Born Fabulous

Episode 13, Part 5 - Interview with Jeannie Harris - Stories from Tim's Place, Friendships, Advice, and Golden Nuggets

June 20, 2019 Season 1 Episode 13
Born Fabulous
Episode 13, Part 5 - Interview with Jeannie Harris - Stories from Tim's Place, Friendships, Advice, and Golden Nuggets
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Born Fabulous
Episode 13, Part 5 - Interview with Jeannie Harris - Stories from Tim's Place, Friendships, Advice, and Golden Nuggets
Jun 20, 2019 Season 1 Episode 13
Greta Harrison / Jeannie Harris
Jeannie Harris shares stories, advice, and tips learned from her loving journey with her son, Tim Harris.
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Jeannie Harris gives great parental insight into the life of her son Tim Harris. She shares stories from his restaurant, talks about friendships, gives advice, and much more. Jeannie's son Tin owned his own restaurant, Tim's Place, for five years. He is now a sought after public speaker. Tim happens to have Down syndrome. 

Speaker 1:
0:01
Hello, my name is credit Harrison. Welcome to born fabulous where we speak with parents and accomplished individuals who just happen to have disabilities. You're about to hear episode 13 which is the last part of a five part interview with Jeannie Harris. This is also the last episode of season one. Janie is the mother of Tim Harris. Tim is famous for owning Tim's place or restaurant that listed free hugs on the menu. Tim currently has a very successful public speaking career. He is 33 years old and has already had a very exciting life full of travel and meeting wonderful people like president and Mrs. Obama as separate events. Tim happens to have down syndrome. Jenny is a retired former business owner. She and her husband of 38 years. Keith have four sons. They love to travel often a sailors. Ginny calls herself a student of life. We met at one of Tim speeches six years ago now. Please enjoy this clip of love as a potion. The lyrics are written by Melissa Regio who was the focus of episodes one through four the music and voice or by Rachel Fuller.
Speaker 2:
1:08
[inaudible] [inaudible].
Speaker 1:
1:50
So now let's talk about the weight challenge because when I saw him speak, he had lost a significant amount of weight and that wasn't easy and he was very proud of it.
Speaker 3:
2:01
You should be proud because, um, you know, a lot of people may or may not know this, but people with down syndrome actually have a lower metabolism than the normal population. And so for Tim and our kids to lose that weight and to maintain that weight, they have to have a focus and they have to have really strong intentions. And um, it's, it's, he actually is, he, he knows himself well enough to know that he's not going to do it on his own. So he has to get himself workout buddies and works with trainers who will really push him because he won't quite push himself. He, he actually almost has to get people who are, you know, you, you, you picture the picture of the commercial of the woman leading this spin class, who you go into a spin class and it's all casual and then the door slammed closed and the lights and they're all on her.
Speaker 3:
3:00
And she's like, all right, we're going to ride now. You know? And like that's the kind of what Tim almost needs to keep himself motivated and eating is so hard. You should have seen when he had the restaurant, we had a menu, like we said, this is what Tim can eat. He can eat off the menu. And then we had to tell him, don't tell customers that you don't, you have to admit you. Because he would say, oh yeah, I can't eat that. That's not healthy. He would tell him and we're like, no, Tim, it, it's just the, it's not healthy for you because if you eat that every day, you're going to gain your weight back. You know,
Speaker 1:
3:40
he lost like 70 pounds, right?
Speaker 3:
3:42
Lost 70 pounds. He's put about, he's put about 30 back on. And, um, and man, it's scary because he puts it on fast. Like when we left to go, we went to travel and we left like around Halloween and we came back and he put on 15 to 20 pounds and he puts it on that fast, but it doesn't come off that fast. So He's struggling in it and it bothers him to always have to be worried about what he can eat and can't eat. And it breaks my heart because he, he's constantly thinking about it, but he's also constantly feeling bad because he'll do stuff and go out, get a buddy to go out and who will eat a hamburger and French fries with him and he's going, why we're celebrating with my buddy. So I had to do this. But then he feels bad and I hate seeing that. But yet I want him to put some pressure on himself to keep the weight down for his health and wellbeing.
