Have I mentioned how glad I am that The Boy is able to verbalize things so precisely at the age of six (and has been since like 18 months)? I'm so used to it that, at times, we rather take this advanced communication skill for granted.
Anyway, tonight - as usual - I was excruciatingly lazy when it came to dinner. So The Boy and I hopped in the car and drove the completely walkable distance to the nearby mall to get Subway subs from the food court. I had Lil' Bro time earlier in the day when The Boy was in school, so I took only The Boy this time. We walked through the open-to-the-sky mall way (well, The Boy ran, skipped, danced and I lumbered). As I stood in line and got our sandwiches, The Boy danced on the giant diagram of Texas on the center of the food court floor, asked me about where our town was, and then proceeded to squash us all with his giant feet (it wasn't that crowded and therefore this was "cute" as opposed to "obnoxious behavior"). This has nothing to do with the point of my story but it's a cute image in my head and I'm attempting to put it in your head with very little success.
On the walk back to the car, we were talking and just visiting. At one point, he started limping. I asked if the foot was ok and he said, oh sure, I was just kidding around. This may sound like I'm a wikkid buzz kill mom. But with The Boy's propensity for tics, we tend to lead him away from anything that could develop into a habit or tic. So I told him to be careful kidding around with limping or walking funny in any way as it could make his back or leg hurt (John Cleese would heartily disagree, I'm sure). Anyway, I just mentioned how that, even people without TS can give themselves bad habits that border on tics with enough repetition. [I'll aside here - I'm re-reading this and I sound like an alarmist idiot. But here's the reason. As a young kid The Boy's age, I was an attention hound. I would do anything I thought was interesting in hopes of making myself more interesting and worthy of the spotlight I craved. I remember once seeing a school mate who had this quick flick of the head - as if to clear nonexistent hair from his eyes. We all thought he was cool. I decided to affect his head flick. I, too, would be head-flicking cool. I wasn't cool. But I did it for enough days where, when I decided to stop? It was actually hard. It had already begun to head toward becoming a habit. So, I always think of how easy it is to start a physically repetitive habit without TS. I'm a freak. Sue me.] And the tangent is now over. So, back to my thought. We were talking about habits and possible tics and it suddenly occurred to me that The Boy's tics are still so minor and dismissible, it just makes me happy. So I said, you know what? I just realized that I hardly ever even notice tics in you lately. Just a couple and they seem really minor. He said, "Oh yah. Just this one," and he proceeded to do this little series of noises that remind me of his original verbal tic of "er-duh" and then sucking his breath in through his teeth but with the tip of his tongue between his front teeth. If that makes ANY sense. I said, yah, I've noticed that one but it doesn't seem to bother anyone. Do they notice it at school? No, he said. (Internal praise to God there!) I asked if he still feels the TS urges or if he even notices. Oh yes, he notices them. That's when he does the series of mouth noises. He was saying this all very matter-of-factly, very comfortable with the whole thing. Then - and here is the part I thought was interesting (long winded to get here, eh?) - he said, "Yah, my tongue and the roof of my mouth like to meet. I think that's where my 'er-duh' came from. It feels really good when my tongue does that," and he proceeded to do quite a few of the big former er-DUH sounds. I just thought that was really cool. I mean, it's a tiny insight for me into why he might choose one tic over another. I'm interested whether he will ever be able to similarly describe to me the feelings that may produce the exaggerated eye blinks & rolls. Or the Spidey-hands finger movements.
His mind never ceases to amaze me. I have read over and over of kids with TS that also have incredible talents - some have many. One young man my sister knows is an amazing pianist. My sister is an amazing pianist - classical and pretty much any other kind. She said, this kid can't play classical well or read music well. But he can play rag time like nobody's business. She said that it's like he is in another zone - just a genius at it. His hands fly over the keys. She said it's almost like he's a savant. I hear and read things like that a lot. Of course, as The Boy's mom, I think he's a freaking genius. But I'm his mom. He could be running around with a bucket on his head and I'd be like, "There goes Einstein!" But when he wants to play a card game he made up with US State flash cards? Or wants to make huge charts and tables in Word that correspond letters in the alphabet to interesting numerical patterns? Or when he comes into my bathroom when I'm showering and holds up his magna doodle to the glass of the stall so I can see his huge addition or multiplication problems he's doing? Yah, I'm diggin' it. If that's what he can focus on to keep the tics at bay someday, I will do everything in my power to encourage it. Even doing math in the shower.