xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: "All Kids Do That" Part 18: Obsessions

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"All Kids Do That" Part 18: Obsessions

See the tab above for more information about this series.

Today's contribution is from the mysterious, nameless blogger from My Whac-A-Mole Life. Who is she? What is her name?? NOBODY KNOWS!

“I must confess I don’t know why my brother is obsessed by trucks,” harmonically laments Justin Roberts in his popular, cutesy kid’s song of the same name.

True, most parents with young kids will at some point roll their eyes and complain that little Johnny is “obsessed” with (CIRCLE ONE):  trucks; trains; superheroes; princesses; Dora; a particular blankie. Or maybe it’s a bedraggled stuffed animal, like the one featured in that adorable, mainstream picture book series – “Knuffle Bunny.” Aw, kids are so cute.

Unfortunately, these obsessions, as depicted by Justin Roberts and Mo Willems, respectively, are merely child’s play!

Both of my children have been professionally labeled with, among many other diagnoses, OCD.  Autism - which is prominent on my daughter’s CV - is known to include perseverative behaviors. And she, like many others on the spectrum, cleverly applies this perseveration to her passion du jour.

Oh that it would be something as cute and relatable as princesses! Instead, here’s a sampling of my 7-year-old’s die-hard obsessions over the past couple of years:
  • Red shirts
  • Hotels – logos, furniture, lobbies
  • Doctor’s offices (particularly shots)
  • Beds. Sometimes chairs. Rugs too.
  • Hamburgers
  • Pumpkins
  • Bags – first Ziplocs and then paper bags, particularly the one pictured here:
  • Bathrooms
  • Cake mixes

So yeah, for starters, the actual objects of desire are weird. Now let’s look at how this plays out, using her current obsession (four months and going strong): Expo dry erase markers. She doesn’t necessarily like to draw with them, mind you. She prefers hoarding, admiring and “talking” about them.

  • Every store we go into that could possibly sell markers, she’s off and running to the office supply section. Full tantrum ensues unless we buy her dry erase markers. And no, the cheap, generic brands will not do. Must. Be. Expo.
  • Given some freedom on her iPad (she uses it as a speaking device and I’m thrilled that her spelling, reading and typing skills are developing), she is on YouTube or Safari seeking a dry erase marker fix. Sampling of search terms she has employed: Expo, markers, dry erase, purple (yes, just purple), and so on. We have watched boring, corporate whiteboard presentations; we have visited every online office supply store in existence; and we have endured countless Expo ads. Too bad she can’t be a spokesperson.
  • Our home copy machine has run out of toner because she likes to make copies of Expo logos, boxes and markers. Unfortunately, she must have the markers arranged just so on the machine. Since they are cylindrical and they roll, she has yet to achieve the perfection she seeks. (See picture). Thus, we run out of paper or patience first and then the machine must “go to sleep.” This basically ruins her day.
  • Speaking of sleep, a particular picture (it varies per day) and perhaps even a marker go to bed with her.  How do we know which one she wants? We don’t; only she does. Lord help us all if she can’t find it!
  • When we pick her brother up from school, she repeats over and over that she has to go to the bathroom. When I am stupid enough to give in, I realize it’s her sneaky way of gaining access to the secretary’s office and pilfering the jar of Expo markers on her desk. Cue full meltdown when I do not let her take them. How do I explain?
  • Anywhere we go…any house we visit…she is on the hunt for Expo markers. It’s uncanny and kind of impressive that she has the ability to locate them everywhere. Her sixth sense leads her right to them. “Oh, does she want to color? Is she looking for a toy?” someone might ask. Um, no, I must reply, she just wants your Expo marker.

I could go on, but you get the picture. In a way, I’m grateful for the marker obsession. Previously, you might have witnessed me in the middle of Target screaming at my beautiful, tear-stricken, bawling daughter:  “No, I am not taking you to the doctor! You may not get a shot today!” Emotionally numb after repeating this statement so frequently, I had little awareness as to how disturbing it sounded to anyone else.

I can only speculate that these passions fulfill some sort of sensory need for her.  I imagine that they provide some semblance of comfort, or a feeling of control over her environment. Since she is largely nonverbal, I cannot know for sure. However, I do know this: All kids DO NOT do that.