“Is this really the same boy?” The question couldn’t escape my mind. I was sitting quietly by, watching my son move about. He was getting out his Civil Air Patrol blues uniform, rolling the dog hair that seems to be magnetic to those polyester pants, then running downstairs to iron…gasp, what is this?! IRONING his own clothes? He hopped in the shower—my goodness, I can remember when I had to practically force him into the shower! Once he was showered and dressed, he then methodically set about polishing his black shoes. Whatever happened to those days when he didn’t even know where to find his clothes?! Or even a couple of months ago hearing, “Mom, did you iron my uniform yet?”
Is this really the same boy? He asks me if any hair is touching his ears—yes, there are a few hairs. He insists that I cut them. He is taking great pride as he gets dressed and ready to stand before his patrol unit, recite their pledge and receive his first stripe for his first promotion. And I get to be part of this! I get to pin his first stripe on!
I can hardly believe that this is the same boy—perhaps if you knew a little about my background with my son, you would understand my feelings. For many years, Daniel suffered with Tourette Syndrome. If you are unfamiliar with this disorder, it causes uncontrollable facial and vocal tics. These began when he was around 6 or 7. Quite honestly, my husband and I always thought he was just being naughty. At church Christmas musicals he would stand up there and make these crazy faces—at first my husband and I would laugh but pretty soon we felt like crawling under the pew. We would ask him afterwards, “Why were you making those faces?” He would innocently ask, “What faces?” We assumed he was just continuing to be defiant. After all, he was born with a temper it seemed! Put it this way…one of the very first parenting books I read was James Dobson’s, “The Strong-Willed Child.”
By the time Daniel was 9, he had been officially diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. We finally understood what we were dealing with. Not only did Daniel suffer from this condition but he had an accompanying sleeping disorder. Eventually he was put on medication for this, as he would sometimes go up to 48 hours with no sleep. All of this was topped off with a nice touch of frequent raging. He would fly into these horrific rage attacks that could last for up to 2 hours. I remember times afterwards, lying on his bedroom floor with him, both of us crying.
By the time Daniel was ready to enter middle school, he was tired of being “different.” He didn’t want to be on medication and he didn’t want to deal with his emotions and his tics. It was at this time I began to steer him toward the Lord—I had been praying for him for years—but it was time for his relationship with the Lord to become something of his own. I encouraged him to seek God for healing. He did and by the time he was in the middle of his 6th grade year, he was completely off his medication, he no longer had sleeping problems, his tics disappeared and his emotions greatly calmed down.
Next month that same boy, who both suffered and brought about suffering, turns 15. If anyone had told me years back that Daniel would be the wonderful young man he is, I honestly don’t think I could have believed it.
It’s funny, though, how I look back on those years—when he was experiencing such difficulties I was home schooling him. One of the ways I was able to get through to him educationally was to put together mini units on topics that interested him…from the time he was 8 or 9, he was interested in the military, aircraft and past wars. Now he is serving in an organization that is part of the military (Air Force), an organization that teaches aviation and with that, also encompasses education on wars. Weather permitting; he will be flying in the front seat of a Cessna at the end of this month, having partial control of the plane. Right now his goal is to become a commercial airline pilot—he is well on his way. My point is that when I look back to those difficult times, I see how God used so much of that to make him into the wonderful young man that he is. We have both learned so much. However, the greatest lesson that I believe we have both learned is that God is faithful. God is good. God can be trusted. God has a purpose and a plan through every situation, every circumstance.
Our family needs this reminder, as we recently found out that our 11 year old daughter needs to have a biopsy done. However, maybe you needed this reminder, too…I hope our testimony will remind you of those very truths…