Worry Free Living Month

In the blink of an eye, the holidays are here again.  The excitement and anticipation this time of year can be particularly challenging for children with special needs and naturally, their parents.  Children are faced with so much stimulation, impulses are difficult to suppress, schools are closed and schedule changes throw everyone off.  I could go on…  But what if you could put down (or cut in half) your anxiety and worry about what will be this holiday season?  What would that make possible?  What does it look like in your mind’s eye to have the holidays go a different? I invite you to consider.

I have declared the next 30 days “Worry Free Living Month”.  In fact, I have even enrolled my daughter in the practice.  You see, I struggle with anxiety.  Always have.  I’m a natural worrier and the older I get, the more practice I have with it.  I’m an A+ student at this point.  Here’s the thing though, 85% of what we worry about never happens.  And even when it does, it’s typically not nearly as difficult to handle as we think it will be.  So, I’m basically wasting a whole lot of time and energy worrying with little return on my investment.  Actually, it has cost me more than I’d like to admit over the years: time, energy, money, relationships, inner peace, health, connection, productivity, gratitude, happiness.

Through my Coach Training Program and now as a Mentor Coach with Accomplishment Coaching, my worrying has been a frequent topic of conversation with the program facilitators, my coach and my coaching colleagues.  I’ve never been proud of it but until now I was unable to grasp how insidious it has become in my life.  After a year and half of growth as a practicing coach, I am committed to taking on this shadowy part of me in service of my clients, my children, my husband and myself.  I am committed to creating a holiday season where we can just be together as a family, being with what is and what is not.  Energy once spent trying to change, control and manage will be channeled towards gratitude, appreciation and being in the present moment.  The thing is that there’s an urgency for me to tackle this.  Having two children with their own anxiety, I am crystal clear that staying in my cycle of worry send the clear message to my children that this is THE way to “do” life.  They must feel, see, hear and experience something different so that they see that they get to choose how it will go for them.

Do you see something available for yourself in dropping the worry?  I welcome you to take the trip alongside me.  So that I can support you, please post your declaration in the comments section!

You may be thinking this all sounds great but it will never work for you.  Or, it sounds great but you can’t figure out how to make the change.  While there is absolutely no “right” way to go about making this shift, here are the steps I’ve carved out for myself.  You get to decide your path as the ultimate expert in your own life.

  1. Worrying is a bad habit. And, like any other habit, forming a new one requires gaining clarity on the purpose letting go of the worry.
  • What will life look like without worry? What will dropping the worry make possible that isn’t possible today?
  • By writing down the answers to these questions, and revisiting them over the course of the month, I will continue to re-present myself to what I truly want.
  1. Next, I will generate awareness around my worry.
  • When does it happen? How do I know when it’s happening?
  • What purpose does it serve for me?
  • Becoming mindful of my worry might include writing down every time I have a worried thought or recording the number of times I worry in an hour.
  1. From here I create a new habit to replace the worry.
  • Repeating a mantra in my head when the worry creeps in,
  • Picking up a small ball and dropping it,
  • Stating a gratitude
  • Maintaining my spirituality practice. Connecting to something higher than myself reminds me to let go and trust
  1. Next, enlisting the support of a loved one or friend to keep me accountable.
  • Support can take any form. My husband, mother and daughter will all be charged with holding me accountable at my request.  My husband will remind me twice a day in person, my mom over the phone each morning and my daughter via text at least once a day.
  1. Finally, as a recovering perfectionist, having compassion for myself when I backslide is going to be of utmost importance. No worrying about worrying allowed.

And with that, I’m off…Happy Holidays!

As a reminder, I’m the mother of two children with TS. I am committed to be of service to other parents in the NJCTS community.  I’ll do this by sharing my own experiences on the blog and by providing complimentary parent coaching.  Please contact me for support.

Emily Golden, ACC
Coach & HR Consultant
Golden Resources, LLC
emily@golden-resources.com
www.golden-resources.com

52 Weeks of TS: Week 52

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the past year on Tuesdays, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers has shared his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. This is the LAST week of this series, so there’s a chance you missed one or more entries from his exciting, revealing journey. You can read all of them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

Is it really here? Have we reached the 52nd week of this series? From doctor appointments to social events, from new tics to new jobs, I have expressed it all and I have learned and grown from the whole experience. I’m sad that I have reached the end, but excited for what will come in the future.