Speaker 1:
4:42
Well, it's, it's a struggle that many people share. I don't think everybody with down syndrome has, has the loan, the lower metabolism. But I think it's probably more common is, is maybe more common, but people like to keep them. And once you own a restaurant that's kind of that, that, and he was speaking and in very good shape when he had that restaurant. So that's a testimony there.
Speaker 3:
5:08
Yeah. He had a really tough trainer when they first opened the restaurant.
Speaker 1:
5:12
He had some, he had some guns, didn't he have some guns? He would show us his muscles.
Speaker 3:
5:16
Yeah, the local basketball game a couple of years ago. And they had that muscle can, you know, and they felt that the camera caught Tim and he rolled up his sleeves and wait. My friend knows that the game was, she looked and she goes, oh my God, he's crying. He's got python's. It's pretty strong. Beautiful story in the restaurant. I have to tell you, because he was really buff. Like he's, he needs to get it back right now. He's a little, he's got that 15 pounds on him. He was really bad. There was a beautiful moment. We had some friends, they brought, um, they, they brought some people in who just had a newborn with down syndrome and the newborn was still in the hospital, couldn't gain weight and muscle tone was so low, wasn't eating well. And they brought that dad into Tim's restaurant and he was talking to my husband and he's like, they, they can't get them to eat.
Speaker 3:
6:16
And Tim had a little trouble eating at first, he lost weight his first month because of low muscle tone. And so my husband was telling him that story and how, you know, things that we had struggled with, with Tim having to do with low muscle tone when he was born. And then Tim comes up behind his dad and does this tap on the shoulder and then ducks around like that. Tim has a sense of humor, which has been really fun. And um, and Tim goes, or Keith, my husband goes, hey Tim, come here for a minute. He goes, okay. And he goes, well, up your sleeves. So he rolls up his sleeves, he goes, show your muscles. And he's like, I mean, he was at the prime. And the dad just, he opened his eyes and he looked at my husband and he said, my son's going to do that. You know, it just like, it gave him this hope like that's, I'm going to do that with my son right there. You know,
Speaker 1:
7:11
we need to have role models. Yeah, we need role models.
Speaker 3:
7:14
How did you and Tim did come from that place? I cried and cried because they told me to stop nursing him because he was losing weight and what was happening. His muscle tone was so low that it was just leaking down the side of his face that was part of it. And that he wasn't getting enough section. So I, they made me start giving him a bottle cause he said he can't continue to lose weight. And of course at that time they're still watching for heart things and things like that. And um, and I just cried and cried. And finally the doctor said, look, just in nursing first, but then you have to give them a bottle. And so I did. And then a month later I got to get rid of the bottle. Right. But you know, it was just one of those things for me that I thought, oh he's, he's got so much stacked against him right now. At least he should be able to nurse. Right. And so you just figure out what's important to you and you stick to it. And that story was really important for that young dad to hear. Like there's Tim, fully vibrant, strong, he had a similar beginning, you know,
Speaker 1:
8:26
and a business owner and business owner and a business owner, world famous. So we've talked about um, Tim's network that he's got a lot of friends, but a lot of people, a lot of parents have shared with me and I've seen this too, that it can be harder to make friends. Um, was there anything special that you all did to help with that? Or is it the Tim found or was it really just his magnetic, what? Talk about that journey if you could. Because it is hard for a lot of individuals with disabilities to make friends.
Speaker 3:
9:04
It is, and sadly when I see Tim has fresh, he has some friends who have disabilities. Like, cause they're on the same special Olympics team or whatever. But he doesn't get together with them. No, they, Tim uses Uber but I don't know any of the others that do like could they meet at the, at a restaurant and have dinner or can they go to a movie or something, you know. So when I say Tim has friends and he gets out and does socialize Scott, people with disabilities on a regular basis, if I help set it up, it is right. So there's a, there's a gap there. Again, I think for, for parents though, it is about like making sure that you do the things that just having them do whatever you and your family are doing and setting those expectations that they join in, that they belong, that they join in the conversation, get them to look you in the eye when they're talking to you.
Speaker 3:
10:05
And I'm talking about young kids, like when Tim speech finally started clearing up a little bit better by high school, for instance, the speech therapist came to me in and said, you know, I still have, I have some time with Tim and you know, I can continue doing some of the things that I've been doing, but is there anything else you want? And I said, yeah. I said, people are starting to understand him more clearly now. How about working at his conversation skills? Like getting them to converse back and forth. Look you in. Don't look down to look up, um, to shake hands. You know, the things that signal to other people that you're open to talking, right. Just and that's just starts. It starts at a young age. Start expecting it.
