More and more, as Sky gets older, we’re seeing how everything in his world has to be just-so. Sky can spend an hour preparing to draw, simply because he has to organize his work space first. He often won’t get under the covers when I put him to bed at night because, as he says “I don’t want to mess up my bed.” He spends a long time straightening and making his bed. The only reason I get to tuck him in is because he uses a small, velvet cape as a blanket. Everything has to be just-so in his environment, or it causes him a great deal of anxiety and frustration.
As a favor this morning, Daniel poured two packets each of Cinnamon Roll flavored oatmeal into two separate bowls for Sky and Prasad. He did that so I would only have to add milk later. He left the bowls on the kitchen counter as we went about getting Liam ready for his bus. A few minutes later, Sky walked into the kitchen and started pacing around, looking down. He mumbled to me “You shouldn’t do that. You can’t do that.” I could barely hear him, and I asked him to speak up. “You can’t leave the powder out like that. You shouldn’t do that.” He kept pacing around, looking at the floor, and wouldn’t look at me. He was deeply serious, and seemed very bothered. By “powder” he meant oatmeal flakes. I asked him directly why I couldn’t leave the powder in the bowls. He responded with a long pause. It was clear that he didn’t know exactly why, just that it bothered him. Then, after about ten seconds he thought of a reason, “Because a fly could come by and land on it.”
This whole thought process concerns me, and maybe it shouldn’t. How many nearly 9 year old boys are concerned about such things? We had no flies in the house whatsoever, so it was completely irrational. He has a system in his mind that he likes us to follow, and we weren’t following it. He wasn’t okay with that. The thought of flies reminded me of how the night before he looked out our sunroom window after dinner and saw our dog’s blanket hanging over a chair to dry. There was one fly on it. He asked us “What are we going to do with that blanket now that it’s been outside?” I was confused, of course. Yes, it had been rained on, but it was drying. I asked him what he meant, and he went on, “Well, there are flies ALL OVER it and it’s DISGUSTING. We can’t keep it. “ When Sky uses the word “disgusting”, believe me, you can really feel his disgust. I looked outside and saw one small fly on it. Daniel and I both responded, “We’ll wash it. It’s no biggie.” Sky became quiet, and shook his head, and his back quivered as if his skin was crawling. One fly was many to him, and he believed we should throw the blanket away. To live in his mind a day would be fascinating, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be very comfortable.
The older Sky gets, the more critical he’s becoming about our surroundings and how we do things. It’s not just about being tidy any more. Things have to be a certain way. I’m starting to tell him that when he grows up he can choose to have his home however he wants it, but for now he has to accept the way we do things. I have to gently put my foot down, and try to smile through any sense that he’s criticizing or controlling our ways. Maybe in the long run it will help him that I’m less structured, more laid back, and more intuitively driven. Or maybe it will send him over the edge… I don’t know. There are times I can see he feels deeply misunderstood, and it’s heartbreaking. I don’t think he even understands himself most of the time.
Quirky, or full blown OCD? It’s a mystery, or it might just be something that I don’t want to think about. For now, I guess all we can do is love him (very easily done), and keep flies off the oatmeal!