Thursday, November 8, 2012

Compulsive Counter

Last night while playing with Natalie and her kitchen toys, I noticed something disturbing.

Well, not NOTICED as in.......never knew it before, but more like a habit of mine became painfully obvious.

I don't even know if I would call it a habit, more like a compulsion?

I count.


I can tell you how many zoo animals Natalie has in her Zoo Talkers collection.
Thirteen......originally twelve but then Bear went missing and we bought Flamingo to bring it back up to the "right" number for me and of course Murphy's Law states that as soon as you replace something, you find it so Bear was located and now we're up to thirteen.

I can tell you how many pieces are in her kitchen collection.
Six milk bottles
Two old plates, two old saucers, two sets of old silverware, two new plates, two new bowls, two new cups, two new sets of silverware
Three spice bottles
Three potatoes
Two cookies
And so on...

I can tell you how many of each kind of block she has in her collection and which one is missing at any given time.
Two purple bridges
Two orange triangles
Three small pink bricks
Two long green bricks
Equal numbers of small hot pink and yellow bricks
Two long turquoise cylinders

I know that right now we are missing a monkey from her train and an egg from her kitchen.

Whew.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Everything is counted.  Everything is listed.  Everything has to be accounted for in my world.  I know how many pens should be in my desk and how many pads of different colored paper sit in my organizer.  I wouldn't say that I have a "photographic" memory but I remember things.  Everything.  Where things are located.  What people wore.  How I felt at any given time.  A conversation.  What I am supposed to do next week on Thursday at 4:00.

My brain makes me tired.

My penchant (or obsession) for everything organized and structure has always just been a quirk of mine.  Something people always pick up on and think is kind of cute, but a little weird.  Never anything that truly impeded my life but instead helped me be prepared for everything and anything.

But now I'm starting to see it in Natalie.  And it terrifies me.  This can be an exhausting way to live.  Anxiety sparks up anytime something is missing or out of place.  Shutting off my brain is nearly impossible.

I can't stop counting and keeping an internal list of everything that she has.  No wonder she feels the compulsion to clean and pick up.  I couldn't just sit on the floor and PLAY with her last night.  I used my time with my daughter to count her toys and make sure that everything is accounted for.

My chest has tightened up just thinking about it all.

I guess the good news is that I recognize the pattern.  I am relatively self-aware and hopefully since knowing is half the battle, I can wage the rest of the battle by trying to shut down the compulsive side of my brain that says to count, organize and clean.

At least when it comes to afternoons spent playing kitchen and babies with Natalie.

But my desk at school?  You can bet I'm keeping track of my colored InkJoy pens....7th graders can be sneaky little boogers.

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