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To the Boys in the Restaurant I Caught Filming My Son With Tourette's

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“Shaking a little bit does not change someone’s personality. It doesn’t mean you won’t have a successful life. Having Tourette syndrome just means I move a little bit. It has been both positive and negative. I feel different, but I kind of like being different. Sometimes people stare at me and I’m embarrassed. It’s OK if they don’t know and I respect that, but staring makes me uncomfortable. Maybe if people knew more about TS they wouldn’t stare. I completely get that not everyone is going to understand it. But they could try and learn. I do know I’m really good at guitar. I love music. My favorite bands are The Beatles, Guns N Roses and Shinedown. Hard rock is my favorite. I want to be a rockstar and start a band or join a band. I just want to play lead guitar.”

These words came from my son. Life is not always easy for him, but he has a great attitude about it. I am sharing this for many reasons.

One of which is this:

The other day we picked up my husband for lunch on his break and tried to have a little family time. The restaurant was busy, and sometimes when places get crowded, it increases my son’s tics. His tics are mostly motor (hand shaking, blinking, tapping things), although he has a few vocal tics (whistling and occasionally a little crack in his voice). As we sat there, I noticed two older boys, probably 13-ish years old. They wouldn’t stop staring. They were sitting with whom I assumed to be their dad. My son noticed their eyes on him, which increased his anxiety. I just kept trying to distract him to keep him from focusing on them.

Mind you, I was ready to slap their dad. He did nothing to stop them. (I don’t condone violence, but I’m just being honest…)

As time went on, I noticed one of these boys had gotten his phone out and was recording my son. Mama bear was ’bout to have her porridge hot. I was fuming but didn’t want to embarrass my son by drawing even more attention. Luckily, we were in a booth and I laid him down on my lap and rubbed his back so he was out of their view. I wanted to lose it. I wanted to grab that phone out of that dude’s hand and throw it. It was hard, but I restrained myself in that moment. I was respecting my son. He is basically just a better person than I am.

Here’s my message to those boys at the restaurant:

Please know this… I know you have that video of my 9-year-old son. Keep it. Save it. Don’t delete it. Let it remind you of what you did to hurt someone that day in the restaurant. Your staring embarrasses him, but you are no match for his spirit. You see, my son is not sitting around staring at people and trying to record those who are “different” than him. He’s not going to run over to Instagram and show his friends someone else’s neurological disorder for fun and laughs. He is busy. He is busy practicing guitar, writing songs and working hard to overcome people like you. Seriously boys, keep your phones charged. Because one of these days when you are at a concert waiting for that band you’ve been wanting to see and you look up on stage… you’ll want to record him again. Trust me. He’ll be amazing. He’ll have worked to accomplish his dreams. My son has a photographic memory. He’ll most likely remember you and throw you a guitar pick. That’s just the kind of person he is. He has Tourette’s. It doesn’t mean he won’t be successful in life. It’s OK with him that he’s a little bit different. Nothing will stand in his way, especially some kids with a phone their daddy pays for. So maybe he shakes a little bit. So what? It doesn’t change his personality. He inspires me every single day. I truly in my heart hope somehow this story finds you and inspires you too. Maybe if you knew more about it, you’d understand. So try and learn, OK? Oh, and I’m not gonna lie… I still want to smack your dad.

Piece of advice: Keep that video, dude. It may be worth a lot of money someday.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 10, 2016
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