But I’m still led to ask, “Why do I do this to myself?” Why are there certain occasions that I still let fear and embarrassment rule my life and cause me to be this untrue version of myself? The answer is easy, it’s those judging eyes. It’s much easier when you’re dealing with a one on one situation, but when you have a room full of people looking at you, staring at you, judging you, it can be hard.

It brings me back to my school days, sitting in the classroom and having all my peers and teacher looking at me. The only difference now is that I have an explanation. I know what to say to someone who asks that dreaded question, “Why are you doing that with your head?” but there is still that fear of people asking.

The rest of the week went well, but just more running around and very little time to rest. Besides working, I also was planning a  dinner for my co-workers. I have OCD, and for some reason I think it would be a good idea to invite 10 people over to my house for dinner. Do I really want 10 people walking around my safe zone, spreading germs, making messes, and moving and touching my stuff?

Well, I guess it’s too late. I opened my big mouth. Having a dinner party with this amount of people takes a lot of planning and organization, which is fine with my OCD and anxiety disorder. However, did I really need to set the table a week before the party? Yep, a week before hand. My husband questioned me about why I set it so early and I explained to him that I did not have time during the week to do it. Really? The truth is I’m OCD. I had to set it up early enough so I would know it was perfect. Everything had to be in the right place, and I needed to make sure it was all organized correctly.

Despite all my OCD’s the dinner went very well. Normally with an event like this, I would have asked everyone to take off their shoes as not to spread the germs of the NYC streets all over my apartment, but I was not able to do this. About 30 minutes before everyone arrived, my husband shattered a glass top to a casserole dish. The glass flew everywhere. Besides the kitchen, I found glass in the hallway and living room. We tried to clean it all up, but I knew there still might be a piece somewhere. Now the decision has come. I would much rather the germs of NYC in my apartment than the chance of someone’s blood.

How does my mind go to this extreme? Am I really OK with dirt from the streets on my floor, but not blood? I mean I could always mop the floor and sanitize them to clean up the dirt, but what if the blood touched me? OK, I know it sounds insane, but for me blood leads to death. What if someone has some deadly disease and they cut themselves and then I cut myself? OK, it doesn’t sound insane, IT IS INSANE!

Basically, what I’m saying is that a broken glass in the kitchen will lead to my death. Are you kidding me? I know I need to calm down about some things, but this is how I am. Everyone came over and we had a delicious meal (and everyone kept their shoes on, so I’m glad to say the grim reaper will not be making a stop at place anytime too soon.)

As I reached the end of the week, I reached the end of this series. It’s been a wonderful year, and I achieved my resolution. I reached out to so many people and educated many of them. I opened my mouth and through my words, I learned more about myself. I think my resolution for the year to come is to not be afraid. To be myself.

The end.

52 Weeks of TS: Week 51

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. With just ONE week remaining in this series, there’s a chance you missed one or more entries from his exciting, revealing journey. You can read all of them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

I have described my TS through analogies, poetry, honesty and fear, but the reality is that I have TS. I am Troye Evers and I have Tourette Syndrome. I don’t like my tics, but I’m going to own them. I don’t like my OCD, but I’m going to grasp it. It is an endless struggle, but it is part of me, it’s who I am. My TS has taught me so much, and helped me teach others.

It’s been about a week since I have stopped taking the Chinese herbs and I have not seen a change. Do I have to wait another four to six weeks for my tics to go back to normal, or am I stuck with these new tics? Out of everything that I have tried this year, the only thing that I have noticed to actually help is the fish oil.

I don’t regret anything that I’ve tried. It was all a learning experience. Therefore, something didn’t work for me. That’s the thing with TS; it is really about trial and error. Just because it did not work for me does not mean that it won’t work for someone else, but like 52 Weeks of TS, I think I’m near the end of my journey of trial and error. I could continue experimenting with different medications and other rumored helpful remedies or I can just accept what I was given. By accepting what I was given, I would make myself stronger.

As we venture deeper into the season, my OCD’s get worse. This is a normal thing, it happens every year. The media does not help me with this. The news is always reporting about how dirty and germ filled different places are. The other night they did a report on café’s and how germs are spread and how many there are. It’s really just gross. Do you realize how many people don’t wash their hands after going the bathroom? Then they will go to get their coffee and fill it up with milk. Now there is feces and urine on the milk that I’m about to put in my coffee. Just one more reason to never leave my apartment.

It’s things like this that makes my OCD and Germaphobia so bad. I don’t think I feed into it too much; it’s more the stupidity of other people. I walk around and watch people cough and sneeze all over the city with no cares of who’s around them. This week, I actually watched two examples of people’s stupidity like this. One was on my morning subway ride to work.

