Why didn't anyone tell me how hard parenting is? And damn it, you manage to survive the sleepless nights, the colic, the projectile vomiting, the "Terrible Twos" and the year they are 3, which is so hideous there's not even a name for it. It should be known as the year of throwing one's self on the ground crying uncontrollably because mommy reflexively reached out to assist with pulling up a sock and THAT. RUINED. EVERY THING. BECAUSE. I. CAN. DO. IT. MYSELF. AND. NOW. I. HAVE. TO GET. COMPLETELY. UNDRESSED. AND. START. OVER. BECAUSE. YOU. TOUCHED. MY. SOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So you get through those years without killing yourself or your child or the dog, and they start school. And while it is true that they can spend hours sitting in a chair reading to themselves and they can dress themselves and even get their own glass of water and sleep in their own room (most of the time) and they are, for the most part, all sweetness and light, well, they start school where there are other kids and teachers and learning and STRESS.
Every child experiences stress, but it is so much more difficult for the "sensitive child." And oh man, do I have a sensitive child. Also, I have come to realized that Eric and I probably should not have reproduced. Between his deeply sensitive nature and my tendency toward Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), well, this kid is SCREWED.
I started noticing some signs of OCD back when she was three. But as I said above, three is just plain C-R-A-Z-Y so you can't think about anything other than "how do I get through the next 12 hours without walking into a mall and opening fire?" Anyway, when she started kindergarten (the year her home life imploded), she began obsessively washing her hands. She would come home from school with her poor little hands just bloody and raw. I understand that behavior because I have lived it: when life as you know it has changed irreparably, you seize control of whatever you can. For me it was counting repetitiously. For her it was hand-washing. We got through that one with a lot of love and compassion and it eventually went away.
Over the past few years (ages 5 to almost 8) there have been periods of OCD flare-ups; first grade brought on some short-lived stuff, so did David and I announcing plans to marry and her father's increasing emotional stress. Her bouts were fewer and farther between, and frankly, I thought it was over because she has grown increasingly comfortable with our family situation and she flourished in first grade, so her self-confidence soared. She was a leader amongst her friends, she was reading off the charts, her teacher was kind and loving and gave her lots of praise and support.
And then, second grade. Her two best friends from 1st grade are in a different class room and her new teacher is COLD and brisk and just NOT a kid person. Her teaching style and personality are the exact opposite of what Anna had last year, and Anna is struggling to find her place in this new world. Her stress has started to manifest itself in the constant urge to go to the bathroom. I noticed it a little bit a week or so ago, at bedtime; she's been at her dad's for the past several days and then, last night, back at home, it was in full swing. She brushes her teeth and goes to the bathroom, and then immediately feels the urge to go again. She went probably 10 times in 30 minute period. She broke down crying last night and told me that it's a real problem in class, too. She'll need to go and then, on the way back to the classroom she'll feel like she needs to go again. So she goes back and goes again, and then when she washes her hands, the running water makes her need to go again. So what is happening is that she'll end up spending 5-10 minutes trapped in the vicious cycle of feeling like she has to go and then when she gets back to class, she's missed the teacher's instructions on what the kids are supposed to be doing. So she has to sit there and figure it out herself; this makes her take too long so the teacher makes her skip recess to get it done, which makes Anna feel more isolated and, as she said, "stupid", which, of course, makes her stress and OCD go through the roof. She also told me that when she asks to go to the bathroom, the teacher will loudly announce "You're in second grade now! WE don't have to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes in second grade!" Then Anna feels like the other kids are laughing at her. It is effecting her self-confidence and could change, forever, the way she feels about school and her ability.
What can I do?? I know it is not physical; she NEVER has accidents at night, so I know she can go 9 hours at a time without going. I pointed that out to her this morning; it is in her mind but she just can't control it. Once you start thinking you have to go, you have to go. I'm just worried sick about her. I know that with time, it will pass, just as it always has. But her teacher is making it worse, not better. I sent a note to school today asking the teacher to contact me; I want her to understand that making Anna feel badly about it is only going to make it worse and last longer. If this teacher can't be compassionate to an 8 year old who is going through an emotional struggle, then she has no business teaching 2nd grade.
Do I try to get Anna switched to the other class-room to be with her friends (and the much warmer teacher)? I know that we can't protect her from every pain or challenge, but as I said, I am really worried that this could have a long-term affect on her self-confidence in her ability to learn.
Help. I really need some words of wisdom.