Last night: Ray’s bed, where we were snuggling right before bedtime- a nightly ritual, it allows him to settle down into sleep.
“Mommy, I have a new Tourette’s.”
Yea, I sometimes reach out and have to touch things. I pat them, two or three or sometimes more. I can’t help it, I just do it.
Oh man, oh man… I saw this on The OCD Project. Deep breath… Does it feel like you just have to, like you’ll burst if you don’t and then as you pat, that stress goes away?
(Look of surprise)- Yea, just like that. I feel better when I do it.
sigh- he has OCD now, too? Is it a problem? Do you want to make it stop? No sense in “fixing” it if it’s not a problem. And… depends on what he’s patting. I can just see explaining this one to some third grade parent…
Yea, I don’t want to do it, but I just have to. It’s weird.
There are some things you can do. Do you want to hear about them? Knowing Ray, if I jump straight into teaching mode, he’ll resist. Sigh…
Well… the easiest thing to do is to take some very, very deep breaths. That stress you’re feeling is a bunch of chemicals in your brain that is telling your brain that you’re stressed and this will fix it. It’s a weird thing, because it’s not real- it’s just the chemicals that are combining and telling your brain lies. Oxygen- a lot of it- can pop those chemicals sometimes. You can take big breaths in through your nose- remember, smell the flower?- and blow out the bad chemicals through your mouth- remember, blow out the candle? You are literally popping the chemicals and blowing them away. The book Talking Back to OCD says to disconnect OCD from the person- OCD is chemicals, NOT part of you. How to translate that to a kid…?
You’ve told me this before, Mommy! (aggravated tone).
Just trying to reinforce the message… Another thing you can do is to stop your hand and just wait it out- know that it’s the chemicals that are screaming at you to do it, not you, and you can wait it out. And that’s really, really, really hard because the stress builds up pretty bad. Breathing can help you through that waiting too. It does go away and the chemicals do stop yelling at you to do something you don’t want to do.
Uh huh. Mommy, are we going to watch Cats and Dogs? It’s really, really funny.
And there closed my window of communication.. Oh, I hope it helped…
About 5 minutes later:
Time for bed, Ray. Good night sweetheart. I love you soooo much.
I love you, Mommy.
Said muffled against his hair: I admire you so much, Ray. You are dealing with stuff that no little kid should have to. And you’re doing such a good job. You really are.
… and with that, Ray gave me an extra special hug and a small smile of gratitude. And I went back to my bed, humbled. Poor kid- this is really, really hard- and he’s so small. But I was grateful, so grateful that he was at a place where he could verbalize it. So often he lashes out in frustration and anger, rather than asking for help. I only pray that I can provide help that he can use.