As I’ve already said, the subway ride is usually the hardest time of my day especially for my OCDs. One morning I was on the train and across from me was a mother with her son who was about three years old. I sat there and watched as the mother let her child climb all over the seats, then lay on the seats and put his feet all over the window. These feet that are all over the seats and windows are the same feet that have walked all over the city that is cover in bird feces, dog feces and rat feces.

This was not the end of it. After the little boy put his feet all over the window, he proceeded to get up, stand on the seat again and put his face and lips on the window that his feet were just on. The mother did nothing. Are you serious? It’s just absolutely disgusting. Now everything that your child has stepped in all over the city is now in his mouth. They soon got off the train and someone else sat down in the kid’s seat and rested his head on the dirty disease covered window. That poor unaware person.

This was not the only thing like this I saw this week. I also witnessed a woman walking down the street with a dead bloody pigeon. It looked as if the pigeon might have just been hit by a car, but really. Are you really just walking around carrying a dead pigeon with your bare hands? Pigeons are the most disgusting, disease-covered birds in NYC.

I’m not really fond of any birds, I think they are all gross, but pigeons are the top of that list. They eat anything, including garbage and I have even witnessed a pigeon eating a dead pigeon on the road. One of my friends and I used to call pigeons “rigeons” because they are rats with wings, and now this woman is walking around with it in her hand. The only question I have is, when is it going to be legal for me to walk around and spray strangers with my Lysol?

Yet I am still here, so I’m going to keep on keeping on. I have a bigger battle — educating people about Tourette Syndrome. Until next week, “I’ll tic to you later.”

52 Weeks of TS: Week 46

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. With just 6 weeks remaining in this series, there’s a chance you missed one more entries from his exciting, revealing journey. You can read all of them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

I’m tired!! I have to say, I think this has been one of the longest, most exhausting weeks that I’ve had in a while. I had a freelance job doing hair and makeup for a high school musical, which I do about 5 times a year, but this one was different. I usually design the show three weeks in advance, but I missed two weeks. I ended up designing the show on Monday, and we opened on Wednesday. This just made for a very stressful week, not anxiety, but a lot of stress.

Just like anxiety, stress triggers my tics, so it’s been a very ticcy week. I feel as if my brain has been bouncing around inside my skull all week. My neck tic has been bad all week, and I’ve been taking aspirin for the constant headache that does not seem to go away.

Usually, I try not to suppress my tics in my everyday life, but while I’m working in the high school all bets are off. I just feel as if I have to suppress them.

I guess it has to do with my own high school experience. There was always constant mocking and my fellow students were always making fun of me. Once I walk back into a school, it tends to bring me back to that time and place. It’s a cruel world we live in. I try not to suppress my tics in many adult situations, but when you’re dealing with uneducated ignorance and immaturity of high school kids, it can be hard to explain. How do you teach someone something who thinks that they know everything?

A person with Tourette Syndrome has to have thick skin. It’s not something we are born with, but we have to grow it. I thought about this a lot this week, and I’ve realized that we have been supplied the greatest weapon for our fight to educate — our mouth. The more we open our mouths, the thicker our skin becomes and the stronger we become, but it can be a hard thing to do.

When we are kids, we are scared, nervous and possibly beaten down by ignorance. It can take a lot for those shy kids to battle their own fears and demons, to turn around and speak about the very thing that has brought them down. Look at me. It took me about 15 years to start my battle against ignorance, and I still deal with fear. Despite the fear, I still try to fight the fight and continue to educate people.

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Myths and truths about Tourette Syndrome

Ever since George Gilles de la Tourette discovered Tourette have people discussed and questioned real signs of the syndrome. Everything starting with how the disorder manifest and ending with the ways it should be treated is being discussed by doctors, patients and their relatives for over 100 years.

The general meaning of the syndrome is described as a neurological disorder which is characterized by frequent involuntary vocal tics and movements.

According to a PhD clinical researcher and doctor Douglas Woods, Tourette happens in 6 to 1000 people. Adults and kids suffering from the disorder can experience numerous problems like repetitive strain injuries, numbness, and ADHD. Kids suffering from Tourette increase chances of getting ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder) 60% more.

