Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a condition that makes even the simplest tasks time consuming and difficult. Sufferers can sometimes take hours to leave the house for fear that they have missed some small ritual or minute rite that makes leaving the security of their home bearable. It’s tragic.
The OCD that I have to live with is even more poignant because it’s sufferers are so young and so innocent. My son at nearly four years of age and my daughter, nearly two, are unbearably young to be afflicted but I need to share the burden and reveal that their OCD is driving me bloody bonkers. It is not really anything big, but a collection of small idiosyncratic behavioral tics that I am sure they are conspiring to coordinate in order to finally tip me over the edge. Heart of Darkness in Rolle. You read it here first.
Patient 1 – Boy, aged 3 ¾
- Symptom 1 – Pooing Nekid For some totally inexplicable reason, DS will only squeeze one out if he is completely starkers. I have asking him why he needs to go all Discovery Channel and he says that he ‘doesn’t want to get his jimmies dirty’ (n.b. See symptom 2) Quite how he’d achieve this is beyond my reasoning, but he now finds it almost impossible to go unless he strips off. This, unfortunately, turns toilet trips ‘off site’ into Hymilayan, naturalist adventures…
- Symptom 2 – Wearing Pyjamas The second DS gets inside a dwelling that he considers to be a house then the first question that he’ll ask is: ‘can I put my jimmies on?’ This has led to other parents looking at us askance, wondering if we every let him out of bed. I must spend an hour a day getting him in and out of various (he likes the variety…) pyjamas. It is a comfort thing, I know that, but it drives me NUTS.
- Symptom 3 – Lift Buttons Since we have moved into an apartment – an apartment that has a lift – we have to get the lift up and down, even though we’re only on the first floor. But – and this the important part – DS must press the buttons. If someone else presses the buttons – be they kid, parent, policeman or astronaut – then DS’s world will collapse, like when Neo took the blue pill in the Matrix. We then have to wait and then go down / up again. FFS, as if life is not short enough.
- Symptom 4 – Buttons ‘n’ zips There must be a scientific name for this, something like fastenerphobia, but DS cannot wear any trousers with buttons or zips. Maybe he is worried about going through security at airports or has some secret metallurgy conspiracy theory, but this has meant that we have had to find trousers that only have drawstrings or elasticated waistbands. The only ones we have found are plaid Boden trousers with elasticated waistbands that make him look like a octogenarian golfer taking a stroll on the deck of a cruise ship. He says he will only wear ‘comfy’ trousers and I have a deep, deep fear that he will be one of the teenage boys who will only wear polyester tracksuit bottoms. This gives me the fear as the only people who wear this flamable ensemble are poor, fat or both. There, I’ve said it: shoot me.
Patient 2 – Girl, aged 1 ¾
- Symptom 1 – Hair Clips I know she is only 2 ¾, but her barnet is getting a bit long now and she gets irritated when it slips into her eyes. Solution? Hair clips! Will she wear them? Will she ever. She looks at them like dentist’s instruments with a look that says: ‘I have social services on speed-dial, big fella, just try and put one in my hair… ‘ We’ve tried buying sparkly ones, sequin encrusted ones, Hello Kitty ones, ribbony ones; but no, DD wants to wander around looking like a member of The Motley Crew after a particularly big night…or she’ll scream like Motley Crew after a particularly big night.
- Symptom 2 – Yoghurt Lids DD loves yoghurt, especially when she ‘accidently’ drops her spoon and has to use her fingers. But – now, this is important – she must lick the yoghurt off the lid or she will scream. If she had the vocabulary she would say: ‘if you even think about touching that lid, so help me God, I will beat you with this here plastic spoon until even your own mama won’t recognise you…and gimme a ricecake.’
- Symptom 3 – Zizoo Zi-wha? It has long been lost in the sands of time why we called DD’s little comforter Zizoo, but that is his name nevertheless. I have a love hate relationship with the Zizster. I love the fact that he gives her comfort and she adores him. But I hate the fact that she doesn’t adore him enough to NOT DISCARD HIM WILLY NILLY AROUND TOWN, IN PLAYGROUNDS, SUPERMARKETS; IN FACT ANY TIME SHE MANAGES TO SECRETLY STASH HIM ON HER PERSON SHE WILL DROP HIM. I have mounted rescue missions – too many times – when DD utters the terrifying phrase: ‘where’s Zizoo?’ I freeze. I instruct my second-in-command, Darling Son, to look for him; but no! Distaster! DD dropped him at the supermarket, it’s the only place. So I run around, changing DS out of his jimmies (ARSEACHE! -see DS Symptom 2) and and into his elasticated trousers (ARSEACHE! See DS Symptom 4) DD into a jacket, shouting: ‘Go! Go! Go!’ like a Paratroop captain. Into the lift (No! I’ll press the buttons! ARSEACHE! – See DS Symptom 3). We rush around the supermarket to find it into the pasta aisle and calamity is averted. I’m telling ya, this kind of thing could give a fatter man a coronary.
- Symptom 4 – Wet Wipes DD is utterly obsessed with wet wipes. I know why, of course, it’s because they’re magic. It’s not becasue they have a faint scent, or because they are slightly moist and are good at cleaning faces as well as bottoms (but not with the same wet wipe, folks!) or that they have pictures of cute babies looking happy (which has so far not correlated with my experience of changing nappies – they should, instead, have a really, really pissed off baby on the front with poo on his heels). They are magic, of course, because when you pull one out another appears. Like magic! Pull another one…and another appears. OMG! Bu-bu-but how? Pull another, go on…ANOTHER APPEARS! OMG! This is what runs through a babies head, not: ‘I should really stop pulling these things out because wet wipes cost a couple of pounds a pack (or chuffs in our case – thanks Mat for the currency name) so that means…each wipes costs 2p! My goodness, I better stop right now!’