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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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Tourettes

Finding the Right School

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When Stink was first diagnosed with Tourettes, I was still holding onto hope that he would attend the Catholic school of my youth. He would play sports and go through the Sacraments and be just crafty enough to be adorable in his skinned knee navy shorts but obedient enough to get straight A’s on his report card be head altar server. It was an awesome dream and so much fun to fantasize about!

Then all the kids from his preschool got their acceptance letters into kindergarten. Stink did not.

Given I had no indication whatsoever from his preschool teachers that he would not do well at the private gradeschool (he always had glowing reports on his character, behavior and cognitive/motor abilities), I made an appointment with the grade school principal.

She was five years younger than me, but acted like a stern sixty year old. As I sat there, looking at her somber face in front of an oil painting of the Good Lord, she informed me that Stink seemed very immature at the intake interview.

“He’s FIVE!” I responded, flabergasted.

“Yes, but he didn’t exactly hold his pencil correctly, and with thirty kids in the classroom and one teacher, we don’t have a lot of room for extra attention.”

“Why in the world, then, with that many children, would I want to spend 10k/year on your school?” I asked, incredulous.

“For the Christian environment,” was her clipped response.

“Oh, yeah, I’m really feeling the love here!” was my retort.

So off I went, enrolling him instead in a local charter school. We’re all different religions and sexualities and neuro make-ups and all kids are honored and get this: It’s free and the teacher student ratio is 22 to 1. Jesus would be proud!

My advice to you, today, is to be sure that the school your son or daughter is in does not reflect what you, as their parent, want. Your child is not supposed to live your dreams. They are supposed to live theirs. And that means being supported in a place that best fits their personality, disposition and academic requirements.

I love my charter school! I have the best communities of moms and dads I could ever ask for. (Literally, there are 15 parents at any given time I can call and say “Please pick up my child… I’m running late!” and boom – DONE. Community is everything. And not just any community. A community you are comfortable in.

Here’s a response from a reader here, Leanne, who spoke in my last post about the importance of talking to your child’s school about any issues they might have in order to best ensure their educational success.

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Yes, my son is on Intuniv for tics.  2 mg in the morning, and then the generic form (guanfacine) 0.5 mg afternoon (because you can’t cut the Intuniv pills in half but can the guanfacine).  My son seems better than he was December 2011 when we got the diagnosis……I believe because of the Intuniv.  We didn’t put him on it until June 2012 and only did then because he was SHOUTING HIS WORDS and I can’t even tell you what that was like.  Horrible. 

He waxes and wanes.  I was scared to death of him starting middle school.  I truly was (yes public school).  So I went into middle school before it ended for the year last spring and met with the principal and counselor and let them know I had an incoming son with Tourette’s who would be there in fall.  I had printed off information from the TSA website on what it is, and I also printed off an “introduction paper” on my son and paper clipped a picture of him as well so they would recognize him when he came in. 

I had a friend go with me.  I had stuff about him that I thought would be important, like that he loves math, doesn’t like reading much, loves sports and does a lot of them, and of course explained the tics.  I also had the name of his neurologist and prescriber and phone numbers on there.  That way if they had any questions, they could ask them as well.  I actually cried when meeting with them but they put me right at ease and told me they were there for him and wanted him to have the best education opportunities possible.  I then went back with him two days BEFORE middle school started to meet again with the counselor and take another tour of the school and met with all of his teachers and explained about his tics.  Anything you can do to put his mind at ease, your mind at ease.  The counselor told me that if his tics got loud they could make accommodations such as letting him go to counselor office or bathroom to “let them out” if needed.  There are several things schools can and have to do to help, like a 504 plan I think.  There is a lot about school on http://tsa-usa.org/    

He does have loud vocals waxing and waning.  Some teachers have allowed him to chew gum in class discretely (so other kids won’t want some) and that helps his vocals, so do gummy candies but I try not to do much sugar.  He “disguises” it as well with his words in sentences going up and down in volume.  I was petrified of middle school for him.  But I did all I could BEFORE he got there which I think is huge.  Your mind can take you down some dark, scary roads that don’t even turn out to be true.  I think if you met with middle school staff your mind would be put at ease.  This got so long…….there is just so much I could say because I have been there, I do understand, and will continue praying for you.  I will answer any questions any time.

* Photo taken 3 years ago. These kids are still best friends. So much of that has to do with the school. It’s a school that advocates for diversity and togetherness with no bullying policy. I AM SO GRATEFUL!

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