In this article we will go through top myths and truths about Tourette syndrome to create a clear picture of the disorder:

  • Myth #1. Everyone with Tourette syndrome use obscenities uncontrollably. The majority of people describe Tourette syndrome as such that makes you swear uncontrollably, in fact some believe it to be the definition of the syndrome as they often see in movies. However, only 10% of people with the syndrome experience it.
  • Myth #2. Tourette is caused by bad parenting. Doctor Woods says that the syndrome is genetically based. And although scientists couldn’t isolate a single gene, they came to a conclusion that it is a complex of genes that causes the syndrome, which proves that it has nothing to do with parenting.
  • Myth #3. Fear causes tics. Some people think that tics caused by Tourette syndrome are actually caused by nervous surrounding and fearful environment around the patient. In reality, it has nothing to do with the way of living, it is caused by the basal ganglia dysfunction, involved in motor control.
  • Myth #4. Medication is the only treatment. It appears that medication is not the only treatment when it comes to Tourette. If tics aren’t repetitive enough, individuals, especially children can be cured with a help of behavior therapy. The therapy teaches patients to recognize the time when tic is about to happen in order to control and even prevent it. People with Tourette syndrome admit to experience a premonitory urge right before the tic, which can be expressed as an itch or tickle.
  • Myth #5. Teaching kids to recognize tics can increase their repetitiveness. Researcher found that kids who have successfully suppress tics, do not have an increase in tics. The lasts study showed that in some cases, tics decreased by 17 % after the therapy.
  • Myth #6. People with Tourette cannot lead normal, active lives. On the contrary, people diagnosed with Tourette syndrome tend to be highly successful people. David Beckham, Michael Wolf, Dan Ackroyd and Marc Summers are living illustrations of successful people who have Tourette. 

52 Weeks of TS: Week 42

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Tuesday, noted Tourette Syndrome advocate Troye Evers shares his “52 Weeks of TS” blog journal with the TSParentsOnline community. With just 10 weeks remaining in this series, there’s a chance you missed one more entries from his exciting, revealing journey. You can read all of them here. For more information about Troye, please click on his name or visit his website.

Welcome to the wonderful world of TS, a world that brings on strange and mysterious underlying disorders. Additions to our state of mind that we might never expect, this week is depression. I don’t suffer from this much, but when I do, it hits me like a brick wall. Earlier this week that brick wall hit me out of nowhere.

It was a normal day, and by 5:00 pm, I felt the brick wall of depression crumbling around me. I ask myself, “why?” I have been working so hard to try to make changes to better my life. I just released a book, that I hope will help people all over, I changed jobs to get out of the negativity and immaturity of the previous job setting, but still the depression finds its way inside me.

On this night, I sat there and watched mindless TV with my husband, but I just sat there in a funk. The whole night I was on the verge of tears, but there was no explanation for it. My husband asked me a few times why I was so crabby, in which I responded, “I’m not crabby.” I couldn’t tell him that I was depressed, and had feelings of just not wanting to be here anymore. If I had said those words, he would have just asked why I was depressed.

How do you explain to someone that you have no idea why you’re going through this, but to link it back to this TS thing I have. We finally did go to bed and he still pushed me for an answer as to why I was acting so weird. As I sat there in the darkness of our room, the tears quietly rolled down and I still said nothing was wrong. By this point, he knew something was up, but I was still unable to explain it.

It scares me sometimes, because I don’t want to scare him. Maybe it’s the OCD inside me, but all I could think of is what was he thinking, “Did he think something is wrong with our relationship?” No, that’s not it. I don’t know why I am this way. It’s somewhat funny, ironically half way through the night he showed me an article about the creativity in writers with mental illness. As we laid there, he asked me if what I was going through had anything to do with that article. I told him, “No, ironically it started before I even read the article.”

The little bout of depression lasted just a couple days, as it always does. In the midst of my depression, I did have my acupuncture appointment. The anxiety and fear built up as the appointment approached. I actually tried to come up with excuses to cancel the appointment, but sucked up my fear and went to the appointment.

The appointment started with an interview about my medical history. I filled out a form checking off all my medical history. One of the things I did check off was depression. When the acupuncturist came back in the room, and looked over my form, she started asking about everything I checked off. When she asked about the depression I told her I go through it once a year for a couple days, and before I could even finished the sentence I burst into tears.

For no reason, I was sitting there crying in front of a woman I had known for about five minutes, how embarrassing… She said not to worry about it. I told her besides the depression I was also dealing with many OCD issues and increased anxiety about being there and having acupuncture. In actuality, it was not that bad. A few light pokes from clean, unused needles and I was quite relaxed.

