Thursday, July 24, 2014

How I Saved My Daughter's Sanity or Scarred Her For Life--The Jury's Still Out

We've always claimed that Carmen is our family’s best hope for normal. I often wonder if she wasn't shamed into it. By her mother.

You see, when she was younger—maybe nine or ten—she started showing definite OCD behavior. She had to touch certain spots on the floor before she left a room. She had to touch certain pieces of furniture or sections of the wall. She counted stuff. I handled this quirkiness in my usual fashion—with humor because patience has never been my strong suit.

Then it happened. An OCD quirk I couldn't laugh away.

The Quiet and Calculating One developed this truly awful habit of interrupting her speech with little humming patterns.

“So, Mom, when are we…mmm mmm mmm…going to the pool?”
“What’s…mmm mmm mmm…for dinner?”
“Can I…mmm mmm mmm… have friends over?”

I think I managed to ignore it a total of two times. Then things got real. My loving and compassionate response was, “Stop doing that! It’s annoying and people will think you are weird!”

Eventually I shortened it to, “OCD!” Every time she would start the hum, I would yell, “OCD!”
And when she asked what “OCD” meant, I snapped, “It means Oh Carmen Don’t! Because it’s annoying and people will think you are weird.”

Fast forward 7 years. I’m watching a documentary that followed kids with OCD from grade school through high school. I’m truly amazed at the struggles and challenges these kids and their families faced. One girl had to move in with her grandmother because she thought her family was contaminated. Another girl stayed home from school for three months for the same reason. Yet another took four hours to get dressed every day because of the washing rituals.

Why had my daughter not succumb to her OCD tendencies which, even though I’m making light of them here, were very real?

So I asked. She answered, “Because you shamed me out of it. You told me it was annoying and everyone would think I was weird. I didn't want to be annoying and weird, so I forced myself to stop.”
It’s true. She actually was shamed into it by her mother! I’m putting this one in the win column anyway. After all, I did stop her from a life of struggle and possibly never being able to enter a department store. Right? 

Besides, she is still our best hope for normal even if I have to shame her into it.

Even Roaring Moms don’t always get it right. What’s your not-so-proud parenting moment that somehow worked out anyway?

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