Parent Blog: Living with teens
By: OnThe Cusp
Several years ago, I had the good fortune to hear Ellen Costello, MD and co-author of Quirky Kids, talk to my local Parent Teacher Organization. This was in the early days, when my son was young and being the parent of a differently-abled child was new, and scary. Ellen’s no-nonsense approach to the topic was a breath of fresh air.
We’re all quirky in a way, she explained. Later, it gets easier. Your child who screams because she hates sand in her toes, will as an adult choose not to go to the beach. The early years, she explained, are the tough ones.
And indeed they were. Playdates were few; appointments with specialists were plenty. I put on my sympathetic mask at school pickup, where stay-at-home moms would complain that their child was running them ragged between sports, after-school activities, and birthday parties. Eventually, I migrated over to the Other Moms, who were clustered in a tight group comparing notes on IEPs and therapy playgroups. My perfectionist nature was swallowed down to a deep, painful place within, as I cheerfully applauded the three spelling words that were right on the quiz and milestones measured by what wasn’t dropped or spilled. With time, my brittle smile gave way to genuine pleasure as I learned to appreciate all the small achievements, one by one.
Quirky kids are the brave ones. I often looked at the quote on my desk: “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. – Mary Ann Radmacher.” Now, my beloved quirky kid has evolved into a fine young man who makes me beam with pride. He has found his place in the world.
I still think about Dr. Costello’s lecture often. During the Q&A session those many years ago, one mother asked, how many of these kids are medicated? She thought for a few seconds, then replied, ‘Maybe half.’ Pause. ‘And virtually all of their mothers.’ There was a second of silence, then we all roared with appreciation and a sense of community. I left that evening feeling lighter than I had in months. The road ahead would be bumpy, but there would be plenty of laughter and support along the way.
OnTheCusp is a reluctant workaholic and Boston-based mother of two teenagers, whose dream is a daily walk on the beach to savor the sunrise