I am the Mommy police. I keep small children from murdering each other in my house. I negotiate compromises, mediate squabbles, and occasionally incarcerate offending perpetrators (time out, sheesh, what did you think I meant?)
When it’s time to learn, things get a lot harder. The Princess is happy to color accompanying project pictures or dabble in play dough. The Destroyer, on the other hand, lives up to his name. Things crash to the floor, he escapes with a crayon (or worse, a marker!) in his hand, or sheets get crumpled in fat little baby fists.
I’ve tried giving him something to do at the table with us – nope, he wants to root around in everyone else’s stuff. I’ve put him in his high chair and pulled out tons of fun toys – nope, everything hits the ground. It’s attention he wants, not toys.
All my kids are needy, but this is the one with the severe separation anxiety. I can’t even go to the bathroom without him panicking that I’m not in sight. And by panic, I mean him chasing me to the bathroom screaming at the top of his lungs. If I reach it before he does – he’s fast! – he stands there and pounds on the door screaming “Momma, Momma!” or tries to reach under the door to get me out.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, we don’t go out often and leave a babysitter in charge.
So I carry him around a lot. I hold him as we sit at the table and cut and glue things. I cuddle him while we watch a video. And if I have to, I put him in the spacious play area and ignore his 5 minutes of screaming until he calms down and happily plays with a toy by himself for a few minutes.
I’ve heard it all: “what do you do to these kids to make them need you so much?” from a nursery worker at church. “He needs to adapt” from a friend. “He’ll have to tough it out” from family when I worried about needing to go for surgery. “Oh, you’re a stay-at-home mom, that explains it” from an acquaintance who wondered why he was so anxious.
We’ve learned that our kids eventually grow out of this stage – the older two did the same thing at his age. Perhaps not so severe. So we’re just toughing it out until he hits, say, about 3. By then things should calm down.
Tonight crystallized things for me. During his bedtime, we put on PJs and socks and a sleepsack to get ready for bed. He worried at one sock despite my repeated attempts to fix it – he kept fussing about it. I couldn’t get the seam to lie comfortably for him.
Red flags went up – we’ve been here before. I have noticed a few other things, but this one made it more real. I’m pretty sure the Destroyer has Sensory Processing Disorder too.
I hope I’m wrong. I want my wonderful happy little boy who charges through life without fear to stay that way. I don’t want him to scream at loud noises and run in panic from bathroom hand driers. I don’t want him to pitch horrible tantrums because he can’t handle the sensory input and is just trying to cope with an overwhelming world.
Most of all, I’m not sure I can handle having two kids with issues. If it happens I’ll deal with it. I’ll figure it out just like I am now with his big brother. But I really hope that maybe it is all my fault. Because that’s fixable.