with a Highlander and drinking a vat of Two Buck Chuck.

Leave a Comment

Tics or not, where does your child go to school? What makes you love it and why? What makes you not love it and why? Would really love to hear.

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I Could Be Ticked Off, But I’m Too Bleepin’ Excited

kids start school

Greetings from Happily Ticked Off. Remember me? That once faithful blogger who helped you navigate through the highs and lows of tics? The person who gave you all sorts of encouragement when you felt worse than a nit in your kid’s hair after a session with the lice lady?

Side note: Do any of you non-L.A./New York readers have this service? A real, live nit-picker who will comb baby lice out of your kid’s hair one painstaking strand at a time? Yes, even with much of our world in dire poverty, I say without apologies that I blew $400 bucks a few years back to deal with what I can only refer to as the Lice Infestation of 2010. It’s chronicled in this article, “Of Lice and Men.”

SUMMER

Did you all have a good summer? I, personally, did not. Mine consisted of this:

* Commute 1 and a half hours each way for a writing gig that kept promising insurance but didn’t give it

* Schedule kids for play dates and camp dates around my husband’s work schedule – that schedule being his very own I.T. company start up which, of course, does not pay insurance, but we have a dream, people! Dental, schemntal, insurance. Who needs teeth! I’ll start on my smoothie regime, lose weight, save money on the gym, and buy health insurance!

* Ebay on the side to make $29/month to put toward elusive insurance, only to inevitably spend it by the end of the month because I can’t take cooking, cleaning and kid wrangling ONE.MORE.SECOND. so I give my hard earned income to El Pollo Loco, Taco Bell or some other fast food joint that is not full of gluten but inevitably causes me to worry that I’m going to make my kids die an early death from their GMO-laden, toxic, hormone pumped chicken/cows, not to mention increase tics because, you know, I’m going to cure this whole syndrome with food alone.

* Have a few people close to me be less close to me because I’ve been so busy working my patience resembles a burned out elecrical chord on a dried out Christmas tree and, well, apparently I’m not as much fun to be around when I’m on four hours of sleep, six cups of coffee, and enough Oreo cookies to make Santa vomit. 

After 8 weeks of this insanity routine, my kids started school.

Normally I cry.

This year, it was all I could do to numbly kiss them goodbye at the classroom door. On one hand, it saved me the agony of worrying about my sixth (yes, SIXTH) grade boy’s tics increasing. I was too tired to freak out. “He’s a strong kid,” I told myself, and I meant it. “If he’s fine, then stop.” Work, with all it’s zillion tasks and responsibilities, simply didn’t allow for excess rumination. It was fall down and die of fear, or keep moving. I chose the latter.

On the other hand, numbness and stone cold resolve was a real sign for me that in running such a rapid pace I was not only outrunning grief, I was outrunning joy.

When was the last time I sat with my kids and read a book?

When was the last time I had coffee with my mom at the mall?

When was the last time I sat in my room, organized my photos, and just laughed at some of my family and friends’ ridiculous hair-do’s, not to mention my own?

While I can’t say I didn’t do any of those things mentioned above, I wasn’t as present as I’d like to be.

But today, after almost 10 months of marathon training, I was given my walking papers at work. (Well, not 100% true. My job was reduced to 75% of its original description. Which means 75% less pay.)

Fear? Anxiety? A wee bit. But truthfully, not that much. I truly feel God has a plan for me. Despite a whole lot of uncertainty ahead, joy and hope is bubbling up to the surface.

I’ll get to be present.

Present on my site.

Present in my home.

Present in my community.

And people, that is SUCH a gift.

I’ve missed you.

Andrea

(Pic of Stink, Pip and Miss L, starting 6th and 5th)

Wait, there’s more!

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

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Blog Hop – Why I Write!

I bring this long fast to an end to talk about something dear to my heart. No, not tics! Writing!

Not only did I just finish a second rewrite of my book where it’s actually being considered by some pretty decent agencies (Squeeeeeel!) but a lovely writer named Lorraine Devon Wilke asked me to participate in her Blog Hop.

What is this Blog Hop, you ask?

A Blog Hop is where a writer refers her followers back to other fabulous voices in the online community. I’m a big fan of supporting other writers, especially women, so I said ‘Yes’ to the opportunity to play.

To start with, let me give some love back to Lorraine!

lorraineLorraine Devon Wilke is a creative hyphenate currently enjoying her three-ring circus of writing, photography, and music. She’s a longtime HuffingtonPost contributor, a successful screenwriter, and a widely published essayist; she curates her fine art photography site, as well as her personal blog at Rock+Paper+Music, and her original CD, Somewhere On the Way, can be found at CDBaby.com andITunes. But her latest “big adventure” is the launch of her first novel, After the Sucker PunchatAmazon…stop in for a copy! Check www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for links and information, www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com for updates and links for her book, and stop by her blog at www.rockpapermusic.com for her own answers to these questions! 

Secondly, here are a few questions I was asked to answer. I will ask the same of two other writers I bring into this. Check back Tuesday or Wednesday as I add them!

1.What am I working on?

Writing full time for a faith website

Currently I’m writing full time for the faith website, Believe.com. This means spear-heading campaigns such as “I’m a Believer,” featuring such up and coming voices as Leanne Penny, Doreen Lecheler and Michelle Wulfestieg. I also get to feature old friends and equally talented voices such as Gretchen Hanna.

I have contributed over 50 articles since December, including movie reviews for Noah, Son of God, Heaven is for Real and more. I have the pleasure of interviewing big faith writers, too, like Ted Dekker. (You can see my bio at the top of this link. The articles are underneath it.)

While I don’t mind the movie and book reviews, I’m most proud of the blog I write which features a transparent look into my journey of faith.

Why be so open online? Am I that needy?

Yes. I’m needy for connection. And so are a lot of people. Life is too short to go about it alone. Writing gives me the wonderful opportunity to look fear in the eye and say, “Buzz off. You don’t scare me. I got peeps around the world going to emotional bat for me. And guess what? I’m doing the same for them. Plus, by writing about faith, I have people PRAYING for me now, too. Look out!”)

Some people wouldn’t “air their dirty laundry” for the whole world to see, but I don’t look at my personal writing this way. I also don’t buy that to be a person of faith we must not have challenges. No, I don’t believe we have to be perfect to find Jesus.I believe Jesus wants us to come to Him as we are, because He is perfect. That is the gospel. That is the redemption. When we can get real with our very ugly warts and scars, we can rise into the people we are meant to be in our souls.

Want to see those blogs? They are located in the parent section at the right side bar!  It’s called “Fundamentally Imperfect.” I wanted the title”Jesus on the Couch and other Tales of Christian Therapy” but hey, life ain’t perfect. This leads me to question #2.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

My writing is a bit different than what many people expect Christian writing to be. There is a misconception Christians are the epitome of hypocrisy – shiny on the outside, rotting on the inside. Me? I make no bones about it. I’m a rotten sinner. What do I mean by that? Sin is simply being separated from God. Every day I have to fight my natural instinct to do what I want to do. I don’t get to run off with Hugh Jackman and smoke doobage at Disneyland while singing Sesame Street. Instead, I have to be a responsible human being. Christianity gives me permission to know I’m not alone. That someone else out there loves me enough that I don’t have to be perfect.

Do I 100% believe everything in my faith? No. I don’t. I admit it. If being open and honest about some of the things I’m not sure about makes me a wishy washy Christian, then I guess I am. But, like a kid, I didn’t know everything about what it meant to be an adult, but I trusted my dad. Jesus is my Father now, and I can moan and complain all I want, but I feel safer, more creative and stronger under His guidance than I do without Him, so I journey on.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because I got lucky enough to have someone find me on Linked In right when my husband lost his job. Some big company actually wanted to pay me to talk to writers all day, interview production folk, and write about my faith journey. So I said yes!

I also write because in writing there is connection. I am not afraid to be vulnerable, because in being so, I let others know they don’t have to be perfect. Then they tell me their war stories and together we trudge toward our happy destiny of peace together.

4) How does my writing process work?

I write every day without exception. Mostly I write because I’m on deadline, but when I am writing for myself, I set a time and do it. Example: My second rewrite was due May 1. I’m working full time. I have kids I pick up from school at 3. This means I’m up at 5am to be on the road by 6. Lest I sound like  martyr, I’m grateful to God to have this job. But my job is not as exciting to me as my book. It just isn’t.

