parenting, writing

Repeat After Me: It’s Not About You. Good. Just Do That 1000000 More Times

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One of my kids didn’t get something they really wanted. They worked super hard for it but no, they still didn’t get it. It stung. Not just for them, but for me. Of course, since it wasn’t about me, I didn’t have the luxury of acting irritated or devastated or outraged. I just go to shake my head, say “Oh, I’m so sorry” and listen.

(I could have gone Operation Varsity Blues on their butt, but I had already blogged about how I’m so much better than that. I can’t be a hypocrite now, can I?)

The good news in the above paragraph, at least regarding my own experience, is that I’ve grown so much. Even a year ago I’d have been aghast at the results, dramatically trying to pump the kid full of encouragement and wisdom that, in the end, would have done nothing to ease the teen’s pain and instead only serve my own wounded pride at the rejection which, as I type this, makes no sense. My child is not me. It’s natural to feel bummed out for my kid. It’s quite another to personalize it. After all, in doing so, I’m not giving my kid time to grieve for themselves. Maybe they’ll be over it in a day. Maybe not for a month. At the time my kid found out about the results, I had no idea what they would need. But one thing they didn’t need was their hypersensitive mother swooping in on their grief, creating confusion. (A year ago it might have ended with my kid comforting me.)

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(um, sorry, I did.)

The issue with this reaction would have had the effect of having my kid feel less safe to tell me what is going on in their lives for fear of eliciting a nutty response.

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Maybe you don’t suffer with this kind of attachment to your child’s outcomes.

Maybe you are the kind of parent that can easily let go.

I DO let go. Oon the outside.

But on the inside, it still hurts. It speaks to old wounds in me. It tugs at the child who was never picked for the lead in the play or for the sports team.

But… and this is the big takeaway: It’s NEVER my child’s job to suffer my hurts.

And in the case of my kid, they were over it the next morning. (This mama might take a few more weeks to process it… but I acknowledge that… and am calling the fact that I was able to sit with my kid for a good hour and help THEM process it a big win.)

Now if I can just get through the next week of work, burying a family member, signing up both kids for college courses, get my printer to work and put away two weeks worth of laundry we’ll be golden.

Not that it’s your issue ever, dear reader, to worry about this crazed blogger’s dumb schedule. But a prayer? That wouldn’t hurt. And Tuskany, you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be swinging by your place again this week. You saved me last Wednesday.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #29: It can be hard to let your kid feel disappointment, but let them feel it anyway. Just listen and don’t make it about you. (Oh, that last part. It’s not easy. We all have our hurts, don’t we? Oh, you are perfectly balanced? #LuckyYouIDon’tBelieveYou)

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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writing

The Terrible Poem Contest: I’m In!

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Many of you know that I’m writing a poem/day Shel Silverstein style for every day that I substitute teach. This means that at the end of the year I will have 100 poems.

All rhymes are all being written from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy who comes from a divorced family. He goes back and forth between his parents. Some of the poems are a bit more reflective, while others are of the goofy, gross and silly variety.

I suppose this is why I decided to throw my hat in the ring of this blogger’s poetry contest. The theme is “Under the Table” and should be a truly horrific poem. Here’s my shot.

Under the Table

My friends are all camping

But alas I’m not able

Nope, I’m grounded for life

Right here under the table

A butter knife for a friend

Along with a rag

To scrape all my boogers

Into this trash bag

Yup, what once was my haven

For picking my nose

My mom did discover

So now I am hosed

“You won’t move from this spot

Except to go pee

Until all chunks are removed

Do you understand me?”

What could I say?

My answer was “Yes”

Now there’s no more snot digging

What?  YES I’m depressed

The moral of this tale

From under the table?

Stay away from nose picking

To avoid this sad fable

The end

Happily Ticked Off Tip #28: Enter contests that represent your passion. You never know if you will win!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education

Children and Art: Go Figure

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Teaching art for 200 middle schoolers per day has had a profound impact on my soul.

Today a small boy who looks like Huck Finn meets The Goonies told me, “You’re so awesome, Ms. Frizzle!”

A seventh grade girl who is often found hiding behind her Ipod and anime drawings of genderal neutral dwarfs poked her head out from behind her hoody and whispered, “I can talk to you more than any other teacher.”

Another kid left this on my desk.