Speaker 1:
10:53
Now when I was talking about friends, I meant disabilities or, or typical developing people didn't have to be either or. They have missed a lot of people have trouble making any friends. So the fact that Tim has so many friends who don't have disabilities, was there any magic formula that you can remember or was it really his personality? It's, it's, it's his
Speaker 3:
11:17
personality and his drive. It's, he's got a drive to be with people and then, you know, his, his restaurant, those skills, like with five years at that restaurant and then the subsequent years of going out in public and giving speeches and interacting with people, it's, it's just grown. So all I can say is to the level that, that your child is comfortable with. I mean, tunes an extrovert. I, I wouldn't tell you to take an introvert and try to do, make them do things that they're not comfortable doing. So it has to be what they're comfortable doing. But an introvert needs a one on one friend, right. To get together with and, or go to a movie with or, um, and, and Tim doesn't, it's, it's really hard for me. Like even today when he starts hanging out with some, some, some of the people with disabilities I started hanging out with, I'll have their mother will call me and say, oh, um, so do you think it would be okay if Tim comes over to our house for dinner and then we're going to hang out? And, and I have to tell them, well, you have to call Tim like I and, but I, but at the same time, I'm trying to be really gentle because that's their life that they have at their daughter's ability. And I don't want a question
Speaker 4:
12:41
like
Speaker 3:
12:43
I want to, I want them to see that Tim establishes his own schedule and does his own thing and it's, but loves to do stuff with their daughter. But you got to call him and set it up. I'm sorry, I'm not answering your question. It's been difficult, um, in that I would like to see him have more friends
Speaker 4:
13:07
mmm.
Speaker 3:
13:08
With disabilities, doing things as independently as he is. But I know that that's not always possible.
Speaker 1:
13:16
Well, hopefully it gets more possible every day. We have to think, we have to think that way. Right. But, um, you know, you just touched on something and I wanna I want to talk about that a minute. Uh, because I have a, I have a good friend, she has a daughter with autism and her daughter's a good friend of my daughter's and she's constantly reminding me of that too. You know, if there's a party or a birthday party or whatever, ask, because now we're talking about adults. They're eight, they're above 18 years old. So ask the young person, the young adult if they want to go instead of always going through their parents. So it's about what we were talking about. Yeah.
Speaker 3:
13:57
Anyway, your point is really good about like looking at the level of where your child or young adult is and if you have to arrange for them to get together with friends, do that, but include them in that, you know, look at where they're at as far as like what would you do? Like if you had, if you broke your foot and you couldn't like get in your car and drive to the restaurant to meet your friend.
Speaker 4:
14:23
MMM.
Speaker 3:
14:25
What would you do if you wanted to go out to meet your friend? You'd find an accommodation, right? You, you have them come and pick you up or you'd have someone drive you and pick you up. You'd get the help where you need it, but you wouldn't have to have somebody call your friend for you to say, Hey, Greg, I wants to have lunch with you today. Can you meet her at such and such a time? Right. So it's breaking that down. I think that's a, I think you're right about just look at where they are. Right. It's a good
Speaker 1:
14:52
reminder you're, you're bringing up. Sometimes it's the little things like that and encouraging our young adults to do that to, to gain their independence, so,
Speaker 3:
15:02
right. Yeah. And at the same time, you can still be the, the watch tower. Yeah. And I will be honest with you, we've had to do that with Tim when I, he's out there in the world and he's doing really well. He's very independent. He, he lives on his own and his own apartment, he pays his bills, he gets his groceries, he cooks his food. He's getting better at that. Had a restaurant for five years, so we didn't have to do, um, but he, and he needs help with budgeting and with money. And you know, there's areas in his life where he needs help. Um, but, but that didn't all just happen at once. We broke it down and we said, here's where we're at now, here's where we're going next. And the college did help a lot with that.
Speaker 1:
15:50
Okay. I want to ask you, what do you think, we talked about Tim's goals and dreams, but let's look at 10 years from now. Where do you, he's, he's 33. Um, when we're recording this, he's about to turn 33. So, um, 10 years from now he would be 43. What, what do, what do you envision?
