Growing up, our youngest son radiated happiness like light from the sun. Always curious, engaging, and full of energy was he. A deep mirthful laugh, dimples on his cheeks, and eyes that closed when he smiled.
He loved his big brother. He followed brother all over the house, darting in and out of rooms, always watchful of us all – but especially of his big brother. They shared bath time, dinner time, nap time and eventually therapy time. Our oldest had been diagnosed on the Spectrum when our youngest son was one and a half years old. That’s when our days became full of appointments; speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, doctors, and on and on. This was our normal.
Somewhere along the way, our youngest son became a serial hoarder. Distressed children do act out in all kinds of ways, and even with the most loving intentions, our house was like a battlefield trying to save our eldest son from the void.
First, he started piling toys in the corner of his room. Next, we noticed he was packing random things around in his underwear. We would look up to the top of the stairs, call his name, he’d fly around the corner (always cheerful!) and say “Hello!” There he would be, only in his Batman UnderRoos, packing an entire toy chest in his pants, with the downstairs TV remote sticking out the back! He was like a little squirrel, collecting goodies and stashing them for later. He would roam around the entire house taking any and everything. Whoa, whoa, whoa! This was out of control.
We sat him down, calmed ourselves, and had a lengthy discussion letting him know that his underwear were not to be used as hoarding device. My husband offered to take him to the shopping mall in the morning to find the perfect “Man Bag”. In the interim he had use of a small athletic bag to replace his “personal pockets”. We were talking so far over his head – just like adult humor in a Disney movie. My husband and I were practically in tears trying to keep our serious faces in place. “Now, give me back the remote, and let’s get ready for bed!”
Ten minutes later, round two tuck-in time, found us back in our youngest son’s room. Where did he go now? We heard a little pathetic cry coming from his closet. Our youngest son had managed to zip himself inside the athletic bag. Hoarder to Houdini in ten minutes flat. We had to be the worst parents in the world.
We didn’t get him the Man Bag. Couldn’t fight nature this time. In the end, we let him channel the way of the kangaroo, his own personal spirit guide. ~ Wendy Frye
(Truth? we surrendered, beat at our own game like a couple of sissy girls.)