Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fun With Anxiety

We recently took Carter to the doctor because we noticed him having strange reactions to new or unknown things.  Our pediatrician said that he has anxiety.  He needs to feel safe and supported and we need to be patient and understanding with him.
Seriously?  Do you even know who you’re talking to?  My mind immediately starts flashing back to all the times I’ve used the fact that he’s afraid of something against him.  Um, yeah, I wrote a whole blog about it (see “Using Fear”). 

You mean all this time he’s really had something up with him and I’ve been exploiting it for my own gain?  The therapy bill just keeps getting bigger and bigger…
But, in my defense, I've only tried to scare him in an effort to keep him safe. 
Like, we may or may not have told him that tigers live in the basement.  It’s dangerous down there!  There are tools and crap lying around everywhere!  Do you expect me to tell him the truth?
“Oh, hey, buddy don’t go down in the basement.  All of Daddy’s tools are down there, power tools and saws and hammers and screwdrivers.  Also all of your outside toys are down there.  You know, the ones that you loooooove playing with that are away for the season.  Oh, and I think Daddy even has some old cool car parts lying around.  So, stay outta there, ok?”
 I’m sure that would work just as well.
Now, I think I need a little clarity on the rules here.  I’m not supposed to scare him into compliance anymore, but if he already has a mistaken belief about something am I obligated to correct it? 
I don’t like him reaching into the sink for obvious reasons so I told him so:
“Carter, don’t reach into the sink.  There are things in there that could hurt you.”                          
“Like whales?”
I mean, I was gonna say knives.  But if you thinking there are whales in there keeps you from playing in the sink then...yeah...whales.  He came up with that on his own so technically I can't be held responsible for that one.  Right?  Right?
I don’t only use outrageous threats to keep him from doing things.  I also use them to GET him to do things.
One time I told him that if he didn’t let me cut his nails he would turn into a werewolf.  I guess this whole anxiety thing is the reason why the next day he frantically told Grant, “You better let Mama cut your nails....I think you're in danger." 

I briefly wondered why he was trying to save his brother.  But then I figured Carter realized if Grant turned into a werewolf then Carter would be stuck living with him.  He probably figured having a warewolf as a brother would suck.  So they would both be screwed…hence the warning.
Sometimes, however, things I thought would scare him don’t really seem to bother him that much.
Once I told him that if he didn’t behave I would send him to live with the Wild Things.  This statement put him deep in thought, and then he looked at me and asked:  “What kind of Wild Things?  What color are they?  What kind of house to they live in?  Are there toys there?”
Wait.  I’m sorry, are you asking these questions because you are considering going and you need to collect more information so you can weigh your options?  Gotta get all the facts before you make a final decision?  Do you need to get back to me on this one?
This is going to take some getting used to.  My signature parenting tools are threats and bribery.  I don’t know how to function as a normal, caring, loving mother.  Stay tuned.

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