My daughter Rachel is always teaching me something. I often feel like I’m learning far more from her than she ever learns from me.
Recently we were doing Best and Worst at the dinner table. This is when we go around the table and tell the best thing that has happened that day and the worst thing. When it was Rachel’s turn she said, “My Best and Worst are sort of the same tonight.”
Well, first, let me back up a little. Rachel’s Tourette Syndrome sometimes makes handwriting difficult for her. Imagine you’re trying to write as neatly as you can in cursive while your eyes are rolling, your shoulders are shrugging, your fingers are wanting to stretch, and you are clearing your throat and sniffing non-stop. Some days Rachel’s handwriting is really pretty and neat, but other days it’s a bit of a mess.
So Rachel’s teacher, before I explained about the TS/Handwriting connection, suggested that fourth-grade Rachel go in with the third graders for some extra handwriting practice two days a week to review some basics. When I did explain to the teacher about the TS and how it can affect handwriting, we had a long discussion about striving for excellence and setting high goals and not using TS as an excuse. We also discussed how setting unrealistic expectations can cause unbelievable frustration and spark some serious OCD tendencies. I won’t rehash that conversation with all of you, but I ended up talking with Rachel about it and allowing her to decide whether she wanted to go with the third graders for extra practice or not.
Because Rachel wants to strive for excellence and agreed that her handwriting could use some extra work, she decided to join the third graders those two days a week. So, this Best and Worst dinner conversation came on that first day she had gone with the third graders.
Rachel’s Worst that day: When I got up to go with the third graders, a couple boys said, “Where are you going? Are you a third grader?” And then they teased me and kept calling me a third grader and asking if I failed. And for the rest of the day, they said, “Hey, Third Grader!” It was no fun to be teased. That was the worst part of my day.
Rachel’s Best that day: I decided not to let it bother me that they were teasing me. I want to have pretty handwriting, and I know I need the extra practice. So I know I’m making the right decision. I just decided to ignore it, and I felt confident that I’m doing the right thing. So I guess that’s my Best — that I had confidence even when I was being teased.
I wanted to just not worry about the extra handwriting practice with the third graders. Knowing that Rachel cannot control her tics and figuring that the handwriting practice wouldn’t make a difference, I just wanted to avoid the whole situation. But Rachel chose the more challenging path. And she did it with confidence! Guess what my Best was that day!