I mentioned in a previous post that my son has some quirky, obsessive habits. I wondered if it is just a normal four year old thing and from your responses I learned that yes he is not the only four year old with quirky control/comfort issues and yet not all four year olds have these OCD tendencies.
Regardless if he is “normal” or not, Jackson’s habits can get down right inconvenient and so I must focus on the humorous side of them so as to better tolerate them.
Here is today’s installment. And if anyone else has ever known a child to do this one, I will be shocked.
My son will not through out any garbage unless he is at home or at Susan’s house. To clarify – this means that wherever we are and he eats something or does anything that makes a waste product (not dirty paper towels or napkins thank goodness!) I must bring it home to throw it in the garbage.
Now, if red flags go up and you think, “Well this woman is just enabling her son as he controls her and the rest of his little universe,” perhaps you are right.
But this obsession started when he was three years old at preschool. He was having a tough time with separation anxiety and he decided one day that he needed to bring home his garbage. He went into a tearful fit about it and the teacher decided that she would allow him to bring it home. I went along with it because he was having a hard time with me leaving him at school. He had just gone through more than a month when he would not wash his hands at school, even when I came to pick him up, insisting that he would do it at home. He was so adamant about this that he had to sit out at snack time everyday because he refused to wash his hands. Finally he gave in and began to wash his hands at school, switching instead to this garbage thing. Considering my child was at least now washing his hands, I decided I could handle a little garbage coming home.
This habit became routine and everyday he brought home his garbage from preschool. In fact, I got so used to it I didn’t think much about it. The first day of summer day camp I forgot to warn them. Oops – that was messy. Apparently he had quite a fit – and left a wake of stunned staff in his path. After that experience I try to make sure to warn teachers about it.
Now at daycare and preschool he continues to bring home his garbage. I get to empty lunch kits full of wrappers, plastic bags, messy yogurt and sticky apple sauce containers, and empty juice boxes. One day a substitute teacher didn’t know and threw his garbage out. Yes – you guessed it – bloodcurdling cries, weeping and gnashing of teeth. They remember to tell new teachers now.
Now let me help you wrap your mind around how this plays out in daily life. If we are out shopping for instance, my son will insist I bring home his garbage from anything he consumes. (Don’t tell him, but I often slip them into the garbage when he isn’t looking. How would you like to carry garbage in your purse? But all too often I am toting home garbage.)
Things went too far one day when I had Julia and Jackson out shopping in the mall. Jackson had to make a bowel movement and I had wipes in my purse for Julia. I told him I was going to use them to clean him up. Jackson lost it, screaming and crying – insisting that I could not put them in the garbage and would have to take home the dirty wipes. “I don’t think so Jackson! I am not, under any circumstance carrying poo in my purse!!!” As it turned out, his bowel movement was not very messy, so I didn’t use the wipes and just used toilet paper. (Because the toilet paper and the paper towels do not come from our home and do not belong to us, it is apparently acceptable to dispose of them in an unfamiliar garbage receptacle.)
I am not sure – but I think Jackson maybe the only child in the world to try to convince his mother to carry his poo home to his own garbage!
Oh – one more thing. If for instance the wrapper of a juice box straw is ripped in three or four pieces, all the pieces must go in the same garbage. They can not be separated. Jackson is very particular about this rule. Yes – staying together is very important to my son. If ever there were a child teaching his mother about the importance of the family unit Jackson is it.
Well – at least he keeps life interesting.