I have to go back next week and do the acupuncture again, I think it might be a once a week thing. We’ll see how well it works with the tics and anxiety. I did tell her that I was on a new regimen of multivitamins, fish oil, and that I felt that it was working on my anxiety. She explained that fish oil could help with anxiety. I do have to say, I really feel like the fish oil has been helping. I usually have such horrible anxiety about leaving my apartment and getting on the subway, but now it’s not that bad of an event. There is still a little anxiety, but the level has dropped dramatically.

I hate talking about going to the bathroom, but I have discussed this a few times in the past weeks. Since the event back in august at the airport, I’ve been really trying to pay attention to my bathroom behavior. I have notice I actually do tic more during and after going to the bathroom. It’s one more strange realization, but it does put me into a small tic attack.

It’s a funny thing that we can walk through life but if we’re not paying attention, we might not realize certain things about ourselves. How are we supposed to educate others about a disorder that we have, if we don’t even know ourselves? This year has been a great year, and I have learned so much about my body, and my unwelcomed guests Tourette Syndrome, OCD, anxiety disorder, etc.

I’m glad I’m learning more about myself, and am now able to educate people about what I’m going through. Before coming out of the so-called, “TS closet”, I was uneducated about what I was going through. However, through research, asking questions, educating myself, and just looking into myself, I feel like I know my body more than ever.

While I was in the “TS closet”, I spent much of my time blaming others. I have stopped blaming others now. We can’t blame the world for our problems. We are the solution. If we educate ourselves, we can educate others. I think that we all will have to deal with experiences of ignorance, and all we can do is open our mouths and try to educate. If they are unwilling to learn, that is their own ignorance. We just have to remember that we are the solution.

Until next week, “I’ll tic to you later.”

Fighting fear

I took Kane and Kenzi to a carnival last night at the school where his father and I graduated from. Kane was excited all day to go. When we got there and he saw the amount of people, he began to panic. He wouldn’t play any games, go in any bouncy houses or leave my side. He began to have a panic attack in the gym when he noticed a lady watching him have a tic. I tried to encourage him to look beyond all the people and have a good time, he tried but couldn’t do it. Watching him like that broke my heart!

Below are 8 Steps for Helping Your Child Overcome a Fear, by Kate Kelly of Understood.org:

Fears are a normal part of childhood—and so is learning to overcome them. But kids with learning and attention issues may have more fears than other kids do. They may worry about failing at school, about not fitting in with other kids, about what the future holds for them or about problems that relate to their specific issues.

Kids with learning and attention issues may also have more trouble overcoming their fears and need extra support to do it. But as a parent, there’s a lot you can do to help your child get past her fears. Here’s a step-by-step plan:

  1. Be a good listener. Ask your child to tell you exactly why they are afraid. Putting their emotions in words makes them more manageable.
  2. Take the fear seriously. Saying, “That’s silly” won’t convince your child the’ll get into college. But it may make them reluctant to open up.
  3. Don’t let your child just avoid what they fear. It may seem easier, but it just reinforces their fear and suggests they can’t master it.
  4. Send the message that they can overcome this fear. Tell them it’s OK to be afraid, but they’ll get through this and you’ll help.
  5. Ask your child what might help. Brainstorm ideas. If they are afraid of attending a party, perhaps they can go with a group of friends.
  6. Help your child take small steps. They might practice for a sleepover by spending a night in their sibling’s room or the living room.
  7. Make contingency plans. Brainstorm solutions: “If I get lost on the field trip, I’ll text my travel buddy. Or I’ll find a museum guard.”
  8. Let your child know you’re proud. When they face—and survive—something they feared, they’ll gain confidence that they can handle other fears, too.

UPCOMING WEBINAR: February 25 on Sensory Issues at Home & at School

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Making Sense of Sensory Issues – How to manage heightened senses at home and in the classroom

February 25, 2015

Presented by Dr. Michelle Miller, Psy.D., a New York State-licensed clinical psychologist who works at Therapy West, a group practice in Manhattan, and as post-doctoral fellow in the Tourette’s Syndrome Clinic at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.

Over the years, parents and teachers have been increasingly attending to childrens’ sensory-related struggles; however, understanding and supporting sensory problems still remains unclear for so many people who work with children. Research also has suggested that 1 in 6 children are significantly impacted by sensory issues, further highlighting the need for this area to be addressed. This webinar is aimed at exploring what sensory issues are, how they look in different children and adults, and what can be done — both at home and at school — to help children with sensory issues thrive.

