My daughter just got a feather and some tinsely bling in her hair. Most of the little girls in her class were sporting some hair bling, and my daughter's received short shift of mommy time lately while I frantically cleared my mother's apartment. Last weekend, my husband went out to play cards, and the Kid and I had girls' night. We went to the mall, she got her hair bling, we looked in the stores, debated which boy in One Direction is cutest. (I've given up pointing out that for me to even have a preference is kind of creepy since I'm old enough to be a mother (or in some parts of the nation, a grandmother) to any of them) We had ice cream. And I thought we had a great evening of girl things.
Until the anxiety started. My daughter has severe anxiety and it touches every aspect of her life. Combined with OCD, if things aren't exactly so in her world, things don't go well. As I was tucking her in to bed a couple of hours after getting the hair bling, the worry line on her forehead appeared.
"Mommy, what if I get the feather wet?"
"Then we'll dry it."
"What if the bling falls out?"
"I watched the lady put them in. I'll just put the bling back in and if it's the feather, keep it and we'll go and get them to put it back in."
"The lady said we had to be careful in the swimming pool or the colour will come out of the feather? What if it gets wet? Will it happen right away?"
"No honey, it won't happen right away. We'll just put your swim cap on, and then rinse it out really quickly after swimming."
"But what if..But what if... The questions went on for another 10 minutes, all variations on the same theme. What if the cat tried to get the feather? What if the bling fell out and she didn't notice it? What if only half the feather fell out...I finally calmed her down by thinking up silly ways the feather could fall out-what if a moose snuck in the door and gave her a moose kiss and slimed her feather? What if daddy wanted to steal her feather? She went off to sleep thinking up outrageous ways to lose the feather and what we would do.
A couple of days later, one of the tinsel did fall out, and I replaced it in her hair in under 2 minutes. Her anxiety is less now, especially since the pink feather survived swimming lessons unscathed and unfaded.
What started out as an innocent girly girl thing turned into an anxiety producing event. It's easy to minimize the fears until you realize that in the Kid's mind, they aren't minimal at all. If she gets this worked up over a couple of strands of tinsel and a feather, what about the big stuff like what high school to go to, what career to choose or who to date? It made me regret the hair bling, which then made me angry at this mental challenge my innocent little daughter will deal with the rest of her life. I'll have to adapt, and then teach her how to deal with it. Humour and hugs will help. And maybe some backup hair bling...