Here is a fascinating story from the introduction 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!
One of my favorite all time stories about special needs is called “Welcome to Holland.” I took the liberty of adapting it for my experience with Tourettes.
One day a family of five boarded a plane headed for London. It was winter, which meant their luggage was filled with sweaters, thick wooly socks, mittens and scarves. The mother, who had dreamed of this vacation ever since she had children ten years prior, had planned out the entire trip in painstaking detail. They would have tea near Buckingham Palace after shopping at Harrods. They would tour the Tate and take a family Christmas photo in front of Big Ben. They would catch a show in the West End and go to mass at St. Paul’s.
After two hours on the plane, she looked over at her three children who had magically fallen asleep in the seats between herself and her handsome husband. She grabbed her mate’s strong hand, smiling at how perfectly everything had fallen into place.
At one point the captain’s voice streamed over the P.A. system. “Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for flying with us today. Due to some unexpected orders from the ground crew, this plane will no longer be flying to England. We will be changing directions entirely and landing in Africa. I can’t give you much information other than we cannot alter our course. You will have no choice but to make the best of the new arrangement. We’re not sure when we’ll be able to get you back home but you all seem like capable people who can wing it just fine. So, with that in mind, enjoy your new destination!”
Understandably, the mother was horrified at this news. Her husband remained cool and collected. She was both grateful, and horrified, that he wasn’t as freaked out as she was. How could he be so calm??! How could this enormous error happen? She wasn’t prepared for this abrupt switch of plans! This was not the way her dream vacation was supposed to go! The remainder of the flight was spent in abject misery as she ruminated, sulked, cried, moaned, hollered and generally cursed her fate.
By the time the plane landed, she was in quite a quandary. While this was one of the most unsettling experiences of her life, she also knew that falling apart would not help anyone. She’d have to be strong for the kids. She’d have lean on her husband when she could. But mostly, she’d have to lean on herself. She’d attempt to make the best of it. What choice did she have?
Once on the ground, the luggage never arrived. Everyone was sweltering in their woolen sweaters and itchy pants. What could she do? She borrowed a pair of scissors from a ticket agent and cut off the sleeves which they used as headbands. She took the scissors to their pants, made makeshift shorts and hailed a taxi.
As this disheveled family of five crowded into a cab, the driver had a good laugh at their outfits. It turns out he spoke English and asked what happened. Against her normally private nature, she told him. He invited her family home to his home and she said yes. Clearly she needed help and couldn’t rely on herself anymore.
For the next two weeks, her family did not shop. They did not tour museums. They did not eat at restaurants.
They ate home cooked meals around a plain wooden table with the taxi driver’s wife, her sisters, their kids and 20 other people with names she could barely pronounce on Day 1 but by Day 20 knew as well as her own family’s names.
The kids ran around barefoot with children who didn’t speak their language but sure knew how to laugh.
Her husband helped re-upholster the taxi driver’s car which earned the family some extra money which they turned around and used for goodbye feast when the time came to finally fly back home.
With bellies full of food and hearts full of gratitude, they said their tearful goodbyes and boarded the plane. As they flew back, the mother couldn’t help but think that Africa was a far cry from England. It wasn’t as civilized. It wasn’t as comfortable. But it was exotic. It was different. And her family bonded more in that two-week unplanned adventure in an African village than they ever would have in a pristine London hotel.
That mama, despite feeling like she was going to drown in despair, faked a good attitude until a true, authentic joy bubbled up from the pit of her soul. Despite signing up for it, she made the best of it and had an adventure of a lifetime.
You will, too. Grab your TS passport. TS is an adventure. It might seem scary, but let this book be your road map.
Let me be your tour guide. Let my story serve to remind you that you’re not the first to take this scary trip. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but I promise you’ll land safely with your child in tact.
Buckle your seatbelt. It’s time to Happily Tick Off.
In my next blog, I’ll give you all of Chapter 1. Stay tuned!