December 5, 2012

This wasn’t in the brochure.

Y’all may be wondering where I’ve gone.

I’m not holed up watching “Gangnam Style” on YouTube, although I did finally get around to watching the first half of the video today and then closed the screen before I gave up all faith in humankind. I’m not busy training for a marathon, an idea I flirted with briefly before I realized that would mean that for months, my exercise would be dictated by a training schedule and I wouldn’t be able to say, “Today, I feel like hiking instead of running.” I’m not out updating my wardrobe, a task so herculean at this point that I’ve decided to keep putting it off until whatever’s in style now is out of style again, thereby rendering the whole thing moot.

If it were January, you’d know where I’ve been. But Downton Abbey doesn’t start for another month.

Mostly, I’ve been with Benjamin, who is going through his most acute phase of fears yet. This happens with him periodically, but we’ve never seen it like this. For more than a month, he has been terrified to go anywhere alone. Anywhere. If he needs to practice the piano, his sister escorts him into the living room. I stay in his room until he falls asleep at night, and he calls me to get him out of bed in the morning. He was sleeping in Lilah’s room, but she gets up earlier than he does, and wakes him. Sleep deprivation wasn’t helping matters. He is capable of going to the bathroom alone. Not at school, of course, but he’ll use the home bathroom as long as he knows someone is standing right outside, a limit I insisted upon the first time I heard, “Lilah, come in the bathroom with me; I need to poop.” At school, he needs a friend to accompany him.

This means we are never without Benjamin. Benjamin talking, Benjamin yelling, Benjamin banging, Benjamin fake burping, Benjamin poking. The list goes on. I knew how exhausting he was before, when we used to get long breaks during Lego time. I had no idea how much more exhausting he could be if he was with us all the time. Lilah, who is the most patient Rosenbaum, is pretty good-natured about the job of walking him around the house, which takes off some of the pressure.

We’ve tried riding it out, assuming it’s a developmental phase. It doesn’t seem to be waning. To make matters worse, he’s not very nice to his sister (or the rest of us) on a pretty regular basis. We’ve tried telling him, “If you want someone with you at all times, you have to treat people well.” But then he gets frustrated and snatches something from Lilah and I try to send him out of the room to cool down but he’s terrified and he needs someone to go with him but Lilah is howling because she wants her crayon back.

If you’re looking for me, I’m over here behind the large stack of empty chocolate wrappers.

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  • Reply Poker Chick December 5, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Having the same problem here. I am beyond exhausted.

    • Reply emily December 5, 2012 at 1:07 am

      Really? Wow, and you don’t have any siblings to escort Mini around.

  • Reply alejna December 5, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Oh, that does sound exhausting. Courage and hugs to you, my friend. And chocolate. (Is your supply holding out?)

  • Reply sara December 5, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Hang in, hang in, hang in. Hope you have good support. Hope that B works through this and finds himself comfortable when alone. Hope that you can find some good time for yourself.

  • Reply Heather December 5, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Oh. My. The 4th paragraph describes my son to a T. He’ll drag a 5 year old sister with him if he needs to go to an empty part of the house to get something. He can poop alone if he has a good book or a phone. Unless it is dark out. Then he needs company. (Yes. I join my 12 year old in the bathroom after dark.) He sleeps on my bedroom floor but can’t go to sleep unless I am there. If I get up at 3 am so I can have some time alone, he is aware and will follow me. So when I get up with a younger sibling who doesn’t need much sleep at 5am, he’ll join us. Exhausted and crying and wanting to sleep, but not able to be alone. He is scared. All. The. Time. I could go on and on- rushing to get chores/eating/showers/homework done because it is too scary. Paying siblings to accompany him into his own room to grab a book or clean clothes. We looked for help about 4 years ago with this. Tried therapists for him, for us and didn’t get any where. He functions fine at school, sports, etc. so we figure puberty might help he want some alone time! We call it a quirk and live with it. In the meantime chocolate helps. With lots of wine.