Speaker 3:
16:19
Ooh, that's a tough question because, um, we're at a, we're at an interim period here where, um, he's still, there's still demand for his speaking and maybe there still will be. Um, I personally would like to see him married. Um, I would like, I personally would like to, um, have him pursue his dream of, of a business, whether it's a microbrew or whatever, but something that is, um, he needs to be in the public. He needs to be engaged with people. And, um, I really would like to see him, that business be successful in self supporting and to be honest with you at age 43, I, I don't want him to need me or his dad anymore. Just
Speaker 5:
17:20
okay
Speaker 3:
17:20
to be our son. That's all that, that we have something in place or through his brothers or whatever. We have something in place right now for what happens to Tim if we're gone. Um, but the fact that he can and will live independently, we could, you know, knock on wood, no serious injury or, or health issues happen. But if that's not the case that he's still living on his own, hopefully with his wonderful wife. Um, I don't have a picture of where he lives because um, I think if he needs the right person, he would be happy to live anywhere. He, he really is looking and I want him to have that because he wants it. Okay. Any, you know, I have to echo this is those are the drinks we want for all our children. Right. Exactly. All our children and even the watch tower, that doesn't go away. My 30 year old doesn't know that you're still watching. So what was the best advice you ever received?
Speaker 4:
18:36
Hmm.
Speaker 3:
18:38
Well, the first one was, um, the first, the first one was Tim needs a mom that a therapist let, let them do that job.
Speaker 4:
18:50
MMM.
Speaker 3:
18:53
I think, and this was not specifically aimed at Tim, but the best, the best advice that I've ever received as a mother was don't be afraid to tell your kids no. And mean it. [inaudible] you're the adult, they're the child and that includes your child with a disability. You are, I was told that I was crippling him if I didn't put limits and tell him no and have expectations for him. Oh, that's true. Jess, like is true for all your children, all of them. All of them. What, what advice would you give? You know, I've thought about this and yes, to makes a living out of being the center of attention and getting attention, but I think that, um, when I look at his growing up that like, and I'm not saying to never secretly or whatever, um, have a little, do a little happy dance inside. But I found that I celebrated things that Tim was doing that were ordinary things for somebody else, like, like standing up and walking or climbing up on a table or being able to ride his bike. And I think that like our kids become somewhat self centered when we give them accolades or extra praise for doing ordinary things. And that's not to say to encourage them to compliment them, but this over celebration of things like I didn't celebrate that with my other sons that they, you know, uh,
Speaker 3:
20:55
like it's like putting praise on something that maybe you didn't ever expect them to do, but watch, watch how you do it because it's like they become to expect that. And I think that there will becomes a little bit me centered and I think that can be a little bit, um, a little bit of a takeaway in, in those social settings that we're talking about. Like as they grow up to be out there in the workplace or with friends. It's, it's um, I think it's really important to have a good, healthy balance of give, expecting some give and take instead of just giving them all this praise. Does that, that it's definitely as clearly as I wanted to say it, but I hope my message is clear.
Speaker 1:
21:45
I think what you're saying is, and people have talked about it in a broader sense, in parenting of not getting a trophy for always participating, not getting, you're talking about that mentality.
Speaker 3:
21:57
Pardon me? Say it again. I've seen that in the news lately about getting trophies for, yeah. It was kind of just beginning when my kids were in school and that's what you're talking about your year. I see that that's all. I mean we also celebrate too, like there's a lot to celebrate about our kids. What about magnificent, wonderful magnetic. Tim takes your breath away
Speaker 1:
22:30
after we just talked about what you just said. Now you have to tell me what takes your breath away.
Speaker 3:
22:35
Was He, he is love. He's, he is love and you said it best. He just exudes it. It's, it's not just charisma. It's not just charm. It's this embodiment of,
Speaker 5:
23:03
okay,
Speaker 3:
23:03
love and acceptance that he gives out an readily received, I mean, he's my, he's my hero and he's my idol. I mean, I just need to be more like, no, that's beautiful.
