Now before you get all shocked and judgmental, wait to see where I’m going with this.
I’m not teaching him how to be passive-aggressive or to wish harm on others.
In fact, the doll will represent him (or at least one part of him).
You’re really confused now, aren’t you?
Well, let me enlighten you.
My son has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
A lot of people joke about OCD and remark that they constantly need to even things up or that they’re “crazy” when it comes to worrying about germs.
They talk about it like it’s some endearing little quirk.
But OCD isn’t a quirky character trait.
Tamar E. Chansky, author of Freeing Your Child From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, describes it likes this:
” OCD comes from a biochemical mishap in the brain. Part of the brain sends out a false message of danger and rather than going through the proper ‘screening process’ to evaluate the thought, the brain gets stuck in danger gear and cannot move out of it. The emergency message circuit keeps repeating and is ‘immune’ to logical thought.”
Ms. Chansky states that the key to battling OCD is to learn – via cognitive behavioral therapy – to label it as a bad source of information, and to figuratively “boss it back.”
Are you wondering about some of the things OCD makes my son do? Here are the latest rituals:
- He hates the number 2 and will get very angry if you do anything two times (like say a word twice, or shut the dresser drawer in two moves)
- The refrigerator door must not close on its own; we have to control it.
- He will flick the light switch on and off upon entering or exiting a room.
- He has to step into and out of a room several times until he “gets it right.”
- He’ll produce a four-noise sound pattern in his throat whenever something bothers him, which is A LOT!
In the past, I’ve asked him, “Why are you doing these things?” but I don’t do that anymore because he really doesn’t know why. He just feels like he has to do them or things will not be right in his world.
Sometimes, I’m pushed to the point of frustration – especially when we need to be somewhere on time – and I lash out with a command like, “MOVE IT! WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!”
And I always regret doing that, because it’s not his fault. My boy shouldn’t bear the brunt of my impatience. It only makes him more anxious.
So, I’m reading whatever I can find. In particular, I’ve found excellent resources for explaining OCD to children. Here are a couple of good titles: Up and Down the Worry Hill by Aureen Pinto Wagner Ph.D and What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck by Dawn Huebner Ph.D
Some experts recommend naming the OCD, giving it a separate identity and directing the angry feelings at this named source. This particular method helps when using the boss-it-back approach. So, I was considering this approach when I had a brainstorm (no pun intended).
I found instructions for how to make a voodoo doll here, and decided I’d try to construct the voodoo poppet. I bought an armload of supplies at Hobby Lobby, including Spanish Moss (which has currently left a trail throughout the family room and my office), and I’ve stuffed that little bugger good! But that’s all that I’ve done, so far. I haven’t completely thought this through.
I do know that the doll won’t feature his face. I don’t want him to think we’re angry with him because I don’t want him to be angry with himself.
The plan (as I envision it thus far) is to yell at the doll for sending out the wrong messages and stick it with pins and say, “GO AWAY, OCD! YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!”
There’s only one problem.
I suck at sewing, and right now the doll looks like Patrick from Spongebob.
And I know my kid is going to be tempted to paste the face of Jack Sparrow on the head (wherever the head is on this thing) because his dad is currently showing him the Pirates of the Caribbean movie which features the voodoo doll.
I won’t let him be sidetracked. I want to see if this doll actually does some good.
And if it does, I have a feeling I know what my next business venture will be.
After I hire a good seamstress, of course.