When I met my wife, she was getting her masters degree in social work and introduced me to the wonders of the DSM-IV – (aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition). And for that I will always be thankful. This manual lists all known and agreed upon mental disorders within the psychiatric profession along with criteria for diagnosis. As you can imagine, it is very fun to have around at parties. Or, more to the point, *after* parties. Diagnosing friends with Narcissistic Personality Disorder while buzzed is a great way to unwind after a long night out.
But diagnosing your children is much less fun. Because little kids, as it turns out, are fucked up. All of them. Diagnosably so. Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Dependent Personality Disorder. Children pass through forms of mental illness like they’re developmental milestones. Talking? Check. Walking? Check. Excessive emotionality and attention-seeking, including an excessive need for approval? Check.
My 17-month-old daughter is currently in the Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder phase of childhood.
We gave both our kids “blankies” when they were very young. It’s a common deal – a “transitional object” as they call it, something for the kid to get attached to and use for soothing themselves. TB really took to his. I mean really took to it. TG took to hers, too. But she did not stop there; she added colored blocks to the mix, honing in on a particular size in a package and, eventually, a particular color (blue, if you’re curious). Then she became obsessed with phones. As is common with a toddler phone obsession, toy phones would not do. Giving a one-year-old a toy phone is like giving a coke fiend a bag of flour. God help you. For a while she walked around with one of our full-size cordless phones (sans battery).
She managed to lose that at the park but soon replaced it with an old Palm Treo we were saving for the Smithsonian.
She now sleeps with it. Some parents may frown on letting their small child sleep with a used cell phone. Perhaps even some doctors and social workers. I realize I have forfeited my right to judge other parents. Even those who go for the kid leash.
So, if you’re counting, that is three things TG obsessively needs at any given moment: Blankie, Blue Block, Phone. Sometimes she might also want Green Block. “But wait,” you may ask, “how can she carry all those things?” Good question. When she decides she needs Blankie, Blue Block, Phone *and* Green Block, Green Block goes in her mouth. She literally points, says “Block!” and opens up her mouth. And I put in the block. Because that is how much I have given up on parenting. In fact, I might as well just go for the kid leash now.
Basically we’ve gotten to the point where going anywhere with my 1 1/2 year old daughter becomes this scene from The Jerk: