What a heavy burden to carry, to always HAVE to produce the most beautiful or appealing craft, art, or piece of work.
From the very beginning, for as long as I can remember with our daughter, every time any of us was playing with/helping her… in the early days; stacking blocks, coloring, pasting, sorting, etc….then as she grew, making cards, painting pictures, etc., hers HAD to be the very most perfect. By everyone’s standards, HERS HAD to be flawless and we ALL had to say so. For example, if her block tower was teetering and we dared to touch it to steady it, she’d come “unwrapped” and have to start over with the blocks back in the toy basket. This made for less than enjoyable times with MANY toys and games that would have been considered very age appropriate and fun for other “care-free” kids.
Of course, I know that there are plenty of “persnickity” kids that like to have their artwork appreciated above all others. This is just normal for little kids. That’s what made this SO much more hideous when she was playing with other kids and producing projects! It wasn’t just a “spoiled kid” thing. She HAD to be the best. She couldn’t bear to even have my eyes “see” other kids’ work. I wasn’t allowed to make eye contact with any other kids at school or daycare (the two days a week that I tried to work), or speak to the other kids. This is more difficult than one would think. In fact, sometimes she would test me by asking me which art I liked best. If the kids had put their names on the front, I was in good shape. If not…yipes! Sometimes, I’d just tell her I was in too much of a hurry and I couldn’t take the time to look at all of them, so she’d better help me out, or we’d have to just leave without me seeing her work at all.
Thankfully, the parents of her best friends were just the most wonderful, loving people. They understood that many of Jilli’s symptoms and insecurities were centered around me with other children. When kids are really young, Mommy is their world (or their primary care-giver, which happened to be me). We really couldn’t have kids over to our house because there was no way to avoid me talking to them and making eye contact with them. If I gave them a snack, my daughter had to be the one to actually hand it to them. You just don’t know how many of those things are natural reflexes and you do without thinking! I broke her heart a number of times before I started thinking FIRST. It was just easier to let her go to her friend’s house. There, she seemed to rest from her symptoms, because she didn’t want/need to carry out her rituals there. When she got home, she’d be exhausted and VERY crabby. Her OCD would be in full-swing.
As she’s grown, my daughter has clung to the “if I made it, it has to outshine yours” thing. This, I will admit, has put a lid on many of my crafts. I’ve pretty much stopped most of them because they are just not as enjoyable if I can still sense, even now, some level of contest. Sometimes, after I’ve been “crafting” and all seems to be well, hours later, I’ll hear her up in her room crying. When I go up to see what it is, it’s the “Is mine as pretty as yours?” thing. It can take as long as a couple of hours to work through. Usually, she comes to terms with me having the right to knit or felt, or ?. Mostly, I just try not to do crafts that she’s interested in, but when I explore one, she usually wants to try it out. I can’t blame her for that. She doesn’t want to feel those hurtful feelings. I love her so completely. I want her to develop tolerance for things that everyone enjoys doing and takes pride in and the people that do them. Everyone likes to do their best and be appreciated. She’s very creative, talented, and gifted in many things. There are others in the world that are as well. No one person IS BEST. God made each one of us BEST at various things. Best is relative. She is so precious. So is everything she does. I want her to experience the joy of “doing” things, not the judging and being judged part. I want her to learn to exhale.