Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Little OCD

We had a birthday party for our little monkey since she turned 2 on the 19th. That will be another entry all together...

One nugget of knowledge I garnered from the party is that parents that are mildly OCD (Have some level of obsessive-compulsive disorder-- an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviors you feel compelled to perform) or even more than "mildly" OCD, may have issues with certain toys or items their children own/use/receive.

I can't claim to have OCD myself, but I married an Architect and I work with Architects so I see what I call mild cases of OCD all the time. I could just be misdiagnosing the situation, but from the above definition, I'd say it's right on. For example, Rick went to grad school with a guy who had to start every flight of stairs with his right foot. Otherwise, he'd have to switch his step on the landing so his right foot would be first. Quarky, I know. Rick tries to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, among other weird behavioral things he does that I forget currently. And my co-worker today re-organized all of the shelves in our back production room because he's "anal retentive" as he puts it. It's beautiful. Everything in it's place and perfectly aligned. I just don't care that much and am far from a perfectionist (which surely has come here up before.)

The most severe case I've ever seen in person was a fellow Resident Assistant at the University of Iowa my sophomore year. His name was Eric and if you moved anything in his dorm room, even just half an inch, he would re-position it within a minute of it being moved. His phone cord couldn't drape off the desk. His pencils all had to be parallel. Papers all stacked in a right angle to the edges of his desk. It was absurd to me, but he'd just accepted it as normal at that point in his life.

I'd forgot how fascinating people with OCD can be.... until Ada's party that is...
You see, Ada has these interlocking tiles on her floor, called EduTiles, made from some sort of foam stuff. They have the letters of the alphabet and are a colorful alternative to getting her a rug. They clean much easier too. Yes, I know they say they are for children 3+ but... I don't care. The smallest part would be hard for me to get into my mouth--I don't think I could bite off a piece of it-- but a dog probably could rip it apart in less than three minutes now that I think about it. No one has chewed off the corners yet... and mind you, a few of Ada's play date friends have tried.
So, back to the story. My good friend Alex (pictured above sitting on the tiles) came to the party with his serious girlfriend Kim. Kim is a sweetheart. Super nice and friendly and fun to be around. We had 50 people in our tiny condo for Ada's party and at some point, two of the older boys decided to rip up the tile floor and throw it at each other, all while five little two-year-olds were trying to play in Ada's room. After they got busted and we made them put the floor back together, they ripped it apart again. They put it back together again too, but it wasn't square and none of the edges matched up. It was a mess. That's where Kim comes in...

Kim just happens to have a bit of OCD. I'm not sure to what extent, but she dedicated the 20 minutes following the end of Ada's party to re-assembling the floor tiles according to color and alphabetical order. All was fine and dandy until she got to the last four tiles and had to put the corners together. That's when she told me I needed to call the manufacture and tell them where to go. You see, they didn't give me the correct color combinations for a few of the letters and the corner pieces. She's ready for me to pick the whole thing up, put it back in the bag it came in - which shows a picture of the floor and in the photo the color combination is even "off", not to mention different from Ada's actual floor - and send it back to the manufacturer with a note explaining that until they can get it "right", I don't want anything to do with their products. I'm not kidding. She was visibly bothered, and probably still is slightly annoyed (so don't mention it if you see her), by the fact that Ada's floor covering just isn't designed for parents who are OCD. It doesn't balance visually and therefore, becomes extremely annoying to folks like her. Part of me laughed, but the rest of me felt really bad and will have to take her entire pregnancy to find a product for her future children that will meet her high, OCD mommy standards.

Moral of the story: OCD might keep your house tidy and organized (depending on what you are obsessive about), but it can be a real pain when it comes to children's toys. Manufacturers take note.

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