My 13 year old, Brady, went in to the orthodontist’s office this morning with plenty of anxiety and a lot of tics. I did not go in with her, which is pretty routine, as she was just having a retainer seated. As a result of her anxiety, she walked into the office making some sounds and ticked the word “Tourettes” a few times. She shook her hand, and the lady “jokingly” shook her hand just like Brady and said, “Heeeeeeey!”. It was not funny. She cried.
Brady has Tourettes. She also has been blessed with a warrior mother. Tourettes is hard to watch. It’s hard to deal with all the components of it – the obtrusive, debilitating-at-times anxiety, the OCD tendencies and obsessive thoughts, the learning challenges. Yet we fight through it.But what’s equally as hard to watch and deal with is the response from a world that knows NOTHING about Tourettes. And I guess I can’t fault them since, before Brady was diagnosed, I didn’t know much about it either.
But here’s what I DID know…I knew that when someone was making noises in public, I didn’t laugh at them. When I saw someone physically jerking or head turning or blinking, I didn’t stare at them like they were a sideshow act. And I for damn sure didn’t mock them, roll my eyes, or “jokingly” do it back. I have freaking common sense and compassion and a moral compass and human decency.
So I say all that to say…if you don’t know anything about Tourette’s (or any other disorder), take it upon yourself to learn. A quick Google search would at least give you some general info. If you don’t know how to behave around someone with Tourette’s (or any other disorder), ask them…or better yet…just do nothing. Just be. It’s ok to look, it’s even ok to ask, but it’s also ok to mind your damn business if you don’t otherwise know what else to do.
I learned a good lesson this morning. I learned that people can be jerks, especially when they’re ignorant about a disorder, even if they’re in the medical field. And I learned that next time we go, I will go in, too, and be her warrior. Brady is NOT the one to mock, and I am NOT the one to challenge.
I have since settled down. And please know that there is no need to comment your disparaging remarks about the person who treated Brady poorly. Their behavior speaks for itself. I don’t find it necessary to storm the doors of the place, write a scathing letter, or give a bad review. I am better than that, and I will address it in time.
Just please take a moment to either learn about such disorders, OR consider what your response will be when you meet someone different than you with some strange physical or vocal behaviors. We know there is childhood cancer, breast cancer, and autism. We are certainly “aware”, and I don’t mean to downplay those as they affect individuals and families horribly. But allow me to create a little Tourettes awareness, go to war for my beautiful girl, and not settle for a world that doesn’t know how to freaking handle it.
If neither Brady nor my 19 year old, Blake, never hear another word I say, I hope they listen when I tell them to NEVER wait around for the world to change. NEVER anticipate or hope for it. Be exactly who you are, be exactly what you want to be, and give off a light that absolutely blinds anybody not ready or not capable of appreciating you. You need nobody’s permission or approval to be who you are and do what you want to do. And I’ll always go to war for you.