In a weird twist of fate, our charter school changed locations last year. Instead of being a harried 20-minute drive in L.A. traffic every day, the kids’ school reopened on an abandoned public campus 1 mile from our home.
I am now able to walk my kids to school most days. The conversations we have about the change in leaf color… the languid stops to pet the random passing poodle… the tight clutch of their hands in mine as we cross the one traffic light every morning… these little acts connect us as a family unit in ways I am forever grateful for.
The transition from the old school to the new one was not always so pleasant. Many mornings my kids didn’t get why I was making them walk instead of finish breakfast it the car. My son would dawdle. My daughter would forget her coat and complain of the cold. It took an adjustment to get used to our new routines.
It took a strong act of faith for them to know that, while they desperately missed the quaint location of their old campus, they would eventually embrace the new one. They now are used to their beautiful new school. The exterior has changed, but the heart of their developmental nurturing education remains strong and thriving.
It occurs to me, a I type this blog post today, that dealing with Tourette Syndrome has been quite similar. Like the old campus, I liked my son the way he was before the tics hit. The path for his life, like the hallways to my kids old classrooms, felt secure and safe. I knew where my son was headed. There was no fear of him getting lost in a dark scary corner.
TS challenged everything about my belief system. It made me angry. It made me despondent. It made me fearful. It scared the crap out of me.
“I don’t like this new path!” I’d cry to my husband every night, similar to how my children would react about their new school.
And yet, TS is not without its positives. It has forced me to grow up. It has made me go toe to toe with my unrealistic expectations of my son’s “perfect” life. It has forced me to choose how I want to live: in trembling anxiety or with courage and conviction.
I don’t always love TS, but I love my son. I might not be able to fix his tics, but I can fix my attitude about who my child is. And by having a new map – like the new walk to my childrens’ school – my son can feel confident in the very core of his being that his path, though more winding than expected, is beautiful, adventurous, and most of all: secure.