 

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Two out of three ain’t bad.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #27: Kids will be kids. And apparently, in middle school, they know how to make kids. Be glad when they’re messing with model figures and not each other. 

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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Coaching and Wellness, meditation, self improvement, spirituality

Pain Sucks. But There’s Another Side

I used to hide my pain behind talking about people, putting myself down or drinking too much wine.

These days, I face it, I grieve and I move on. It’s so much easier. It’s so much easier, in fact, I don’t often feel pain.

No pain? How is that possible? 

For me, the answer is acceptance. Always acceptance. I don’t have to like a situation, but when I accept it, I surrender. Like in a battle, I put down my guns of defiance and anger. They weren’t protecting me anyway. If anything, they were protecting me from the other side. That “other side” being you… my fellow fighter… who seems so scary and more together than me but… when you put down your gun, too… you are just like me. A human being who suffers.

Death and Darkness

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There’s been a lot of darkness in my family lately. People dying. People ill. People sad. My immediate family, thank God, is okay. But I can’t pretend like the people around me are. That they aren’t truly hurting. It’s not easy because  I can’t take it away from them. If anything, I can only share my story if they want to hear it. Maybe they will surrender like I did to find peace. Maybe they won’t. But it’s not up to me to holler my ideas at them.  (Have you tried screaming over gunfire? It doesn’t work and you are taking the risk of best case going deaf, worse case getting maimed or killed.)

What is the Point of Pain?

Everyone has different beliefs on this. As a Christian, it makes sense to me that this Jesus character was kind of a bad ass, because he felt pain just like you and I do, but he rose above it. He left his spirit in us so we, too, could rise above it. Jesus didn’t want to face death. But in surrendering to it, God was with him during his dark times.

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To me, this is comforting. And it helps me realize that the pain of my past wasn’t in vain. I can use to help others find hope. This is good news – literally – because it means the suffering has meaning. It means I can endure the dark again because there is always light in helping others later.

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If you are going through a dark time right now, I’m sorry. I won’t preach at you. I won’t tell you to believe what I do. I won’t suggest you try some certain medication or organic llama bone crushed inside an essential oil that will make you both joyful and anchored. But I will tell you that I have been there, I got through it, and you will also.

My Greatest Teacher

I might be a teacher now by trade, but Pain will always go down as my best Professor. When I surrendered and embraced it, it taught me that I could be bitter or trust that something bigger was coming down the pike. And for me, friends, that something better is my fellows. A hand out to a new student. A compliment to the old dude handing out samples of Fig Newtons in Costco. A smile at the school secretary who deals with one million requests from hormonal middle schoolers/day.

In closing, I can pass on hope to you because someone passed it on to me. I lost… but in losing, I rose to be a better person. Pain didn’t win.

Coffee on the other hand? That wins every time.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #26: When we don’t run from pain but choose to welcome it as our greatest teacher, not only will we transform but we can use it help others transform from dark to light also. 

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, faith, parenting, Uncategorized

College Admissions: Some Parents’ Guilty Pleasure

Most of you have probably heard about the bribery to college admissions that’s got people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin facing prison time. I’m already waiting for the Shameless and Fuller House Memes to surface.

Oh wait, here’s one!

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On one hand, my stomach dropped when I heard the news. It’s so unfair to the kids who really do work their butts off to get into these top schools.

On the other hand, I don’t really care. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t buy into the whole college application freak out thing. The truth: My son is a Sophomore and we have not researched one school (though we said we would). I don’t know how or where he’ll take an SAT and I’m not overly worried about him getting a coach for it. We’ll start researching in a few months, look at JC’s and go from there. I have enough faith in my kid to know he’ll land somewhere! (Mom brag: He went from not amazing grades last year to straight A’s, 1 B+ and he’s taking Japanese this summer. This GPA did not happen with me bugging him. I literally have zero idea what he’s learning in school. The hard work was last year when, after letting him fail, I made him meet with me every day at 4PM to go over his organization. I knew it would be a pain for me, but it would ultimately put him in the driver’s seat. These same tools are what will get him on the road to college one way or another.) So, back to that:

Why Don’t I Care About College – And a Caveat

I want my kids to do the best they can with their lives. But I’ve seen enough A-Personality neurotic kids to know that if a kid doesn’t learn to appreciate the success of who they are, no school is going to make a difference. They will just get there, not be happy, and anxiously climb up to the next thing. And then they’ll graduate and anxiously work toward a job, and then a promotion, and then a mate, and kids, all the while not really knowing why they are striving so hard.

