Normal is a four letter word. Extraordinary is the new black.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

All about our first teacher

Sometimes on a rainy weekend day, when there are no big plans on deck, I just sit and be. I wonder sometimes how many of us can sit and be anymore. Do we really have ten million places to be all the time or do we just think that we need to have ten million places to be?

Here, at camp bliss, there is so much going on when there is nothing going on. The morning usually starts with one or two of the little (sometimes big) munchkins crawling into our bed to start the day. This morning our 11 (almost 12) year old, made an appearance in the morning cuddle. I love that he is that kid that still will crawl in with us in the morning. That he still needs those cuddles. My hubby and I often talk about how to keep his heart soft and yet still make sure that he is armed with all that he needs for the world.

He is growing up. It's thrilling, and beautiful, and scary and emotional all at the same time. He is this amazing spirit. So stubborn. So sure of himself and yet terrified and always looking back to make sure that we are standing right there in case he needs us.

His past few years have been filled with so much. His entry into the world of the pre-teen was kicked off by an increasing intensity in the tics that he has always had. After a few convulsive days we finally decided to get officially confirmed what we already knew, which was our monkey has Tourettes.

When I went to school, in grade 11, there was a boy in my English class that had Tourettes. I didn't know it at the time. I knew that he fidgeted a lot and that he grunted and cleared his throat often. One day, he was absent, it was then that the teacher took a minute to explain to us that this kid had Tourettes and that he couldn't control those sounds and movements and we needed to understand and not make him feel outcast.

All I could remember thinking was, "Wait a minute, he doesn't swear." I couldn't understand why he was labelled with this thing. My knowledge of Tourettes was that small sliver of misinformation, which the media had done such a good job turning into the definition of a complex neurological disorder.

So, here's the thing. At the time, being a kid, I had no idea what to do. I was sad for the kid. I thought, "What an awful affliction." The 17 year old me understood nothing of the idea that what makes us imperfect in this world does not define us. In fact it is in owning and welcoming that which makes us unique, which makes us extraordinary.

Our little monkey, he is all about owning it. He is comfortable in the shoes he was given to walk this world. He gets that in the big picture, he is crazy blessed. How to have him continue to hold that close as we stand on the edge of his elementary years, overlooking the start of middle school. Hmmm there's the challenge.

Until then, we will celebrate the whole of him. Tourettes is not a definition of who he is, but rather a small part of his whole. He is a talented little man, who loves to sing, dance and act. He has a sense of humor and a passion for all things Star Wars. (The Star Wars thing might be genetic.) He is creative, loving and so kind. He is a stubborn little man, who knows his own mind and will fight his own corner hard, so hard sometimes that he can not hear the other side regardless of how loud the opponent shouts. He gets carried away, he gets loud, he laughs with abandon, he has friends that he has grown up with that are right there with him every step of the way. We are so lucky to have him.

Being his mom, he has taught me to persevere, through anything. He has taught me that what other people think, have no bearing on who I am or who he is. He has taught me patience and to see the world from an angle that I would never have looked from if I hadn't met him. Being his mother has made me a better parent, but it has also made me a better person.

Before kids, people always said that they learn more from their kids than their kids learn from them. I didn't get it. Isn't the job of the parent to teach their child? Becoming a parent revealed a truth, yes, we are here to teach, but we are also here to listen, to provide the guide rails for them to bump along on their journey to adulthood. We are there to pick them up and dust them off, to cheer them on and to love them unconditionally. While we are doing all that, they are teaching us.