  • Reply melanie December 5, 2012 at 1:56 am

    That sounds exhausting, my kids (7 and 4) always want to be where we are, toys in the kitchen etc but it doesn’t seem to be fear related because they will go alone to fetch more toys to pile on my table. I keep telling myself that times goes so slowly on one hand but so so fast on the other. Both of mine will be in full day school next year and I just can’t wrap my head around how that can be true…wasn’t I JUST dealing with a screaming reflux baby?

  • Reply Heide December 5, 2012 at 3:23 am

    All I know is this: when my son was a baby, he went through a biting phase. As in, drawing blood by biting people on the collarbone. I told this to anyone who would listen, and a wise older colleague chuckled, and said, “when he’s in high school, he won’t still be biting.”

    Within a few weeks, the phase was over. And I recognized that a great deal of what The Offspring does has come in phases, and that in the midst of them, it seems as though they’re going to go on forever, but then suddenly they’re gone.

    I don’t know if the fear thing is a phase, or a chemical brain imbalance, or a reaction to your most recent move. But either it will go away on its own, or you will deal with it, with your intelligence and your strength, as you’ve dealt with all the other curve balls life has thrown your way.

    That said… good luck. I hope this one goes away easily for you. And fast.

  • Reply Coco Rogers December 5, 2012 at 4:15 am

    All I can offer is a sincere, “I feel your pain.” I hope things ease for all of you soon. Also? Lilah is my little hero.

  • Reply Móna Wise December 5, 2012 at 7:41 am

    One of our foster girls was like that and two some extent…two and a half years on…she still is.
    For the first year, it was a ‘cling-on’ where she physically would latch on to ‘anyone’ because she was too afraid to be by herself.

    This made for interesting chat with the DHL man when he did not know the ‘release’ technique. Bathroom doors had to be left wide open because of fear of being alone …….it did make for a serious head wrecking time…and unlike you I chose walking and wine…as opposed to chocolate because I do not like chocolate :0)

    I allowed her to tag along on my walks with me we if she could keep the pace then she could latch on…if not then she had to ‘walk alone’ but infront of me because Irish country roads are treacherous. Picture me walking at high speed scuttling a wee frail child ahead of me….

    She is now a jogging pro and less clingy…
    The parenting road is long with full of twists and bumps …
    You have your chocolate and I have my wine; we will be fine….and so will the kids.

    Happy holidays Emily – to you and yours from me and mine xx

  • Reply niobe December 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I was like that when I was a kid — terrified of being alone. Luckily, my little brother (like Lilah) was willing to stay with me pretty much all the time.

    Not that this is what you want to hear, but (though I was better able to tolerate them) my intense fears of being alone didn’t really go away until I left for college.

  • Reply fiwa December 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    All I can say is I feel for all of you, and I hope he finds some peace soon so the rest of you can as well. Hang in there. Send up the flag if you need more chocolate.

  • Reply Catherine December 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Is this an age thing? My son-of-the-same-age is doing the same, though not quite so severely. And it sounds like we are being much less understanding so I’m inspired to bolster my patience.

  • Reply boliath December 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Same as Niobe, as a child, I was also terrified of being alone and I was a teenager before I learned to manage it by myself.

    Good luck little B, I hope for your sake and his he grows out of it sooner than i did.


  • Reply Antropologa December 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    My six-year-old can’t be on a different floor of the house from an adult, unless she is watching TV and I a putting the baby down for a nap; then it is fine. I don’t know what the fears are about but it’s nice to know she finds us reassuring, I guess. However, it can be a veritable hassle when I just need to run and get something and she won’t stay and watch her brother and I have to bring everybody, especially since we have three stories in our house.

  • Reply Rayne DeVivo December 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    My 7 year 11 month old is the same way. Last night as punishment for sass I sent him to bed alone after his shower and he was able to lie in bed and read and go to sleep alone for the first time in… ever? I thought HALLELUJAH it may finally be over.

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