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR »

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UPCOMING WEBINAR: January 21 on Habit Reversal Therapy

THIS WEEK’S WEBINAR

Creative Applications of Exposure Therapy and Habit Reversal Therapy

January 21, 2015

Presented by Dr. Joelle Beecher-McGovern, a clinical psychotherapist at the Child & Adolescent OCD, Tic, Trich & Anxiety Group (COTTAGe) in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has strong experiential support for a number of psychiatric disorders among children and adolescents. It includes several treatment modalities, including exposure therapy for pediatric anxiety and habit reversal training for tic disorders and trichotillomania. Despite the strong evidence for these treatments, they can be difficult for children and families to implement for a number of reasons, including logistical barriers, motivation issues and difficulties with follow-through in out-of-session work.

In this presentation, Dr. Hilary Dingfelder will briefly describe these treatment modalities and discuss some of the practical issues associated with implementing these treatments with children and adolescents. Dr. Dingfelder will then discuss some creative applications of these strategies to enhance these treatments for children and adolescents. Examples of areas that will be covered include:

  1. How technology can be used to supplement treatment (e.g., using the smart phone to monitor progress or supplement exposures)
  2. How to strengthen reward plans to improvement motivation
  3. Creative ways to enhance exposures with young children (e.g., through the use of games and puppets).

REGISTER FOR THIS WEBINAR »

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Happily Ticked Off — The Book, Part 4: Chapter 1

At long last, here is Chapter 1 of my book “Happily Ticked Off” for you to read if you’re interested. I hope to share more with you on this book’s progress, my writing progress and my kid’s crazy life in 2015.

As always, I’d love to hear from you, too!

TOC

Chapter 1 — UnrealisTIC

Your dreams are not your kid’s dreams. Listen to well meaning educators, even if it’s scary, and trust your instincts. Oh, and get some real friends – the ones that will listen to you cry, make you laugh, and call you on your crap. Trust me on that last part.

I am not the first parent in the world to feel insecure about parenting, nor will I be the last. Special needs or not, giving birth is one big lottery ticket. You are literally making a bargain with the universe that you will do everything in your power to keep your kid safe, to make him strong, to give him values and a sense of self, but at any time he could come down with some devastating illness or get hit by a taco truck. And just like that, all those years of telling him to pick up his socks or shut the fridge to save five cents would be wasted. And you’d never be able to eat Mexican food again.

The above statement sounds so fatalistic. Most people prefer not to even think about it, and who can blame them? It’s scary. It’s unnerving.  And it’s exactly these terrifying fears that drive today’s marketing.

Rich ad execs everywhere are mortgaging their mansions based on Just In Case advertising:  Bank that cord blood just in case your kid comes down with some terminal illness.… Spend the extra hundred and fifty dollars on the Britax car seat just in case you’re hit by an out of control taco truck… Buy the brand name diaper cream just in case your baby’s butt breaks out in hives and ruins your Disney Cruise.  For that matter, book that Disney Cruise whether or not you can afford it just in case your kid grows up to hate you. You can show him, and the grandkids, those pictures of the four of you in Mickey hats coughing up a lung with laughter on the lido deck. Now how could you be a bad parent with proof like that?

Like most people, I wanted the best for my toddler. While I prided myself in not falling prey to every Mommy and Me Groupon that promised to make my son smarter than Einstein, I was also on a pretty strict budget. I couldn’t afford a four hundred dollar car seat or a fancy vacation even if I wanted one. But I did want the best for his education.

As the product of Catholic school myself, I was sure my son would enjoy the same benefits of a private Christian environment – and it was never too early to start. Nicky was three – a year away from his Tourettes diagnosis. As far as I was concerned, his educational career would be nothing but smooth sailing, so why not start him off right?

Against my husband’s wishes on the matter, who figured the local community college co-op would be just fine for our active and friendly tyke, I signed Nicky up for an elite preschool ten miles away. Distance was no barrier to my son’s learning.  He deserved the best.  And that “best” just happened to reside on a campus adjacent to the very grammar school I had attended.

The day I turned in his registration – an intense intake form that was more detailed than his hospital exit papers – I ran into women I hadn’t seen in 20 years. Those freckle faced school girls of my memories had morphed into botoxed 30-something women. Ugg boots replaced saddle shoes.  Flat-ironed hair replaced ponytails and braids. The only thing familiar was the uneasy pit in my stomach.

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