No, that’s not what life is about. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe the best thing I can do is guide them toward their path and let them be self-confident people who are content with what is, not what is not.

Don’t You Care At All, Andrea?

Of course I care. Ask Tuskany. I stress about my decision to let go. But in the end, I will always choose to let go. I do so, sometimes with fists clenched onto the last bit of rope, because I’m raising them to be adults that make their own decisions, not little puppets I write checks for to look good for the world. (Look where that landed the culprits in this latest scandal?)

I feel so strongly about this topic because I was that go get ’em kid. I got the straight A’s. The college. The TV job. The house. The marriage. The kids. My outsides were great. But inside I was a wreck. It wasn’t until I broke down the construct of what I thought I needed to be happy that I was able to be, truly, happy.

Tonight I’m going to go downstairs and eat some soup. I’m going to remind my son to get off the video games. I’m going to compliment my daughter for all the auditions she went on. She’ll tell me about the groups she landed, the ones she did not. And then we’ll go to bed. Life these days is busy busy busy… but it’s simple. It comes down to, “Are who you are in your soul enough?” When the answer is yes – and it always is – there isn’t a thing to worry about.

Zero fucks given. It’s a model for livin’.

(Hey, I think I just wrote a country song! Maybe I can make a million dollars and bribe Harvard to take my kids!)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #25: When we teach our kids that who they are is more important than where they go to college, we are giving them the best education they can get: To be learn to be happy with what they have, not what they do not.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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self improvement

Asking Questions. It’s My New Form of Talking

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This just in: I am talking less and asking more questions.

I’ll just let that sink in and get back to you tomorrow.

Until then, I’d love to ask you a question – and be honest: Do you listen to truly listen, or are you computing info to best formulate a comeback that proves your side of the street?

Leave a comment and we’ll talk tomorrow!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #24: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When I remember that, life goes along just fine!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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faith, spirituality, writing

When I Don’t Meditate… It’s Not Pretty

My daughter, son and their bestie, Miss L, are downstairs doing a second load of dishes. They are singing Dear Evan Hansen’s Sincerely Me at the top of their lungs. To quote the mom from that show, and the title of the first song,  “Does Anybody Have a Map… Can Anyone Tell How the Hell to Do This?,” it was just one of those days.

Saturday Madness

I woke up at 7 to get Evie to a dance audition by 8.

I slept in the car for an hour… I mean slept like the dead.

I came home and attempted to sleep there, too, but the sheets smelled like dog and ass. The bathroom needed a washing. It just felt… icky. I would love to be that person that says, “Oh, well, the cleaning can wait. Let’s just enjoy life.” But with laundry, dishes and no food in the house, I knew getting into action was the best course of action.

And at first had no regrets about that. My bathroom looked good and smelled less like a truck stop.

But add in grocery shopping, taking the kids to a play production tonight, plus concern about how to get Stink’s broken bracket fixed on Monday since I’m working and can’t make it on time and oh, yeah, he needs to sign up for college level Japanese because no he doesn’t want to take Spanish or French which is already offered at his high school and, um, I picked up a few regrets by 6PM.

I got really snippy with my kids. Note: I didn’t scream, but when I get controlling and nitpicky and nothing my husband says or does is helpful, I know that it’s not my outsides that need to change. It’s my insides. And that can only happen with a re-set.

And, well, that’s not going to happen tomorrow.

We have family coming in from Chicago in the morning.

Phia has a vocal lesson at 12.

Later, Rex and I need to swing by his mom’s house on the way to our communication class to fix a broken toilet and deal with an unexpected family death.

Lest I sound like a martyr, or one of those “My kids do too much it’s my own fault for not saying ‘No’ kind of person” I will state life is not normally driven at such a breakneck speed around here. (Nope, when it’s slow and we just hang out I instead get to battle “My kids aren’t doing the extra curricular activities others are doing the am not doing enough…”  And hey, that’s fear based/crap thinking!  I know it’s a lie but days like today take more energy to combat i. And no, 5 cups of coffee/day doesn’t help. Who knew? 😝

March just happens to be the season for my daughter’s school’s dramatic art activities. Broken braces happen. So does death. This crunch time will pass.

