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About the book
...and my family

Passionate About Inclusion & Diversity

My husband Rickie and I have been married for (coming up on) 12 years, and we've been together for 14. Together, we have accomplished a L O T and have learned a lot about each other and what it takes to stay happily married. I've learned that we not only have cultural differences, but also enjoy different pastimes, and different things fill (and deplete) our energy tanks.

Rickie and I have three beautiful children together: Cameron (9-year-old boy), Remi (4-year-old boy), and Alea (2-year-old girl). We've learned a lot as parents, but most importantly, we've remained as open-minded and teachable as we can while we learn our children together.

 

Let's take a stroll down memory lane back to early 2015. Cameron was diagnosed with Sprengel's deformity and Klippel-Feil syndrome and had surgery to help repair his scapula. In 2017, Cameron was still an only-child, Rickie was active duty in the Air Force, and I had just gotten hired to work at an amazing church. Rickie and I had been married for five years, and I was a part of a community group with some amazing women in it. These women offered to watch Cameron for me while Rickie was TDY, working late at work, or while I had church functions. Cameron was the perfect first child. He slept through the night pretty much since birth, he ate well, and was very well-behaved at home.  He met all major developmental milestones, but as he got older, something about the way he interacted in small groups seemed off.

 

We started to get phone calls from his daycare because of aggressive behavior. The ladies who watched him for me began to tell me similar stories. At church, he would misbehave while he was being cared for. These experiences kept getting more and more frequent, and Rickie and I started to wonder what was "wrong" with our son. We enrolled him in occupational therapy, play therapy, counseling, and everything we could think of to help him. He graduated out of all the programs, seeming to make significant progress while being 1-on-1.

When Cameron was in first grade, his teacher advocated more for him than anyone I had ever interacted with. She had constant communication with me about his behavior, and she lovingly told me that Cameron was different. She said, "Chelsea, I don't care if you're able to get an appointment on a Saturday. I'll be there for him. To explain to the doctor what I'm experiencing." Another lady at church (with extensive experience working with special needs children) mentioned the same thing.

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Through both of their recommendations, we got Cameron tested for ADD, ADHD, and did an initial screening for Autism. He tested on the spectrum with ADHD, and also borderline ASD. In 2022, we took him for further evaluation for ASD, because we continually noticed his interactions amongst other kids to be "different." He tested as having Aspberger's syndrome, which - all the puzzle pieces started to come together to make a beautiful picture of who Cameron Malique truly is.

 

As a full-time working mom in ministry, I missed the mark *often* when it came to extra things - Tooth Fairy responsibilities, dress-up days at school, birthday parties on the weekends, etc... There was a time that Cameron lost his tooth, and I wasn't there for it. I have early days and long nights, so fast forward a week, and Cameron mentioned that the Tooth Fairy still hadn't come.

My internal monologue at that moment:

*Gulp* Ummmm... Ah, I know!!

"She's quarantined!" No, that's overused.

"She's on vacation!" I mean... I guess I could say that, but where do Tooth Fairies vacation? We live in Florida - vacation central. Ugh, no can't use that.

{Insert more thoughts here...}

It was at that moment that my brain kept working on that question. How DO Tooth Fairies know when children lose their teeth? I don't think I had ever heard that story before. And thus, the Bristle Whistle was born.

But, for me, it's more than a story about the Tooth Fairy. It's a tribute to Cameron, who has adapted and overcome being neurodivergent. My husband, who is African American, is part of an underrepresented and under appreciated group of people. There aren't very many children's books that portray active African American fathers in them. Rickie is an amazing, active, and present father, and I also want to give tribute to him. He also deserves credit as the greatest support system I have.

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