My son has gone back and forth about wanting to talk about his ‘ticks.’
That’s what we call his Tourette’s and OCD in our house. They are simply known as ‘my ticks, Mom’ or ‘…because of my anxiety.’
So when a writing assignment came along in school this week- very innocently, just the usual daily few sentences with a writing prompt to get them going- he froze.
He tells me some kids were writing about beating bosses on video games. Something he has done over and over again and is very proud of.
He tells me some kids were writing about no longer being afraid of spiders, or in the case of one kid, getting ‘bumped’ by a shark.
You gotta love 4th graders.
And there sat my son, debating with himself back and forth and back and forth if he should tell his teacher or his class or anyone that every single day he battles and overcomes all the zigs and zags of his brain. His brilliant, sensitive, amazing brain that causes him to (currently) do everything in ’3s’ and mutter the last word of a sentience under his breath three times or hand wash and hand wash and hand wash or hand wash.
His ticks come and go with his anxiety level and he can control them very well with all the tools from our therapist. His ticks also change constantly. Sometimes they rotate and a new tick I’ve never noticed before is suddenly very prominent while another has faded. Some fade and never return. Others seem to be on a regular rotation. Regardless, he handles them with more grace and ease than any child should have to and he has zero shame or embarrassment.
At least, he didn’t. Until he began to mature and realize not everyone does what he does. Not everyone flaps their hands and jumps up and down while playing a video game, simply because it’s exciting. Not everyone covers their ears during a school play, because the cheers are too loud. Not everyone cries while looking out the window of an airplane, simply because the earth below is so beautiful.
Not everyone would take an in-class writing prompt home, so he could talk to his Mom about whether he should tell everyone he has Tourette’s.
I think they should know, but I’m not ready to really talk about it. I don’t want to give them a speech or anything. But maybe they won’t bug me so much then.
My stomach did a flip.
What do you mean ‘bug you’… has anyone said anything?
Well no, not really. But you know my friends they don’t care but some of the other kids might look at me and think I’m weird. You know Mom, I know I’m a wimp.
You are not a wimp. Why would you say that?
Well, I don’t mean that like a bad thing. I like video games and I’m not into like sports and stuff. And I’m a geeky wimp kind of kid, not like a kid that pushes other kids outside and plays those games where you punch arms and stuff.
There are LOTS of kids at your school like you buddy. LOTS. It’s great to have all kinds of friends and maybe it’s time to find some more of those kids that are like you.
But if I tell them about my ticks, they might think I’m even more weird.
Or maybe, they will better understand you and like you even more for who you are. But you can still write about anything you want honey. Anything.
…and he gets up and does this thing he does…his running from our front door to our back door. Something he just does that I’m sure is a tick, but we’re so used to it that it doesn’t register. He’s thinking. This is how he thinks. Sprints in my living room. Always having to touch the door a certain number of times. Always needing to ‘balance’ it out with exact same number of touches on the opposite wall.
Mom, I’m going to write it, but I’m not going to write a lot. My teacher might be the only one who sees it anyway, but maybe not. And maybe someone will ask me what I wrote. But I don’t want them to know too much. I will just write one thing about what I overcame and that’s it.
..and with that one thing, he took one very big step.