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Tag Archives: T.S.

Special Needs, Shame and Growing Up

By the title, I’d love to tell you that this post is all about my son. That I’m this awesome mom of a kid who tics and, despite his twitches and occasional shakes, I’m helping him work past his shame. You see, he’s growing up. In Stink’s case, literally. (He’s 6 foot 1. I’m in heels. He’s estimated to be SIX FOOT NINE. Um… I’m so okay with this no big deal sheesh dying on the inside a little bit each day.)

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You see, a well balanced mother… one with a full time job and freelance side job and a walk with Jesus and recently turned 37 47-year-old mother should be happy that her son is healthy.

Oh yes, he still tics. He does this head jerking up down/up down/arm thrust/arm thrust shaky shake every minute or so. He warbles a bit when he talks. But most people don’t notice it. And, more importantly, he doesn’t care.

I am quite certain many of you moms of tickers want to slap me. I know that many of your kids suffer from worry about their symptoms. I can say two things about the Tourette Syndrome diagnosis over the past 10 years:

  1. I can’t take credit for his confidence. I’ve sometimes been a real jerk.
  2. Sometimes I wish he were bugged a bit. It means I could offer him some supplements… some CBD oil… some new diet or medication or meditation or unicorn sperm to just calm. it. down.

But that’s not the real rub (not the unicorn sperm). The real rub is that when I can’t focus on changing tics, my husband, my daughter, my mother, my neighbors or my entitled pit bull, I can only focus on myself.

for robin

This takes on a lot of different forms.

  • Manic busyness
  • Too much concentration on work (work I have, work I want, work I’m behind on)
  • Picking fights over stupid things (“The way you chew that food. Is it necessary?”)
  • Obsessive thinking (Most people have 4000 thoughts 4 times/day. When I’m anxious, I get 4 thoughts 4000 times/day. I’m lucky that way.)
  • Mood swings (8am – My job is awesome! 8:03 – Oh everyone can suck it and die!)
  • High highs and low lows

Lest you think I’m possibly bi-polar, one of my other amazing qualities is being neurotic. I’ve been down this road before, and anyone who knows me, or read my book, knows that I saw a shrink for anxiety. I’m definitely not bi-polar. I’m just a fairly intelligent writer who thinks to much, feels too much and is a bit on the shock controlling side. (I have lots of great qualities, too, but rather than see the prior list as “bad” and my generosity, humor and love of people as “good,” I’m attempting to see both sides as simply part of me. It’s the way I’m wired. God made me this way, so it must be good enough.)

Sorry, Mom

I write all this not to have my mother sit in her home office and shake her head with sighs of “Dear, Jesus, how did a calm Bostonion like me give birth to such a transparent wacka-do?” I say this because I’m pretty sure the only difference between someone like me, and others who don’t say it like it is, is that I’m attempting to be brave enough to admit I don’t always have it all together.

  • I worry about money.
  • I worry about not spending enough time with extended family.
  • I worry about my kids growing up too fast.
  • I worry about what other people think about me.
  • I worry about my husband’s job.
  • I worry that I shouldn’t worry about any of the things above this bullet point and I still do which means all these years of therapy and AA must mean I’m really more screwed up than I realize OH MY FRIGGIN A THIS SUCKS.

Oh, Wait, There’s Good News!

Yes, there is Good News on a biblical level. (My faith walk is so helpful. But this is not a Jesus post. Especially with a half naked woman in a cone bra right below the good Lord’s name. Though I’m sure Jesus would find her cute. He was a man after all! And don’t give me the “He’s gay he hung out with 12 men” speech because I call about 20 women/day and that doesn’t make me a dyke on a bike but, thanks to my obsessive mind, now I have something new to concentrate on. Hooray!)

SSSSSSS

The good news is, like a random blue sock in a pile of white laundered gold toed stallions, I see the source of what ails me and drives my need to focus on others instead of myself.

The bad news? That sock is nothing but good old fashioned shame. Shame that reminds me that there’s this wee wee piece left of “you’re not good enough” left from some random experiences I had who knows when back in my childhood.