Speaker 1:
23:23
And it takes my breath away as the way he can command a room. Like you were describing when you talked about him speaking, that took my breath away. Is, is there anything that you wish that you could change
Speaker 3:
23:35
in our world? And that's a broad question. Um, you know, I guess when it comes to our life is that our children who are so not the norm are just that they're just accepted as part of the whole mean. What's normal
Speaker 1:
24:09
when you're talking about the day, when the milestones that you talk about aren't always in the paper where every homecoming king is not in the paper where every, whatever. When for instance, if somebody would Johnson her winds, homecoming king or queen, they're still going to get in the paper because it's still unusual, right? You're looking,
Speaker 3:
24:28
here's the worldview that you're talking about that we're talking about. I can't tell you how many times we've been interviewed or some story has come out about Tim and they say these words, Tim suffers with down syndrome. Oh yeah, yeah. Never suffered and and that, and it's, and I'm not criticizing that particular person or whatever, but it's that attitude that automatically I feel sorry for you. Oh, you poor thing. You've got this son who's this and core Tim, you know, Oh look, he needs all this help or he's somehow less than me because he has down's syndrome. Are you kidding me? Take a closer look.
Speaker 1:
25:17
And they say that about numerous disabilities I see that suffers from, suffers from your right.
Speaker 3:
25:24
You're, you're right. You're seeing Tim or anyone like him or anyone with a disability as less than. You take a closer look in a mirror to see the world change. And I was one of them until I had my son. My eyes were open and I share my son with the world because I want everybody's eyes open. He is who he is. I wouldn't change him. I would never go back and want my second son to not have down syndrome because he is who he is
Speaker 1:
26:02
and we know he's fabulous. Yup. Now what do you think of the state of disability awareness, inclusion and acceptance today? Now this is kind of piggy backing on what we just talked about. So is it, you just want to echo what you just said or I'm thinking of, you know, me telling you that inclusion is still not practiced in the majority of schools properly. Um, things like that. That's what I'm thinking. But you can take it wherever you want to go.
Speaker 3:
26:32
You never know whether, I mean you have to work from the bottom up and then there's also messengers out there like Tim who can take it from the top down. Like he can go command a room of three thousand ten thousand fifty thousand people and show them something that some, and, and it's a slow going process, but some of those people, some of those people that walked in the door of his restaurant or lists or were carried away by one of his beautiful speeches and his energy and they can take that and see someone with a disability and go, what am I not seeing here? Or what can I see here that I saw at this other place? Tim can be a bridge. And so many other people like them and us, the parents, the educators, the people who spend time every day with these beautiful people have a message to send up. And sometimes that messages, anger, you need to fix this. And sometimes that message is just about acceptance and it has to be both. So that all that stuff about the battles, I guess we need to fight, pick your battles, but also take responsibility for teaching up, teaching that acceptance, teaching what you see in your son or daughter as beautiful and ask and get people to ask you the question, why do you feel blessed? Because you have this son or daughter because people want to know. I could ask that all the time.
Speaker 1:
28:18
I love that. I love that and I, and I really appreciate that you just took hours of your time to share with us why you feel blessed and how you feel blessed and you gave us all angles of it. So I want to thank you so much for grading to be to this chat today. You're a wealth of information and experience and it's a real treat to get to pick your brain and to hear what you had to say. And to our listeners, I encourage you to go to our website to see pictures of Tim and his family throughout his spectacular life and the links that we're going to add there. And I'm sure that you like me. CanNot wait to see what Tim, we'll do next. So thank you Jeanie. Thank you so much.
Speaker 3:
28:59
Thanks for having me. Thank you.
Speaker 1:
29:03
Thank you for listening to the last episode in season one of foreign fabulous. I hope you enjoyed it beyond the lookout for season two after a break, to learn more about Tim and see some photos and videos, go to www.borenfabulouspodcast.com to receive updates. You can join our email list at our website. Again, www.orinfabulouspodcast.com and or like us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you haven't already, please subscribe to born fabulous podcast on iTunes or any podcast directory. Also, would you consider giving us a review on iTunes? That not only helps us podcast, it helps others find this podcast. We also have a youtube channel. Now. Please enjoy this clip of the ring lyrics. I'm Melissa Regio, who was the subject of episodes one through four. The music and voice are by Rachel Fuller.
Speaker 2:
30:02
[inaudible]
Speaker 6:
30:17
[inaudible]
Speaker 2:
30:25
[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible].