Here is the second part of the introduction from 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!
Introduction, Part 2
Many of you will opt for a more natural route to easing tics, but worry about your child’s self-esteem while you work out a game plan. You don’t want him teased. Your heart breaks that some nasty kid will poke fun at his arm thrusting tic.
I understand your concern. I was crushed at the prospect of some bully tormenting my baby. But I set my emotions aside and focused on a more important reality: Cruel kids are going to tease other children whether or not those children have tics. My son’s heart, character and personality would define him, not his tics. (Chapter B)
“That’s easier said than done,” you might wail.
To that I will respond with a resounding, “Duh.” But with practice, you’ll learn to focus on your child’s strengths, not his tics.
Mild Tics/Mild Annoyance
If your child has mild tics, there’s a good chance he doesn’t notice them or isn’t bothered by them.
This last statement is hard to believe, but it’s true. Your kid might be happily watching Spongebob, coughing like a bronchitis stricken seal six times a minute, and his only complaint at the end of the show will be, “Mommy, I could really go for a bologna and cheese sandwich.”
Your Child’s Life Is Not Over
To highly tuned-in mamas like yourselves, your children’s inability to be affected by tics is baffling, because every minor gulp, throat clear and tongue click will be magnified into LOUD! RICOCHETING! EXPLOSIONS! They will boom like a fog horn in your ringing ears, taunting you that “Your child’s life is O-V-E-R.”
Your child’s life is far from over. Tics or TS is not a death sentence. The only thing that needs to die is your old vision of what you thought your child’s life would look like. He can experience as much success as a non-ticking child.
It’s Not Your Fault
I’d lie if I said I have 100% embraced TS, but with some experience under my belt, I have better days than worse days. I might make my kid eat brocalli on purpose, but I didn’t give him T.S. on purpose. I don’t blame myself for his condition.
Whether your child has a unique case of TS or he had a genetic pre-disposition to it, stop feeling guilty about it. Focus instead on passing down other incredible gifts to your child, such as the ability to stay curious about life, the ability to love, the ability to experience endless joy and the ability to tell a killer joke. (Never underestimate that last talent. It far surpasses tics any day of the week.)
You Feel Like You Could Die
“I’m devastated,” you might moan. “Acceptance is about as likely to happen for me as winning the Lottery. And frankly, I’d trade in tics for a million dollar jackpot any day of the week.”
Unlike tics that often appear out of nowhere, transformation doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need time to both accept this crazy syndrome as well as come up with a protocol that will lessen your child’s symptoms. You need to be patient.
“How can I be patient?” You’ll snap. “As if I didn’t already have the stress of bills, housecleaning, work and a husband who, for the record, seems eerily unshaken by these tics and has no idea why I’m freaking out, I now have to listen to lip smacking five times a minute for three hours straight?!?!”
To this I’ll respond, “Patience comes when you stop paying such close attention.”
And to that you will respond with something that sounds like “Duck” and ends with “You.”
Go ahead. I can take it. I can also handle your protests about how you’ve tried not to pay attention to your kid’s noises, but you can’t help yourself.
It Gets Better
“There he goes again!” you’ll complain, as you read this introduction and scan for tics with the obsession hound dog sniffing out convicts. (Congrats on the multi-tasking, btw.)
To all this I will heartily add that “I have been there! I get it! It will get better!”
No one Understands!
You will simply roll your eyes, wondering for a brief moment if you yourself have tics but then realize you’re simply being catty to me which, again, I forgive you. You will then convince yourself that no one else could possibly understand your frustration and hopelessness.
But I do understand it. I have been locked in car rides through the desert where no amount of country music could drown out my son’s post swimming throat clears. For days afterwards, similar to Old Faithful, I couldn’t help watching and waiting for his well-timed and unremitting eruptions.
Other People Don’t Notice Tics Like You Do
“Old Faithful is an excellent analogy,” you agree, “because everyone is going to stare at him in public – clapping and jeering at this unique and boisterous spectacle.”
Unlike visiting a national monument, most people are not interested in the incredible national treasure that is your child. They simply will not notice the minor sounds and vocal movements. Stop being such a narcissist. (Note: It takes one to know one. I am constantly working on that trait, too!)
No Room for Fear
But I’m terrified he will be ostracized by his peers! What if he be barks after busses and curses the F-Word in circle time!”
Get that fear a muzzle, because like your bad high school boyfriend, it lies like a rug. (For the record, less than 10% of T.S. kids uncontrollably curse. So let’s keep this worry in check and take it one step at a time, okay?)
Moms Survival Tactics
You consider getting ear plugs but figure good mothers would never avoid the sounds of their children. You berate yourself for finding excuses to fold laundry to avoid watching your daughter blink and jaw thrust over her chapter book.
One of the best mothers I know rearranged her house plants so she wouldn’t have to see her daughter nod her head over and over at the breakfast table.
Many people would call foliage adjustment poor parenting.
I call it brilliant. It’s a perfectly acceptable survival mechanism.
By now you’re not sure if I’ve completely lost my mind, but a small part of your brain is telling you that I might be making sense. You agree to try out a little patience but aren’t sure how to start.
How about right now?
Take a deep breath.
Tell yourself that for just this moment everything is going to be fine.
All you have to do is be your child’s mother – in whatever state he or she is in.
Tell yourself that you don’t have all the answers, but you’re going to try your best to take it one step at a time.
Take another deep breath.
And now allow me to share a little story with you as you take your first jaunt down that long and windy road of patience. This inspirational tale is one I heard long before my Nicky was diagnosed with Tourettes. On rough days for me– which at the beginning were every day – its encouraging message would soothe my brain like a good cabernet.
During the early days, a bad cabernet worked just as well. If you, too, find yourself drinking a bit more to calm down at the end of the day, you wouldn’t be the first frazzled mama to do so. But I encourage you to keep it in check. TS isn’t going away anytime soon. Does your ticking son really need to be flanked by a slurring mother hopped up on Two Buck Chuck? And really, it’s going to be hard enough to find time to cook healthier meals, schedule in more exercise, shop for supplements and fit in a meditation schedule. Combined with AA meetings, you’ll soon find yourself ticking, too. Careful, OK?
In my next post, I’ll get back to our regular scheduled programming of inspirational story telling.