The good news is that, knowing I have old tapes in my head, there is healing. The good news is that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m not the only one. My friends admit their shame. My close family members share it with me. Heck, random people in Costco tell me about it while we’re in line for five dollar rotisserie chicken. “I’m sorry I got so cranky just there,” one woman told me. “I have terrible anxiety about being late for dinner as a kid on the farm and it manifests itself in hormone injected poultry.” (I can’t make this crap up.)

Not Admitting It Doesn’t Make It Not Real

I don’t want to admit I have shame anymore than that blue sock feels comfortable in a pile of crisp white matching show off socks. (I hate them! Their perfect pairs! Their no hole perfection! Damn them all!) But knowledge is the first step toward freedom.

Tourettes – My Ticket to Freedom

Maybe like me you have a child with Tourettes and you’re scared. Maybe your child has a different disability. Maybe you have no children with disabilities but you think that maybe you might relate to my big “I have issues” proclamation.

If so, you’re welcome here. April is Shame Month on Happily Ticked Off! And that’s no April Fools joke! Lets talk about it. Lets support each other. And let’s have a few laughs.

If my ticking, estimated to be 6’9, goof ball son can deal with a disability shame free, then we can, too!

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(I hope Luna, the dog my son pets over the fence every day on the way to school, doesn’t have a “No Media” policy.)

Lets use our “special needs” as a ticket to stop focusing on what isn’t the issue (the disability) and get to the root of what is.

Until then,

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

book cover

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Letting Kids Fail:When to Let Go?

I don’t know about you guys, but the only thing harder than being in middle school myself is watching my kids go through it. It’s painful enough watching my sweet Martha Stewart daughter deal with kids in the hall throwing curse words. Her Victorian sensibilities are under attack on a daily basis and she’s ready to throw up her parasol in despair.

“It’s just too much, Mom!” she cried the other day, fanning herself with yet another tween novel about pioneers and progress. “This is why I refused to go on the nature trip. Why would I deal with the insanity of boy crazy girls and bad food when I could be at home with a book and a cup of tea in front of a warm cozy fire?”

I wish I were joking.

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Then there’s my son. He’s about as far a cry from Jane Eyre as Snickers is to junk food. Bring on the hump day tee shirts. Bring on the Pokemon hats with the bright yellow balls and the Pikachu-themed Nintendo DS’s. No skateboards and skinny jeans for this kid. Add in some tics and you’ve got yourself about as far out of the social circle as one can get.

nerd alert

A friend of mine, whose son has Asperger’s, told me that her son really began to shine when she put him in an alternative school.

“My kid was a duck trying to fit into a swan pond,” she told me, with nary a hint of frustration or defeat. (Apparently going through cancer can cure you of a lot of things that once would bring you down. But I digress.) “Now he goes to a school that’s only full of ducks. He can waddle to his heart’s content.”

This thinking seems completely reasonable. Why should a kid suffer for being who he is? I 100% applaud her decision.

But for my kids and my situation, here’s the real sticky mess – the Oreo filling in the center of two very logical crackers: “What if a little bit of suffering is what my kids need to grow and become strong?”

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In her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, Jessica Lahey talks about how we, as parents, can let our kids fight their own battles to become self-sufficient adults who don’t crumble at the first sign of adversity.

The Amazon description reads:

“In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.

Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.

Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education.”

It’s tough. On one hand, I don’t want to hover. But where is that fine line between letting a kid learn his part to avoid feeling like a victim, and when is a kid truly a victim? If you’re like me, you know only too well your child’s short comings. “I can tell my kid that his new hair do makes him look like a candidate for the short bus, but if that punk with the flat top makes fun of his bowl cut he’s going to hear it from mama’s best side!”

fart

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Bottom line, like this picture of me (taken by said wacky son), life can sometimes feel sideways. It’s tough to stand back and watch my kids get hurt. But when I’m truly being honest – who is getting hurt more? Them or me?

Trying to keep mean children and sadness away from them is like trying to stop the ocean. On good days I surf those choppy waves like a pro. On bad days I go under. But most days, I aim to sit on the beach and remember that my kids have had their swim lessons. It’s time to let them go a bit deeper into the water. And when they need a breath, I’ll be right on the shore – warm towel in hand.

(But not for that mean kid in seventh grade whose name will go unnamed. That kid can be freezing and suck it.)

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

book cover

Exercise, The Magic Kingdom and Richard Simmons

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I took a break from blogging, T.S. and all things work related yesterday to spend the day at Disneyland with my daughter. Thanks to Tuskany, whose hubby works at the studio, we not only got free parking and a free park entrance, but there was a substantial discount on merchandise and food as well. Plus she has an electric car, so no gas was required. (Well, I can’t say there was no gas. I had two cups of coffee. But that doesn’t count.)

To say it was a magical day is an understatement. It was exactly the medicine the doctor ordered. I am so grateful.

While I absolutely refused to post Facebook photos of myself and my kid in front of Cinderella’s Castle per my latest anti-boasting Facebook Embargo, I feel okay bragging about it here. It’s a reminder for me, when I look back at posts, that sometimes when the world feels like a big giant “no” there arealways people ready to throw me a “yes.” That was Tuskany, and I am so very grateful.

Side note: For those of you with friends two decades long, call them up and say hi. Whether they can offer you free theme park passes or not, there’s nothing like a live chat with someone who has loved you through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Throughout the day, I made a conscious effort to not look at my phone. I didn’t need to text my friend about my job interview. (Yes, it went very well, thank you!) I didn’t need to call my spouse about picking up my son. (Rex is more reliable than the inevitable waxing and waning of tics.) And I certainly didn’t need to check my email to see updates on my Ebay shipment, who needs help with their kids, or what some random website was emailing me about gluten free corn dogs that I can’t afford to buy now anyway. Yesterday was just about the people directly in front of me.

Staying focused on the present is no easy task for an over-thinker like me. Pinocchio’s nose made me think about lying, which made me think about the Monsanto cheating us out of healthy food.

As quickly as I’d bring myself back to the present, Cinderella’s lost slipper would make me think about my shoes. “Is that why my back is hurting? I don’t have proper footwear?” which inevitably lead to my son’s feet. “I need to get Stink new shoes. And really, if I think about it, he needs to do more exercise, that would help with the tics!” And just like that, I’d be down Alice’s rabbit hole quicker than you can say Giles de la Tourette.

But here’s the deal. At the Happiest Place on Earth, it’s impossible not to think about the magic of life. I might not be able to make all my problems go away like Bibbity Bobbity Boo. I might find myself fighting tic crocodiles for a while or being rudely awakened by the fact that my Prince sometimes has more frog in him than Royal blood. (Like last week… not our greatest week ever. But hey, I didn’t make a horny toad joke. Until now. Oh, well.)

james and andrea

But life is not a fairy tale. There are good chapters and bad chapters, villains and heroes. But in the end, with the right perspective, I can have Happily Ever After in accepting what it is I can’t change, changing the things I can, and having the wisdom to know the difference.

Yesterday, I accepted what I couldn’t change: The tics were still very  high.

I accepted what I could change: “Yes, Tuskany, I would LOVE to take my daughter out of school and surprise her with a Disney day. Thank you!”

And I had the wisdom to know the difference: I reminded myself that I had a plan to slowly incorporate some of Doctor Carroll’s suggestions when I get my full-time job. Until then, I would journal and write lists. Then, with the knowledge that nothing would be forgotten,  I had no choice but to focus full attention on a lovely little girl who is growing up before my very eyes.

I also would like to add that I had a another genius stroke of wisdom. My son needs more exercise, and so do I. With all the gray hairs I’ve gotten in the past two weeks worrying about what I can’t change, and his spike in symptoms, perhaps we can both start exercising to Richard Simmons. He makes me laugh like crazy, plus he has a video called Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes. It stars his mom, Farrah Fawcett’s mom, Al Pachino’s mom and Sylvester Stallone’s mom doing leg kicks, twists, stretches and other good-for-you cardiovascular moves, all set to tacky 80’s music. When Simmons does a re-do with Stink’s mom, I’m in.

 

I’d love to know how you all are managing your lives. What exciting things are you saying yes to?

Bonus points for anyone who wants to do a Richard Simmons video. Who is in? Leave a comment. I’ll be giving you a quiz next week, so no cheating. Get on your tennis shoes, strap on your fanny pack, and get ready to disco like a silver fox!