I used to think it was cute when Ethan was younger and was so attached to his Nemo blanket and pillow. And we knew plenty of babies and toddlers who wouldn’t go anywhere without their favorite stuffed animals or blankets. Nemo was just Ethan’s thing. Then he moved on to Thomas the Tank Engine (he knew EVERY character), followed by Shark Tale, followed by…..you get the drift. He has little obsessions. Any certain toy, character, book, movie, or tv show may hold his attention for a given period of time. During that time, there is no going anywhere without whatever object it is he is attached to. Right now, he is hooked on Angry Birds, a gel pen he earned in class, Legos, and Harry Potter. I have spent countless hours the past few months searching for random items around the house over which he is melting down because they are “lost’. This morning, I had to put his jacket and backpack on him, and shove him out to the door to carpool for school. Tears were pouring down his face, and he was seriously pouting, arms crossed, because we could not find his gel pen. Yesterday, it was the same but for the portable dvd player we hadn’t been able to find so he could watch his Lego DVD. Who knows what it will be tomorrow.
I used to think it was easier to just give in….to cater to his obsessions. I used to make sure we had whatever object it was whenever we’d go to practices, dance class, dinner, and on trips. Isn’t it easier to just have it than deal with the inevitable tears? I’m not sure I’m helping him anymore, and it certainly isn’t helping my sanity to spend so much time and energy looking for or keeping those items at hand, especially when those obsessions seem to be changing on a weekly basis. I know having these things to hold on to, knowing where they are, gives him some sort of comfort. But now he has also started to obsess with what people may be saying about him.
We’ve had to have plenty of conversations about him and his behavior, in his presence, over the past couple of months. He does not like it one bit, and will usually shut down. He will curl up in a ball, bury his face in the pillows, or throw a tantrum. And he is convinced that kids at school are spreading rumors about him “being in love” with a classmate. Every day I get an update on whether anyone was talking about it or not. We talk with him about rumors, why people spread them, why people might be talking about him (if they are talking about him). He is very concerned with peers possibly making fun of him.
What used to be cute and relatively normal has now become exhausting and something to be dealt with. Just part of the road we are on, I know. I can’t honestly say I never obsessed about things when I was a kid. Don’t most of us have things that comfort us? But when it becomes a factor in how your entire day goes……ugh.