Sydney was diagnosed years ago with an unnamed anxiety disorder. I see the signs daily, some days being worse than others. There are so many little things I notice about her insecurities. One of the things I wish I could help her with the most is her constant need for reassurance from everyone around her, mainly me. She has to double check and triple check every answered question. It goes something like this: “Can I have this last cookie?” An affirmative answer would mean she will ask again: “Are you sure it’s okay?” I will assure her it is fine. She’ll take the cookie and then comment, probably more than once, about how she hopes it was okay to eat that cookie. It is no fun for her or for me. It gets old.
|Sydney and Riley|
This morning Sydney asked if she could wear the same shirt she wore yesterday. I said she could as it had been washed the night before and was back in her drawer. It’s a new shirt with a cow on it. After I said she could wear it again she asked, “It’s really okay? I just wore it yesterday.” I said it was okay because it was clean. She said, “Okay, if you are sure.” A few minutes later she came out of her room in a different shirt, not the new one. What shirt she wore made no difference to me but I knew the anxiety of not being SURE it was okay with me is what kept her from wearing the shirt and that is the part I hate for her. So, I tried to talk to her about it, as I sometimes do, knowing it probably will not make a difference of any kind. But I have to try. One of these days something might click.
I grabbed a lotion bottle next to me and a small pill bottle next to it and told Sydney I wanted to put on a play for her. I said, “This lotion is a mom and this little bottle is her little girl.” Sydney giggled and got very interested. I had the small bottle scoot over to the lotion and ask, “Can I go outside and play?” The lotion said, “Yes.” And the little bottle ran “off to play.” Then I said I was going to show her another way it could be done that was not nearly as easy. This time I had the pill bottle ask “Are you sure it is okay?” a couple of different ways after the lotion-mother gave the bottle-child permission to go outside. Each time the mother answered it was okay to go outside. Finally the little bottle ran off to play. Sydney loved the little skit I put on and she loved the attention. I talked to Sydney about how much simpler her life would be if she would just take the answer I gave her the first time and did not ask the same question over and over. I told her the first little girl would get to go out to play sooner and asked if she would rather be the first little girl or the second little girl. I thought maybe I was getting through. Maybe. I asked her, “Do you get it?” She said, “So you want me to ask if I can go outside and play?” Insert heavy sigh. This is my life. Sydney just cannot connect the dots much of the time.
|Sydney, June, 2015|
Sydney’s anxiety and insecurity manifests itself in other ways. One of the things I wish she could get past is a constant need to apologize. All day long she apologizes. She uses the word “sorry” more than anyone I know. If she does not hear me and I have to repeat myself she apologizes. If she sneezes and I glance her way she apologizes. If she asks me for a drink and I have to get up to get it she apologizes. If she doesn’t feel well and thinks it might inconvenience me she apologizes. I reassure her all day long. Sometimes I lose my patience from being so patient.
And of course, because Sydney knows that her asking the same question over and over for her own reassurance is something I’d like her to work on, she apologizes now after asking the multiple questions. So after she asks if she can go out to play or wear a certain shirt and gotten permission and reassurance, she’ll then apologize to me for asking so many times. Wow. That little fifty-pound girl walks around with a very heavy burden I’m thinking. I tell her so often there is no need for her to apologize. I tell her that “sorry” only needs to be used when she’s hurt someone or made a big mistake. And now I’ve even somehow got her saying “sorry” for saying “sorry” so much. Being Sydney’s mom is like walking a tightrope. But I’d walk it across the Grand Canyon if I had to because my little girl needs me and I can do this. I will have enough confidence for both of us.
For more about Sydney's diagnosis, see The F in FAS does not stand for Fun.