Monday, August 24, 2009

drain drain go away

The week before he started swimming lessons Hamish was finally putting his whole body, head and all, under water. Bryan and I puffed with pride. But when swimming lessons started, his newfound skill was nothing particularly special. Other kids in his class could do the same and more, and more was being asked of my son, which is of course how things go. The class was chaotic and as the session progressed, Hamish got more and more anxious, finally abandoning his beginners' class to be "teacher's helper" in Stella's Aquatot class. This was a coup as Hamish loves being in charge, directing others and feeling special. He learned the backstroke. He learned to push off the wall. He went down the water slide, no problem.
Now that swimming lessons are over, there are days when he flat out refuses to go to the pool. When I ask him why, he answers, "Drain." As in, "Duh, Mommy." Then yesterday he pooped in the yard because he was afraid to use the toilet and this morning he peed outside and brushed his teeth outside. I called the doctor. There is next to no information about childhood drain phobias online except for adult forums that usually dissolve into comments like, "LMAO! Guts getting sucked out your ass down the pool drain! Hilarious!"

But from what I have found Googling childhood phobias, they can occur when the child's self-esteem is threatened which of course finds me translating as, "You did this to him, Elise," which isn't helpful. I could try to prove to you that it's my fault, that my side of the family created this by telling you that both my parents have been medicated for anxiety and depression, and I could tell you that my own self-esteem and anger issues one way or another must get communicated and passed down to my children resulting in me covering my face with my hands and moaning, "They're totally screwed!" over and over. But then I'm sure I could investigate Bryan's family and find all sorts of reasons that it could be from his side too, or maybe that Hamish hit the anxiety DNA lotto between us.

But I'm more centered these days, at least I like to believe this, with all the yoga and therapy and meditation, and in this frame of mind, what calms me is knowing that most of us are loopy in one way or another, that we of neurotic jaw-grinding leanings are not an exception to the rule, we are the rule. What comforts me is knowing that I'm game to learn whatever I can to help him through this, and innovative enough to know that bathrooms aren't the only places to pee, poop and wash. Watch out earth, here comes Hame.


ingrid316 said...

Hey E!

First, so great to see you all this weekend. I am, of course, not nearly as far down the parenting road as you are, and thus do not presume to give you advice. But I did read somewhere, don't remember where, that one kid's drain phobia came from having a small toy go down the drain after a bath. I think that was a younger kid, though. Wondering if H. might have overheard a fear-mongering news story about the danger of swimming pool drains? There were a spate of them earlier this summer. One of them was so disturbing, it have ME anxiety attacks.

Maybe it doesn't matter where the phobia came from. But at any rate, I think your boy is a lovely, deep, imaginative child and will be fine.


vrexy said...

Full circle! That's all I could think of when I read this and remembered your previous post that started off:

"This is the second sewer in two weeks that my children have worshipped. We might have to make it an official Miller ritual. Every playground we go to, scope out the drain, then scream into it for fifteen minutes straight."

kristi said...

my kids were once so afraid of the drain in the bath that they would scream and try to claw me to get out when i would let the water out. i, of course, being the AWESOME mom that i am, forced them to sit there watching it go down, telling them "it's fine, i'm right here."

sometimes i think i make horrible decisions in this dept., but wouldn't you know, one day the phobia disappeared.

i wonder sometimes if kids just go through phases, investigating the world around them, and also somehow seeing how they can manipulate us into accommodating them? not saying your kid is doing this; just thinking my kids do this way more than i know...

Amelia Plum said...

could he be nervous about starting kindergarten?

The Poop Digger said...

As Hame and I were burying his little gift behind the garage and I was explaining to him why it wasn't a good thing to do, we discussed how poop is sometimes used as fertilizer and he suggested that "maybe a poop tree" will grow there some day. We can only hope.

elise said...

thanks for the comments friends! hame is still mui curious about drains but we've got him pooping, peeing and brushing teeth in the bathroom thanks be to god. This after his pediatrician suggested offering him a diaper! My blood ran cold. And, bonus, we went to the town pool today. Bryan the saint drew all sorts of plumbing drawings with him to educate and demystify the underground world of water and its flotsam. I, on the other hand, shout, threaten and gesture wildly. Very productive. Maybe it's time I treat it like it ain't no big thang. He might be playing it up seeing how seriously we take this, attention is everything it seems. we shall see...

vrexy said...

Great picture of the poop tree. Very funny! Also, I kind of like the idea of brushing your teeth outside.