It’s late in the evening and Blake is in the kitchen pantry. He pulls out a box of cereal and pours himself a big bowl. He comes over to show us. It’s remarkable only because Blake frequently avoids eating from already-open packages of food. Why? Because, well, who knows how that food might have been contaminated?
“It’s the after dinner snack of champions!” remarks my hubby, as he continues to watch the college basketball game on the screen in front of him.
Blake comes over and shows us how very full his bowl is. The hubby and I both admire it. Then he pours the milk in…and hesitates. His head peers over the side of the sofa.
“You guys don’t ever pour yourself a bowl of cereal and then pour it back into the box, do you?” he asks us.
“Of course not,” my hubby replies, glancing at Blake and then back at the screen.
I perform a little inner eye roll and realize how innocuous this little exchange would look to most, except to those with OCD in their family. Blake has just asked for reassurance. He is asking whether the food is contaminated or not. Hubby has just accommodated with his reply.
Reassurance is one of those things that can be so unobtrusive and simple, like the question Blake just asked and my hubby so quickly answered. Or it can be extremely frustrating and seemingly never-ending, such as when a child asks a parent over and over, “Are you sure you washed your hands? You’re sure, right? There’s nothing wrong with it, right? You’re sure?” However it happens, reassurance-seeking can be a compulsion for those with OCD. They feel uncomfortable and then need to seek out someone who can remove that discomfort. It’s one of those things a parent learns, in treatment, that they ought not to do.
So hubby has just reassured Blake that the cereal is fit for his consumption. I, however, am feeling playful. I want to upset this apple cart just a bit.
“Blake, I don’t ever pour out a bowl and pour it back, but I do sometimes take a taste and spit it back in the box when I don’t like it.”
“Oh, Mom,” he laughs…and he eats the entire bowl.