Monday, January 19, 2009

Phobiamania

Let me start off by saying that I am in a very bad mood. I am running on empty after yet another night of very little sleep. Lilah was up SIX times last night, and Finn just no longer seems very interested in sleeping at night.

Some friends had organized a play date at the park and I decided to take the kids (as in, all six of them, as there is no school today) and head over. The morning did not go well. I was already in a foul mood from lack of sleep, and the kids seemed to have their whining in high gear. It was an ordeal just getting everyone out the door.

So we get to the park and right away, DOGS. Daisy starts screaming and crying hysterically, like she does. I am already thinking we should just turn right around and head back home because I just can't deal with this today. But the boys see their friends and run off, and I'm stuck there. I'll spare the play-by-play, but suffice to say that we were there for an hour, and Daisy was hysterical THE. ENTIRE. TIME. I mean, screaming, crying, snot and drool running down her face, trembling, on the verge of throwing up/passing out hysterical.

If one more well-meaning person says something to me along the lines of "This is what she needs, to see that the dog isn't going to hurt her," I swear to god I will start screaming hysterically myself. I know people mean well. I know people don't realize the extent of this issue. But let me set the record straight: Daisy encounters dogs ALL THE TIME. Like, daily. We walk to and from school to pick Joey up, and not a day goes by that we don't encounter dogs on the walk there, on the walk back, and on the school grounds (which is a whole other issue - people insisting on bringing their dogs to school even though there is a city ordinance prohibiting dogs on school grounds, and a totally wishy-washy, ineffective principal who can't seem to keep this ordinance enforced on his school grounds). We encounter dogs every single time we go to the park. This is NOT a matter of Daisy just not having enough exposure to dogs. This has been an issue for over TWO YEARS, and despite all the constant exposure she has to dogs, the problem has, if anything, gotten worse.

One friend actually said to me today, "Have you ever considered having her see a doctor about this?" Okay, first off, wow, I just can't imagine saying something like that to someone. Secondly, yes, we have. We've talked to our pediatrician. We've talked to the school psychologist. Both are of the opinion that we should just downplay it all when she gets like that and in time, as she matures, she will learn how to cope better, even if she never outgrows the actual fear. Honestly, I resent the hell out people assuming that we're just not dealing with this issue. We are dealing with it. I can do without the unsolicited advice. I know people mean well, but these comments only raise my stress level over the whole thing.

As for Daisy, I am having a really, really tough time being patient with her about her fears. I know that I should be able to reach deep inside myself and find some well of compassion, but I think with the hundreds of hysterical episodes like this that we've had to deal with with her, that well has run dry. So I find myself losing my temper with her instead of comforting her, which I'm sure doesn't help matters.

And honestly, I am sick to death of . . . people . . . stubbornly insisting that their dogs belong in any and every place that people belong. I know that dogs are allowed at parks, but holy shit, if you see a hysterical kid who is clearly terrified of your dog, yield to the child's right to be there. After all, the effing playground was built for kids - not dogs.

6 comments:

Steph said...

So I know that you don't know me at all. I am a member at pg.org and occasionally read your blog.

I just had to comment on this post because I can sooo relate! I have a 3 year old that is exactly like this. Her phobias include dogs, wind, bathrooms, moving cars, and many random little things that would take forever to explain. The moving cars one is not all that bad until we need to actually walk through a parking lot. She freaks out and screams that the cars are going to get her. In the meantime, I can't pick her up because I am holding her very heavy brother.

She also has been, so far, unpotty trainable. for many reasons, not the least of which is her phobia of bathrooms which causes her to hold it until she gives herself urinary tract infections. I get so much unsolicited advice and I completely hear you on the dog thing. People actually seem indignant when she freaks out because their dog "is really sweet and wouldn't harm a fly."

Her phobias seem to be getting worse lately. Did you find that Daisy's have gotten worse as she got older?

Lisa said...

Steph, hi. Yes, Daisy's phobias have gotten worse as she's gotten older. And her fears are not limited to dogs. She's actually terrified of a lot of things: basically any creature that isn't of the human variety (this includes flies, butterflies, cats, etc.). She's terrified of elevators. Large trucks. Elevators. Public restrooms.

I didn't get her potty trained until she was 3 1/2, largely because she was afraid of the toilet - even the one at home. My husband finally got her to use the toilet at home (after locking himself in the bathroom with her for about an hour), but she still will not use a public restroom, which means she won't go potty at preschool and holds it for the duration. She and her twin sister are supposed to start kindergarten in the fall, and honestly, these phobias make me question if she'll be able to handle kindergarten. The school psychologist says we should plan on sending her if she's academically ready. I don't know what to do.

We have no idea where these phobias came from. She's always been highly emotional - even as a baby. The phobias started manifesting when she was around 2, and she's 4 now. It's a very, very stressful issue in our house.

Nicole O'Dell said...

Aw, so sorry about your rough day and about Daisy's fears. It must be rough to deal with and I know that people only make things worse--well-meaning or not.

audy said...

Aw, let's go get a drink.

Grandpa Joe is the same way when it comes to dogs. He's never outgrown this.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, You don't know me but two of my boys dealt with a huge fear of dogs for a few years. We couldn't go for a walk around our neighborhood without them crying and screaming hysterically. It was awful! We got a puppy a little over a year ago and their fear of dogs has finally subsided. I do totally agree with you that dogs should not be allowed in parks or at schools. I hope things get better for your daughter and that one day she can overcome her fears.

Larry said...

Hey Lisa, sorry to hear a fun day at the park didn't turn out that way. Give yourself a break about the lack of patience - you can only give so much and then there is nothing to give on some issues - Matty has always been a crybaby (for lack of a better word) and I realized when he was 2 and it seemed like he'd been crying for 2 years straight about everything/nothing that I just didn't have it in me to be sympathetic at times and I am still a very quick fuse with him and his crying even at 4 - I just can't tolerate his whining where with Nate and other kids I can hang tough longer...and it feels like your are a lousy parent I know, but you are only human :) Hopefully as Daisy reaches the "age of reason" (5 I think is when kids are truly able to reason) it will all improve - and some days you'll be able to tough it out with her hysterics and others, like Monday when you were beat down tired, you won't - and that's ok. Hang in there. L