When I write my book, I have two titles floating around my head “My life on the toilet” or “My life on the stairs.” It’s not what you think. And I know, it is not super exciting by any stretch of the matter, but I spend 88.45% of my life sitting on the toilet or the stairs waiting for P to get over socks itching his feet, shoes squishing toes, toothpaste tasting so bad, water hurting his head, shirts with a hurting tag, or soap that smells disgusting. There are days that these issues are just a bump in the road. We discuss, fix, and redirect. Then there are days where these issues are all consuming mountains with nearly impossible peaks to reach. The discomfort is real for P. His reaction is firm and unyielding. No matter what I say with a loud voice, quiet voice, loving voice, or exasperated voice it sends P into panic mode. So, I spend most of my life sitting quietly on the toilet in P’s bathroom or our front stairs waiting as patiently as I can to help P through this latest round of sensory discomfort.
P is pretty particular about his clothes of what is acceptable and what feels right on his skin. If you should happen to suggest to maybe not wear the same shirt for the third time this week or something is wrong with the clothes he will take a moment to let you know about it. Currently, all clothes except for socks are to be worn inside out. Why? The tagless shirts that are supposedly sensory friendly still are uncomfortable for P. I wish I knew how to help P not wear clothes inside out. But, he’s happy and willing to the leave the house, so right now that is not my cross to die on.
The other day P was really struggling with clothes especially his underwear. We were already tardy for school, so I said to P why don’t you go commando to school. Even as I was saying those words I was wondering in my head does he know fully understand what I just suggested. P thought for a moment, wrinkled his nose, “Commando? You mean no underwear?” I chuckled considering how well I know this kid standing before me.
I told P if he’s uncomfortable with the underwear, he can go to school with no underwear under your pants. He questioned me with an “All day?” P considered the deal pondering it for several minutes and then agreed that it would be a good idea. P took several more moments to regroup. We made it to the front door, coats on, socks and shoes on, backpack in tow when I hear HANG ON.
P yells “I can’t do this it feels wwweeiirddd!”
I sigh and sit down the steps wondering if we would ever make it to school. Sensory processing disorder is real. It is true. I’m watching my son struggle immensely with it at that moment. I ask P “What can we do to fix this?” Really, though on the inside I was yelling
He agrees that finding appropriate underwear would a good idea. So, he goes back upstairs to his room. I can hear him rustling around as I watch the clock tick tock the minutes away. He comes back to the entryway wearing entirely different pants, shirt, and socks. He is holding five different pairs of underwear. I
I nervously ask, “P, did you put on a pair of underwear?” P says, ” I ddoonn’tt knooowwww.” (P is sniffling and trying to hold back tears. I can see he is truly frustrated.) ” I juussstt want my purple underwear.”
Oh, so now we are getting somewhere. P loves his fruit of the loom purple briefs with the very very soft waistband. It is always in the wash because that pair of underwear is always in the rotation of what I call “clothes P will wear”. I was excited that P was trying to problem solve for himself. He wasn’t relying solely on me to fix this for him.
The search for the purple briefs ensued. It only took two trips to the laundry room, one call to dad at work, one text message to dad at work to confirm the last known whereabouts of the purple briefs, one more trip to the laundry room, and then P hit the jackpot dumping out the laundry basket on my bed to find the purple briefs at the bottom.
I had one happy child on my hands. I could see him calming down. As we drove to school, I was thinking about sensory processing. Kiddos with sensory issues have trouble handling info their senses take in such as sound, touch, taste, sight, and smell. I know that P can have difficulty focusing on watching and listening someone speaks. More often than not if he can doodle or have a fidget in his hands, he will repeat word for word what the speaker presented. At times, P can experience too much or too little stimulation to sensory input. The physical sensations are overwhelming to him–case in point with the purple briefs.
When I dropped P off at school, I asked if he’d be OK. He nodded an affirmative nod. We parted ways by the front door. With a confident thumb’s up, P says, “Love you, Mom.” “Love you too P!”
All my best to you,