Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cross post from the Sandwich Chronicles

I'm a blogging machine's my post on The Sandwich Chronicles.

The Wisdom of Solomon.

On Camping

My husband and daughter tried camping in the backyard last night in a tent. A number of her school chums have campers, so camping was on my kid's wish list since last summer. We did try to  pitch the tent one day last year, and the tent pole broke in the process, aborting that attempt. New year, new tent, my husband was intent on keeping his promise this year.

The Kid was practically levitating with excitement. She'd planned which stuffies were coming camping, which blanket she was bringing, which pyjamas she was going to wear...she was dancing all over the deck, unable to sit still as we tried to put up a tent.

We have both camped before. My husband went camping with  his close friends a few years ago, and his friends were a bit concerned when they saw the amount of stuff Mr. Overpack was bringing. I think they were afraid I'd actually thrown him out and the camping trip was a front. I haven't camped since I was a young teenager and spent a couple of nights in my aunt and uncle's camper. I haven't camped in a tent since "Rock me Gently" and "Rock the Boat" were at the top of the charts. (oh, go and google, I'll wait.) A week at Girl Guide camp finished my tent camping days for good. Not sure if it was the cow that looked in through the flap someone forgot to secure or the chipmunk that ran across my face in the early morning, but I was done with the tent camping thing after that experience.

I'm just not an outdoors person. I'm not a gardener. It's a necessity, not an enjoyment.  I spent 6 months in physiotherapy after an afternoon of weeding. I'm not making this up. I screwed my shoulder so badly it took 6 months of physio to fix it. I'm a container gardener. Were it not for the worms, toads, wasps, bees, hornets, mosquitoes and dirt, I'd probably quite enjoy actual gardening.

When the idea of camping first came up, I was clear in my opinion. Have fun, you two. Mommy doesn't do camp, and mommy certainly doesn't do tent. The Kid is trying to figure out the boundaries for mommy to camp, and so far she has received a confirmation that I would, in fact, camp in a Winnebago.(Since we currently do not own stock in oil companies, and couldn't afford the gas for that sucker, it's a safe assertion on my part.)  I would consider a camper, but only if it has indoor plumbing.  My personal purgatory will see me stuck in a plain where I have to walk in the dark with a flashlight to use the bathroom at night. It will no doubt also include a shower I could only access a couple of times a week. I need my daily shower. It has to have a real bed. Air mattress and sleeping bag?

The tent went up, the air mattresses went in, and the Kid then spent 30 minutes arranging everything to her satisfaction. OCD means even in a tent things must be in a certain place.  She had snacks (dunkaroos, juice box and granola bars) She had her slippers. She had her blanket. She had her bears. Time for bed. She and hubby crawled into the tent and I went in the house and locked the doors. I could hear her talking a blue streak, and the fact that there were fireworks in the neighbourhood last night didn't help the process of sleep. I was just getting ready to call it a night when a stream of curses caused me to look out the window. The tent was down. Experienced outdoor people that my husband and I are, we hadn't tightened something or fastened something, and the pop-up tent...didn't.

After a few minutes of debate and a few tears (from the Kid and blinked back from me since my night to myself was gone) they abandoned the project and came back inside. It took until 1am for the Kid to unwind and fall asleep.

Still, the promise was at least partially kept. The Kid spent a few hours in the tent (although the magic was wearing thin because there's not much to DO in a tent. I think her friends have been blowing smoke up her butt about the glamours of camping. That, or they never had to sit in the rain and NOT touch the sides of the tent.) and my husband kept his word. Best of all, I had the house and the remote to myself. Wins all around.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A day in the life of OCD/Anxiety

In honour of National Children's Mental Health Week, I bring you a snapshot of my life with my amazing 7 year old child, who happens to have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Anxiety Disorder. She may also have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder; we're still in the investigative process with that. (FASD) Although she rates 6 out of 8 characteristics for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADHD) she isn't "bad" enough to be considered ADHD. FASD and ADHD manifest in similar ways anyway. Potato-Potahto.

My little girl's birth mom admitted to crack cocaine use and drinking alcohol while pregnant. We knew before we adopted the Kid that we could have some challenges, researched it and decided to adopt the Kid anyway. She is the child God wanted us to have. I know that in my heart and my soul, and she is the reason that the first adoption fell through. God wanted us to have the Kid instead.

