My children have always loved playing in the snow. I enjoy it too. My husband, not so much. So usually when it snows, I suit up with them and go have fun in the snow. I have even gone to play in the snow with my 4 year old when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. It does not snow often in North Carolina and some winters we have no snow. I grew up living in Ohio and Pennsylvania with many snow falls and have fond memories of one and two feet of snow. We get real excited about six inches of snow here in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, I hurt my back New Year’s Eve and it has been slow healing. Stress number one: my husband has to go out which he does not like, I have to watch him put the wrong pants on our two year old and insist that he not put the size 12 shoes on his size 6 foot, because it makes it really hard for him to move. (We put these boots on when it snowed the December 26 but the kids was miserable. I then realized how big the shoes were, a few sizes too big is one thing, but twice his size!…I told my husband that would be like if he wore size 22 shoes. He got quiet.)
Stress number two, my oldest child, who is 13 likes to get up, go play in the snow and then come in and do something else with his day. Most days, he sleeps until 10am or later at times. But today he woke up at 8:30. His brain is somehow programmed to get up and do things like it tells him “Its snowing, so we need to go play in the snow now, before it turns to ice (another issue here in NC that I never had as a kid). And then I will come inside and get warm and can go on the computer.”
So you say, “What is wrong with that? The kid likes to get to things and get them done and move on to the next thing. Why is that stressful?”
You have no idea…stress three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine….I can’t count high enough to equate the stress level that my daughter has. She has OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If things do not fit the picture in her head, she has a meltdown, often rage, with yelling and violent behavior. She may be 8 years old and petite but she is strong. Certain things have to be a certain way and things get contaminated and then she has to perform rituals because of the contamination. It’s a crazy cycle that has no rhyme nor reason. It makes no sense and follows no consistent pattern that can be understood logically or by rational minds.
And so, her older brother going out in the snow to make a snow man, or a snow caterpillar like he has made, sends her into ballistic fits of rage and panic. Life wasn’t always this way. She used to enjoy going in the snow. Sure she might get in an argument with her brother over something in the snow, but nothing out of the ordinary. We did not have these issues last year in the snow. Life is different now, and has been since early last spring (2010). (See prior post)
This is our second snow of the season. I saw this happen December 26 so I thought I could prevent the total meltdown this time. I talked to my oldest about sleeping in and not rushing to go outside. He woke up early, but waited until about 10am to begin pressing the issue. My daughter quickly became stressed this morning even before any talk of going outside. I think maybe her stress level rises, because she does not like going through these things, she wants to enjoy playing in the snow, but can’t get past the “OCD talk” in her head. This is pure theory on my part. The other issue she has and I believe is common to OCD, is that she won’t talk about what she is going through. She just gets angry and starts demanding things. On December 26, she was standing outside in about 6 inches of snow, in our large front yard, we have about a half-acre yard plus extra due to large county easement property. She stood in the yard in all of the snow yelling, “He’s going to use up all the snow!”
You can’t reason with OCD, you can’t try to convince her this is not possible. It took me a while to figure out that she did not like how the yard looks after you roll a snowball and see the grass. She could not tell us she did not like that. Only after I guess at these things and inquire, only then will she say, and not always, that she doesn’t like the snow all messed up. But she tends to use exaggerated words, like all gone. And then she demands that he not go outside before her.
So we were talking about going outside at 10 am. I tried to give her the opportunity to go outside first before her brother. But she wanted him to not build a snow caterpillar or a snowman or make any large snow balls. And she was only getting madder about it. We tried to really listen to what she was not saying and not judge and hear her out. It’s not easy. My hip and back pain seems to be exaggerated by stress and the nerve pain increases when I tense up. Staying calm was not easy this morning.
Somehow, she totally melted down. Worse than last snow fall. My oldest, was getting to impatient to go outside and despite first asking him to wait 10 more minutes, I decided to let him go out because who knows how long it will take her to calm down enough to get ready to go out.
We haven’t seen the rage like she went through this morning in a while. It is not easy to stay calm and patient when your child is ragging. And managing the dog and the toddler and the persistent 13-year-old who just wants to go play in the snow.
Did I say that it is still snowing and is expected to snow all day? Somehow we got through it today. We got through the rage, the yelling, the demanding we stop her brother, her kicking the doors and mumbling about killing us all, and then the crying meltdown and panic attack with fast breathing, and then the calling our “help me” as she proceeded to wash her hands for about 10 minutes and then get clothes on.
They are outside playing now. I even heard happy noises coming from outside. I used to like to sit and watch them if I could not join them outside. Not today, I needed to retreat to my room and write as my form of therapy. I write because I need to, it is my outlet, and my passion and it is healing. I also need to retreat to recharge.
Homeschooling my children and being with them 24/7 and I even have worked part-time out of the home, I need to have time away by myself to recharge my batteries, to gain perspective and clear my head. Writing my blog on my bed, under the covers, served that purpose today.
Now, my husband and toddler have come back inside and I can enjoy hearing my youngest talk about snow angels. I feel calmer inside. My daughter’s OCD issues still make no sense to me and are frustrating. But I can separate myself enough to know it is her path and my role is to be supportive and loving and seek assistance for her. I can’t change her, as much as I would like to just “get my daughter back” or go back in time and do things different with the hopes of preventing the full-blown OCD or maybe addressing it sooner. If only….
Maybe this will be the last snowfall we get this winter. Most likely, we will have more, and somehow I will find the strength to make the wisest decisions and plan ahead as much as possible and be ok no matter what happens. It really boils down to that, I have to be ok no matter what happens because I can not control what will happen. My mantra is:
I can remain calm, no matter what is going on with my children.
I will just keep repeating that today.
I can remain calm, no matter what is going on with my children.