These days Cameron is absolutely obsessed with street signs. He asks about the meaning of every single sign that we pass. This wouldn’t be too bad except he’s not very good at telling me which sign he’s looking at. So when there are multiple signs, I have trouble telling him what they mean. I’ve asked him to tell me the color and shape of the sign so I can better help him, but despite the fact that he knows both his colors and his shapes he mysteriously forgets them when looking at signs. It also wouldn’t be so terrible if he would accept that I am unable to answer him without more details. But he gets very frustrated that I’m not seeing what he’s seeing and able to read his mind. The frustration doesn’t stop him from continuing to ask though.
This isn’t our first experience with obsession. I can only assume that some level of obsession about a topic is normal for all kids, but it seems like my kids take it to a level beyond “normal”. Brendan, of course, is the king of obsession. What floors us about his obsessions are the types of things that he will obsess over. One that was particularly interesting was his obsession about power lines. He had a name for each and every type of power line that you see beside the road, and on the streets near our house he could tell you based alone on which way we turned out of the neighborhood what type we were going to pass. He would request to take specific routes to school and daycare so that he could “visit” with specific ones. There was one that he named Mr. McGillicuddy that we only passed if we took one route to the kids daycare that was about half a mile out of our way, and he would beg us to go that way every time he rode with us to pick up the little kids. It didn’t stop there either. For months he would beg to draw, and we had stacks and stacks of pictures of power lines. It’s the only thing he would draw.
Brendan’s been like this for as long as I can remember. One of his very first obsessions was with grass. He wanted to know what it was, how it grew, what was underneath it…the list of questions went on and on. Shortly after that one, he hooked on stop lights. That one got old pretty quickly because there are only so many things you can ask about 3 lights, but he kept on that one for months. What’s worse is that a few months ago Cameron went through the same phase. I’m not sure I’ll live through it if Kaylee goes through this in a couple of years.
I think I could handle it better if they could just let it go once in a while. But unfortunately with Brendan being the way he is, he can not let anything go and the other two, taking their cue from him, have also learned to beat subjects to death. Brendan has been known to meltdown completely if we don’t allow him to indulge his current obsession. This can cause problems depending on what his obsession is. This week he’s obsessed with his sister’s coat. We found an adorable winter coat for Kaylee at a garage sale this summer. It’s long, and made of a soft furry material. Kaylee loves to snuggle up inside her “fluffy” coat, and will oftentimes continue to wear it around the house long after we’ve come in from somewhere. Brendan is absolutely obsessed with touching the fluffy coat. Whenever Kaylee has it on, he can’t help but touch it…all the time. This of course makes her scream like a banshee. She does not like anyone to touch her fluffy coat. (even mom and dad, and we’re the ones who have to try and help her get it on–“Nooooooooo!! MY coat!!!”) So the battle ensues.
First the whining phase…
“Brendan, don’t touch your sister’s coat.”
“But I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnt toooooo.”
“She said no, please leave her alone.”
“Why does she aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalways have to say noooooooooooo. It’s not faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiir.”
He reaches out and touches the coat again, beginning the angry phase.
“Brendan, I told you to stop that.”
“It’s not fair, I don’t want to stop. I shouldn’t have to stop.”
“You need to stop because I told you to.”
“I don’t have to do anything you say, I can touch it if I want to touch it.”
His finger creeps toward the coat again, slowly, hoping that I won’t catch him (I always do). This begins the final phase of the meltdown which is the irrational screaming and crying phase.
Once we hit this phase, we are at the point of no return. And while Brendan gives us the most obvious forms of obsession, the other two are right along with him. Cameron has been known to get it into his head that he doesn’t want to do something at preschool, and will eventually get himself sent to the office because he’s so stubbornly sticking to what he wants versus what the teacher has instructed him to do. Meanwhile Kaylee is obsessed about the rocking chair that we just put out into our living room last month. It was in her bedroom, and is the rocking chair I used to rock all three kids when they were little. But as she’s really gotten too big to be rocked to sleep at night, and the rocker matches our new living room furniture, I moved it out there to provide an additional seat for guests. If anyone sits in the chair however, she will pull on the sleeve of that person screeching, “MY CHAIR” at the top of her lungs until the person gets fed up with listening to it and either vacates the chair or sends her to her room.
I keep hoping that my children will eventually grow out of these obsessions, but given that I have my own anal retentive tendencies something tells me that’s not very likely to occur.