The Kid's OCD and Anxiety are twins that operate in tandem. When her anxiety gets worse, so does her OCD. Things need to be calm and consistent at home, and mom has to be calm and unstressed or things go off the rails fast. The Kid is an empath, and she feeds off stress and tension in the house. The last few months in our lives have been uncertain and chaotic, and I have learned the hard way that I need to keep my stress under control for the Kid's well-being as well as my own.

So what does OCD look like? A million little routines that HAVE to take place in a set order in a set way, or the Kid can't cope. For example, food cannot touch, it cannot be broken, and she can't use the same utensil for two different things. If I send pudding and soup in her lunch, she needs two spoons. Washing the spoon out isn't good enough-she needs two separate spoons. If there is even one corner broken on a cracker, she won't eat it. If the granola bar breaks in half in transit, she won't eat it. She fixates on certain things, so for the last 3 months, it was pasta with butter and cheese every single day in her lunch, except the day that she has a hot lunch. Monday-Thursday for most of this school year, she ate pasta with butter and cheese. Some days, I'd sneak in a sandwich or alphaghetti, but for the most part, it was pasta with butter and cheese. Sometime last week, we were done with pasta and cheese. It can happen that fast. The obsession starts, has to run its course and then it's done.

The special ed teacher last year told me I was enabling her obsession by packing her lunch that way. If enabling that piece of OCD means my child eats lunch every day, I can own that. She has never been able to cope or function if she was hungry. She WILL NOT EAT if her lunch is messed with-found that out in Kindergarten when the school was punishing her every day for talking instead of eating. Turns out a kid was trashing her lunch every day, so she couldn't eat, so she talked instead. Move the kid, problem fixed, she started eating. It was my first clue that we had a challenge to deal with.

Hair must be brushed before teeth. I found that out the hard way when I tried to hurry things along one morning and tried brushing her hair while she brushed her teeth. She freaked and locked herself in the bathroom for 20 minutes. In the winter, the order is coat, boots, hat, mitts, scarf and all must be on before we open the door. She will never be able to put her hat and mitts on in the car. Stuffies need to be in a certain place on her bed, things need to be in a certain place in her room. There are a myriad of rules that help the Kid cope with life, and some of them drive me batty, but I've learned to accept them.

The more worrisome aspect of her OCD, though, is her fixation on people. She will zero in on one person to the exclusion of everyone else. In Senior Kindergarten, one of her friends moved on to Grade 1. The Kid fixated on her to the exclusion of everyone else. It made for a tough school year start until it ran its course. She has also fixated on an older boy who used to be a lunch helper. He encouraged a game of chase with her which eventually had most of the school helping her find him, trying to stop him etc. It was innocent fun, except for a kid with OCD it became her lunch routine. the older boy got tired of being chased every day and put a halt to it, except for the OCD kid, it was still a fixation. Christmas break intervened and she didn't see him for a couple of weeks. The teacher thought I was overreacting about the OCD at first, and downplayed my concern about the chase game-but came to understand that in the Kid's mind, it wasn't a game.

Anxiety makes her check on her possessions. Anxiety makes her so upset that she's awake at 0230 hrs the night before a presentation. Anxiety had her in full-blown hysteria because she was afraid she'd left a favorite stuffy in the car, and was terrified that someone would steal it. I had to take her out to the car to reassure her. Anxiety brought that same stuffy in a zippered carry-all to ride on rides at the fall fair because it couldn't be left at home or in the car. Bunny came on the rides. Anxiety almost got her killed last summer when she left Bunny on a table at summer camp, and nearly bolted straight into 4 lanes of rush hour traffic to go back and get him. Anxiety can increase the OCD reactions. She's only 7-what happens when puberty hits?

OCD and Anxiety are not something she can snap out of. They are as much a part of her as her blue eyes and long legs. They do not define who she is, but they do explain how she reacts. I educate people about her characteristics, and I will help the Kid understand. As a family, we will learn and understand how her mind works. They are part of who she is, granted, but it doesn't change anything. My kid is still amazing and I love her. People will need to understand that, or they will have to answer to me, and you don't mess with mama bear.