The only reason I was less able to deal with it at 630 tonight… when dinner wasn’t made… when the kids found Minecraft more important than the trash and dishes… when Rex was watching TV and I had groceries to unpack… was because I did not meditate this morning.

Me When I Don’t Meditate

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I did not take time to say, “God, this day is yours. Direct my thinking.” When I do that, I can be like the tree that bends and sways in the wind and doesn’t break. When I don’t, branches fly. Leaves fall. And someone’s dashboard usually gets crunched when I ultimately fall through the windshield.

Lucky for me, this no meditating deal is an exception. Because it’s a daily practice, I had some reserve in my tank. (Translation: I was bitchy, not psychotic) But a few more days of not filling up and I’ll be running on fumes. And the car will break. And then it will take more energy and money to repair. How much easier would it be just to do daily maintenance?)

And so, tomorrow, I will get up at 7 and have some alone time with God.

And then I will buy bagels and welcome my family to my table.

I will get into acceptance that this month just happens to be one of those hectic times in my immediate family, but I won’t complain. Because one day these kids won’t be here to drive around. The tub won’t need so much cleaning. To quote Dear Evan Hansen, I won’t always have this For Forever.

Happy weekend to you all. Here’s to a better report tomorrow!

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parenting, writing

The Best Advice I Forget to Take

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I am lucky that I am really close to my teenagers. Part of it is that we are huge people, so we are literally close.  (I’m not kidding. Stink is on his way to being 7 feet. We live in a 1950’s starter with low ceilings. We might have to move in a few years. To a yurt. Or a circus tent.)

The thing is that I’ve learned one powerful tool over the past few years. I mentioned it a while back, but it’s such a bootie saver that I’m repeating it. It goes like this:

#1 Parenting Tool to Save Your Relationship (And head from spinning off its axis like Linda Blair after smelling too much High School Axe)

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“Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?”

Then just follow their lead.

Even if you are dying to say something.

Even if you have to super glue your mouth. And then cover that with tape. And cut off your tongue. (Don’t do that last part. You’d never get to enjoy coffee again. That would suck.)

I am telling you, this parental response is like crack for an addict. It just calms everything down.

Still not sure? Think about it: When you’re upset, do you want someone just spouting off their opinion? No, you don’t. If they did, you’d want to punch them in the throat.

Or wash down a Chipolte plate with a large Diet Coke and silently resent them (and hate yourself for being such a wussy).

No, asking before breaking and entering a teenager’s vulnerable emotions is the best course. Every. Single. Time.

Which is why tonight I am typing this a bit defeated. Because not only do I not like listening to other people’s unwelcomed advice, I don’t even take my own.

Come to think about it, you’re not asking for my opinion either, readers! But you’re reading, so I will, unlike how I ever want a date to end with my teenagers, assume consent is implied. (Thanks to Tuskany’s lightning speed text “Is everything okay?” I will clarify the consent reference. It’s from watching One Day at a Time. Such a remarkable series that covers so many issues our teens face – sexual consent notwithstanding. My kids are fine… they are not into dating yet. Thank God.)

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Oh, man, being a parent is hard sometimes. Why couldn’t I just be a crystal gem, like my kids’ favorite show of late, and fight virtual demons while morphing with other dysfunctional beings to create life?

Actually, I think that last part is how I ended up with my kids in the first place.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #19:  When your teen is upset, try asking “Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?” It’s a game changer and keeps you a safe space for future conversation.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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faith, spirituality, writing

The One Spiritual Truth that Will Set You Free

 

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So much has happened this week, it’s become apparent that sometimes the only thing to do, in no particular order, includes:

  • Get up a wee bit earlier to meditate and not rush.
  • Find new places on the way to work to do one’s business.
  • Thank said gas station owner for use of facility. If it’s a Starbucks, be grateful you only deposited a piece of yourself and not an additional $5.00 on a drink that would only make you search yet again for a place to do one’s business.
  • Not overthink everything (Are you on time? Do you have a plan? Are you flexible? If so, let the overflowing art sink go for one more day.)
  • Buy a notepad and try to stay current with tasks.
  • Don’t look at the end result. Just put one foot in front of the other.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Get your nails done with your daughter.

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Today I did the Call to Offering at church. This basically meant I tell a bit of my story and ask for money. In the past I would be worried about such an event as this: What would people think? I’m so new! Am I being hypocritical? After all, I’m not exactly throwing down hundred dollar bills in the offering plate myself.

But when an unexpected death occurs – both in body (last week – someone from my hubby’s side) and in soul (my own over the past few years) you start to realize that true resurrection comes in dying to self and becoming the person God intended you to be, not the person you thought you were supposed to be.

Don Miguel Ruiz writes an amazing book about breaking the four contracts we unconsciously sign that set us up for a lifetime of suffering.

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The book is a one day read and has transformative nuggets of truth that have been life changing for me.

This book aside, dying to self can also often mean not having all the answers.

It means honoring myself where I can with rest (14 hours snooze Friday night? That’s me!)

It means stating some ground rules with love to not sink in exhaustion Hi School Secretary. I’d love it if for one week you don’t schedule me to cover other classes during my conference time. When she responds back with It’s because you’re a sub You gently stand your ground. I’m a long term sub through June. I’m really at less of an advantage than a teacher because I don’t have a real lesson plan yet. I truly need the time to prep. And then you smile, because this particular secretary is super nice and just doing her job.

And, to be a decent human, you add on, If you must schedule me, though, I get it. Just asking.

And then when you inevitably get the call to sub, you thank God you have a fancy Chulux (it’s the bastard child of a Keurig), brew a cup of java, and head out to the bungalow clear across campus.

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And you do this because at the bottom of all your hard earned faith is a cosmic nugget that you will share with said readers that will transform their frustration to acceptance. To put it bluntly, it’s the one spiritual truth that will set every single human on earth free.

Zero Fucks Given.

You’re welcome.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #18: Zero Fucks Given is an attitude that allows you to surrender to God’s will for your life. It’s like the red carpet for the spiritual set.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, parenting

This is the Greatest Show! (Of Anger and Resentment. Send in the Clowns, Baby!)

I thought I hit “publish” on this post yesterday. But after a less than stellar day dealing with a new job, a family death, being low on gas, being a speaker at a meeting with my husband and the realization that “Yes, I CAN do it all, just not all at once” I goofed up. Please enjoy a post where I out myself on being a less than perfect parent. #progressnotperfection.

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Yesterday…

Today I totally overreacted with one of my kids over something I had asked them to do the night before. (Not once, not twice, three times.)

My requests often feel like a stack of dishes on my counter. No matter how high they grow, they are not often met with “Let’s bolt out of our chairs and get right to that, Mom!”

But I had already danced the dance of “Am I nagging if I ask a fourth time? / When will they learn to be independent if I bug bug bug?” so I dropped it. Well, not quite. I also texted from work.

Crickets.

And the request still wasn’t done. I was irked when I finally saw my child and really raised my voice, throwing in a few examples of other things said child doesn’t do in a timely manner.

And then I huffed into the living room. And shock of all shock, my self indignation did NOT make me feel better.

After a bit I remembered that just a few hours earlier the dean had called my classroom regarding two kids who had escaped from my room and were found pounding on bathroom doors.

Um, is it possible I dumped on my kid because I felt dumped on?

Ding ding ding!

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Why do I always go back to the same well? I guess I need to keep getting hit with the same lesson until I change. It’s not unlike what I’m teaching being taught at school with my art students. Just like the classroom kids, I have every right to give my teen a consequence for not following up. But getting angry and surly? It does nothing.

What’s it about, Andrea?

It’s all about ME setting expectations, letting go and knowing that some things are just what they are – age appropriate defiance/immaturity/distraction. Doesn’t matter. It only matters how I perceive and react to it.

Bottom line: ITS ALL ABOUT ME! (Hey, I normally like that last part. Just not in these cases. You know… the ones where I need to give God my character defects and be willing to change to avoid pain.)

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Ten minutes later I had prayed, gotten quiet, saw my part and was ready to start fresh. This meant going back into the kitchen and apologizing for my outburst.

Which I did!

Only to be met with a slow, direct stare and be told, “Please come back in 20 minutes. I need time to decompress from my grrrr’.”

I wanted to pop the kid. But at the same time, this particular knows who themself, and said self means not deigning to dive my instant gratification/push push push/apology well of crazy. I had no choice but to respect it or head on over to the big clown tent for another show.

Now if I only I can learn this same lesson before my emotional explosions instead of afterwards. Constantly buying circus tickets is expensive.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #16: When I try to fix or criticize other people, there is always something disturbed in me. And that gets me mad. Because that means there is no one to blame but myself. #Stupid truth.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books