And so, with that in mind, I wrote an hour/day from 6am – 7 for a month straight. I came home and did an additional 2 hours of paid work later. I knew, in my gut, that THIS WAS THE TIME to finish this book. I know my job won’t last forever. I want to have something I love in the depth of my soul to carry me into my next experience. I think it’s this book, but if I’m wrong, I’ll never regret writing it. I’ll self-publish if it’s not picked up by a traditional publication!

Any questions?

Does anyone have any questions? I’m not often asked about my writing or my faith on this site. I am your tic mama and I love that. But I also know that if it weren’t for my writing, I’d be much more stressed about tics which, for the record, are a bit better today! (Though my sweet boy DID have a new tic which kind of scared me. Check back Wed for more info.)

And come back tomorrow to see a few new writers I’m going to add to this Blog Hop!

Love,

Andrea

 

 

Tics, Tourettes

Tics, Faith and Believe.com

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Are you thankful for tics this Thanksgiving season? You’re not? When my son was first diagnosed, I wasn’t either. But today, from a place of experience and growth, I am happy for the character building that has come from this crazy ride.

“How is that possible?” You might ask, before reaching through the computer and throttling me with frayed nerves shot from hearing thirty minutes of throat clears on the way to morning drop off. “I’m terrified my kid is going to be made fun of. Or worse, that this condition will be harder for him than it is for me!”

I get it. I really do. And all I can offer is my own experience, which is this: Six years later, my son is totally fine. Yes, he still tics (last night his vocals were driving me a bit nutty… low gulps and clucks) but he completely embraces with who he is – not a kid with Tourettes, but a kid who creates video games, loves his sister, rocks math class, has a gaggle of geeky computer boys at our house every Friday night and, oh yeah, he tics. It’s a microcosm of who he is in the grand picture.

Yes, people ask him about his tics sometimes. And he always gives them the same answer: “Jesus made me this way.”

I never saw myself as a religious person, but from the vantage point of time, I realize just how much my faith has meant to me and how much it’s shaped my son’s worldview of himself.

I really came to believe that our God is the same yesterday, today and in the future. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

If this is true, then God does not make mistakes. Which means my son’s T.S. was not an error in the production line of human creation. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.…” Psalm 139:13

Oh, yes, does Stink know it.

Which leads me once again back to me. How do I know God’s plan for my life? And how does this relate to Tourette Syndrome?

I know not because someone thumped me on the head with a Bible or dragged me to church. I know not because someone drowned me in holy water and made me accept the Lord to live.

I know from hitting rock bottom in my marriage and my parenting.  It was only when I took a chance that maybe, just maybe, there was something outside of my own spinning brain that was guiding my steps, that I started to heal.

It took a while, but God was patient. Turns out I didn’t have to understand it all at once. I only had to have a little bit of faith.

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20

Ironically, that passage comes from a section in the Bible where Jesus heals a boy with a demon. I have often wondered if perhaps this child did not have “evil spirits” in him but just a bad case of tics that people didn’t understand. I wish I could have been there to hug that boy’s mother and father and let them know that, “Hey, you are not alone. I get it.” (But hey, they got the Big Guy himself. They didn’t need me!)

But it’s you likely do. I definitely do. We all need each other to support and encourage us along this journey. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20

As I begin my new job as the female voice for Believe.com, I am looking forward to sharing my faith as it relates to marriage, parenting and Tourettes. I hope you’ll visit me over there so we can all grow together. (Link to my column when it’s live in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I’m open to a lot of suggestions. I’m looking to make the content more personal, edgy and conversational, like my BabyCenter and Good Housekeeping days, except instead of talking sex and diapers we’ll be talking tics, marriage and Jesus. And who am I kidding – you know I’ll slip in some sex talk anyway. I have just discovered this Christian blogger, and wow, is she good.)

Note: Believe.com is a Christian website, but for those of you who are not Christian, you are welcome also! I’d love to learn more about your background. And of course, I’ll always write here at Happily Ticked Off – because you readers are my first love.

Until next time, hug that ticker of yours today.

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