Is it me or do all children have some degree of OCD? I used to think that O must have some kind of genuine condition because everything had to be done in a certain way or in a particular order. For example, when he first started to take an actual interest in the process of getting dressed – and by “take an interest”, I really mean “decide it was an aspect of his daily routine that he had to have absolute control over” – the entire morning would descend into tantrum-filled chaos at the mere suggestion that he put his pants on before his socks – because, let’s face it, socks before pants is just weird. But if I just got sick of the whole messing about of getting dressed every morning, pinned him down and forced him into his clothes in an order of which he did not approve, I would find him five minutes later standing naked in his room screaming bloody murder. Like, sorry I ruined your day, but we’ve been at this for hours and you’re still only wearing one fucking sock.
Usually these things come and go in phases. We’ve had the “I want to do it!” phase where O threw one of those impressive facedown-on-the-carpet tantrums if I dared to close his curtains for him or put the toothpaste onto the toothbrush without his input. Shortly after that was the aforementioned daily clothing debacle, which meant that getting dressed could, realistically, take about a week. Now we have this thing where he has to win at everything.
If I was late for work in a life before children, I would run like buggery down the stairs and hare out of the front door, throwing myself dramatically behind the wheel of my car and tearing out of the driveway. But these days I have to allow O to go down the stairs in front of me while I work myself up into a state of complete internal panic because if I don’t then he will have an utter fucking meltdown about the fact that he didn’t “win”. This also goes for the following situations:
Finishing a meal first.
Putting F in the bath first.
Walking into any room in the house first.
Getting ready for bed first.
Doing absolutely anything first.
Seriously. If I sneeze first then I’ve overstepped the boundaries because O wanted to sneeze first. I really fucking hope this phase ends soon. I’d like to win at something in life again someday.
I remember my mother telling me once that my brother went through a stage shortly after potty training when he had to use every toilet he came across, which apparently had something to do with the fact that coloured bathroom suites were A Thing back then. This frankly weird obsession very nearly led to a terribly awkward situation in the bathroom section of B&Q. What a great blog post that would have made, eh? So when O throws me another OCD curveball, I just try to remind myself of that and thank every possible deity out there that nothing that mortifyingly fucking awful has happened to us… Yet.
The thing is though, sometimes I still have absolutely no idea how to deal with these OCD phases. The whole winning thing at the moment is particularly trying because, realistically, I cannot always let him “win”. There are many nights when I’ve given O every possible opportunity to get undressed and into the bath before his brother and he’s still running maniacally around the house, riding his rocking horse naked and generally doing everything he can to evade capture, meanwhile I just want to get both children bathed and into bed so I can collapse on the sofa and stare at the wall for the rest of the night. I also kind of want to explain to him that there will be times when he will not win and that he will find life very disappointing if he believes that winning is everything. And that, in fact, it’s really okay not to win all the time. But I rationalise it by assuming that it’s just a phase and will pass eventually like all the other phases (even though this particular one has been going on forever). Knowing that doesn’t always make it easy to deal with though, and sometimes I am just really fucking late to work and need to get down the stairs first, so I have to leave poor N to deal with the epic tantrum that ensues when the door slams behind me and the screaming is lost in the screech of tyres as I gun the engine out of the gates.
So I’m just kind of wondering… Is it just us, or do you have a small person who insists on turning out the light every night and hates being the last one down the stairs?