Saturday, March 23, 2013

Trials in Parenting and the amazing Brad Cohen.

A friend of mine sent me this link to watch a trailer called "Front of the Class". It is a Hallmark movie about a man with Tourrette's Syndrome  It is a true story of Brad Cohen who becomes a teacher! (I have attached the trailer at the end of this post.) As I watched it I was silent, I felt great admiration for this young man as he faced his disease with strength, courage, and a beautiful smile, I was also feeling sorry for him as a boy, feeling angry at his teachers for being mean to him and not understanding, feeling upset with those who were refusing to give him a job because of his tics. Then one scene sent me into sobs...literal, body shaking sobs... I tear up now as I even type about it. It is a clip from a scene where the dad yells at his son and tells him to "stop it!" Then you hear the man's voice, "I couldn't really blame dad for losing it. My tics drove him nuts." Such understanding! Such compassion this man has his for his father. Such a hard life as a child! 

I felt like I could relate in a tiny way. I have dyslexia. However, we (my parents and I and even teachers) didn't know this about me. I would study all the time. Often staying up with a flashlight and my text book under my covers so I wouldn't wake my sisters who were sleeping in the same room. I would ask for help, I would work so hard. All to barely pull off "C's" if I could. I was called stupid and lazy by everyone. They didn't understand. I started to believe I was stupid. I knew I wasn't lazy, so that left stupid, really stupid. I had the lowest self esteem and those feelings have taken so much from me. It wasn't until my senior year in high school that my history teacher figured it out. I was diagnosed and learned how to deal with it from a special counselor when I was in college. And what do you know? I got A,s and B,s all through college! Of course I still struggle, I always will. But as I was watching that trailer I started sobbing for two reasons. 

The first reason was because I felt I could really relate to this young boy and felt his pain. But the second reason and the more powerful one was, "I NEVER ever ever ever want B to feel like that!" I was overwhelmed with "how do I raise him?" I know what its like to be mocked and even yelled at for something that is not your fault and I never wanted anyone, especially my husband or I, to do that to our sweet B.

I will say that B is no where near the degree of tics that this man was in the movie. But there are many things B does that if he was a "normal" child I would be reprehending him for. There are many times when I have to exercise more patients with him. It is hard because some of the things I need to be patient with B for but if his younger brother, A, does the same thing I need to tell A that its not okay. Then that is just confusing to a 4 year old. Why does my 7 year old brother get to spin down the hall at church or jump up and down while I am holding mom's hand and she is talking to someone, or whatever, but I cannot? It has to be so confusing! 

This is my struggle right now. How do I parent these children when one of them has TS? Our older two children, N (14 year old son) and T (almost 12 year old daughter) are older and thankfully they understand. They get it and are very sweet and understanding... most of the time. But even then I have had to remind them to be patient with B and remind them that he cannot help it. I have to be understanding with the older two because they are not intentionally being "mean" or "bossy", it is just a natural thing to want to tell a kid to "stop it" when they are seeming so hyper and out of control. It can be "annoying". But I hate that as well. And how do I help the youngest, sweet A, understand that his older brother cannot help it and even though he gets away with doing certain things it is not alright to do them too. 

And B, he is the one I worry over the most. How am I suppose to know what is always a tic and what is a 7-year-old-typical-boy-behavior that needs to be corrected? When do I correct him? How do I correct him? I want him to grow up to be a kind, smart, responsible, talented, thoughtful, considerate, successful man someday. I want him to continue to develop social skills so that he will continue to be liked and have friends and have a happy life. Our B seems to be loved by everyone! It is amazing to watch that kid make friends and to watch how people, young and old, just love to be around him. He radiates joy! And I think that is a great blessing that his Father in Heaven has given him to help him not only "through" this trial but also to "thrive" through it. 

It is hard though. I never thought that I would have to second guess every parenting decision no matter how small. I just really hope I don't mess this up... for any of our four children. I love them all sooooo much!!!

Here is the trailer:
Here is a neat CBS story on it which shows the real Brad Cohen and talks about his mother. I wish I could talk TO his mother!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Information is good.

Most people do not understand what Tourette Syndrome is. Here is a great site that explains it for kids.