Yesterday was my elementary school reunion. The school hosted the reunion since we're all seniors now and will be off to college next year. I knew seeing my elementary school friends would bring back a lot of memories, some of which were not pleasant memories. As i've mentioned before in previous posts, I was bullied in elementary school because of my tics by two boys, but still had 3 or 4 close friends. With my close friends I made excuses. When I was sniffling a lot, I had a "sinus infection" or a "cold" or it was just my usual "small sinuses". When I squeaked or squealed so much at sleepovers that my friends started to get annoyed, I was "stretching my voice" or "being silly". When I grabbed at my crotch area, I ignored the looks and the rude comments from the bullies because there was no good excuse for that one. There were a lot of unpleasant memories and I just thought I was a really weird or annoying kid.
Since elementary school I haven't seen many people from the class really. I may have run into them once or twice and I spent some time with my close friends from elementary school as well in 7th and 8th grade but that was pretty much it. So this was my first time seeing them really with a diagnosis and a knowledge of what was going on with me all those years in elementary school. It was the first time I could be around them, be ticcing, and not have to think that I was this really weird or annoying kid.
I was doing a fair amount of ticcing at the reunion, particularly my facial tics like eye rolling or mouth opening, but not a whole lot of vocal tics or any major tics that would draw a lot of attention. I just let myself be me though without having to feel bad about which was just pretty incredible considering all the pain I endured in elementary school with these same people. The two boys that had bullied me didn't actually show up though. I don't blame them at all for not wanting to show up. One was held back a year in high school and the other was kicked out of his school for sending out threatening e-mails to the entire school. Goes to show you what kind of people are the bullies and what kind of things they end up doing later on in life.
I had a lot of fun catching up with my old teachers from elementary school and catching up with my friends as well. It was neat hearing where they were all going to college and what they've been up to! My friend who always wanted to be a fashion designer since 4th grade is going to a fashion design school in Chicago and my friend who was always so smart is going to Cornell. We all reminisced on old memories of how we used to ask each other about our pets when we had nothing to talk about, old songs we were forced to sing in music class, and our class trip to Chicago.
We all ate lunch and sat outside on the front lawn of the temporary school building because the building recently had a small fire in the attic and has to be repaired. The ironic part was that when we stepped in the building, I immediately recognized it as the place where I had OT (Occupational Therapy) for my Dysgraphia and Sensory Processing Disorder back in 3rd and 4th grade.
Also another thing was that my friend Sabrina actually brought up a time from elementary school when I was ticcing. We were talking about our class trip to Chicago and I couldn't remember who I roomed with so I asked my friend Sabrina if she remembered. Sabrina did remember and said that I shared a room with our friend Kelly who had later the next day told Sabrina she was slightly annoyed with me because I had been "stretching my voice" so much. I was surprised that she actually remembered this, because I didn't even remember it that well. I guess I have vague memories of it, but I can't even remember if I was doing it in the morning or at night or how Kelly reacted at the time. I guess it was just normal for me, so it wasn't too memorable at the time. Sabrina is the only one in the group who actually knows that I have Tourette's so I guess it all makes since to her now. I got a few stares when I was ticcing from the other kids who were in the class, but hey i'm used to that. They stared once or twice then got over it. For the most part, no one gawked or asked questions, but I wasn't even ticcing half as bad as I do sometimes.
We rapped the reunion up with trying to replicate our 6th grade class picture with the people who were there. The whole class didn't show up, but there were certainly enough people there to replicate the picture pretty well. And we all got Alumni society cups! After the reunion was over my group of friends from elementary school decided that we all wanted to go get smoothies. Three of my friends rode in one car, and I rode with Sabrina. As i've mentioned before, car rides set my tics off, but since we were talking and trying to navigate our way to the smoothie place my tics didn't get that bad. I did a few vocal tics in the car and the first time I did a vocal tic, Sabrina said "That didn't really sound like a sneeze? Was that a sneeze?". I told her that no it was not a sneeze but I was having a good time and didn't want to dwell on it or get into a conversation about it so I quickly changed the subject.
We ended up getting lost thanks to the great map program on my iphone, lol. But we eventually found our way to the smoothie place. We were a little later than the other three girls, but we still got there with plenty of time to get smoothies and hang out. I got a raspberry smoothie that was too sour, but I didn't really care because I was just having fun catching up with Sabrina and the rest of my friends from elementary school. Since I had been on the car drive, my vocal tics were still acting up a bit and I was doing some vocal tics in the smoothie store.
When I did tic, no one really reacted except for one girl who I wasn't really ever that close of friends with. I assume that means that the rest of them had some idea about my Tourette's from some of my video shares on facebook and from other kids who were in our class who know now. The girl that didn't know though said "What was that? That was really adorable!" and she started laughing a bit. I just laughed along with her and instead of giving her an explanation I just moved on to the next subject. I didn't really feel like explaining since I probably wouldn't hardly ever see her in the future and I didn't want to put a damper on the mood or anything with a serious topic like Tourettes. Hey don't get me wrong, I educate a lot of people about Tourette's and usually take the times I tic as an opportunity to educate and explain about Tourette's, but I do pick and choose when is the time to educate and when is the time not to educate.
Overall, I had a really great time at the reunion!! I loved seeing all my friends from elementary school, catching up, and reliving old times. Most of all, I loved not having to feel like "that weird annoying kid" that I always used to feel like. Instead I just was able to be myself which meant being okay with the fact that I ticced around them and not even feeling it necessarily to give the whole Tourette's explanation as a way of explaining that I really wasn't just a weird annoying kid. I knew inside of myself that I wasn't just a weird and annoying kid. I know I have Tourette's and that my tics are just part of me and that's what really matters in the long run.