Sharing His Woobie With Me

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

“Like this, Daddy,” Lucas explained to me.

We were sitting on his bed and our heads were close together, looking at his woobie, a little bear with a small blue blanket attached to it. Then he took his woobie, and folded it over his finger so the satin band that wraps around the edge of his woobie was all that showed. The moment was so intimate, I feel like I need to write in a whisper.

Then he rubbed it against my lips, the way I have seen him do it so many times to himself.

“Feels nice,” I told him.

“Or you could put it here,” and he rubbed it against my forehead.

There’s a certain joy he seemed to feel showing this to me and I think I know why. His showing me what he does with his woobie is his way of showing me how he copes at night, how he deals with the dark when he can’t sleep, but doesn’t want to wake us up.

It is a sense of accomplishment, “Look what I did, Daddy.”

But I am slightly disturbed by the whole experience.

On the one hand, I think it is wonderful that he has taken the tools we’ve tried to give him and adapted them to what he needs. It is not just the woobie that makes him feel better, it is the feel of the satin rubbing against his skin. I also suspect it is not only the feel of the satin that feels good, but that the repetition of rubbing it against his skin that must also help calm him down, to relax him a bit so he can more easily fall back asleep.

On the other hand, Dorit doesn’t have anything like this. She does not have any coping techniques to deal with the night, because she is not scared by it. But he is and seeing him teach me, share with me how he uses his woobie to feel better, gives me a vision of him lying in bed, late at night, in the not so dark, but still too dark of his room, looking up at the ceiling, not wanting to bother us, rubbing his woobie against his lips to try not to feel so scared, hoping he will fall asleep soon.

He is that way because of my genes, because of my family traditions, and I wish I could make it so he never had to deal with it at all. But I have to console myself with the belief that though I can’t remove the anxiety from his life, I have done enough to help him live with it. He does go to sleep at night for the most part without any trouble thanks to his woobie, his Happy Thoughts and All The People That Love him. He sleeps through the night most of the time for the same reasons.

Still, I wish there was more I could do.

Laughter Like A Magical Healing Potion

By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT

Somehow, I managed to once again survive the day and night. I spent the whole day on the verge of tears, feeling on the edge of another terrible flashback, moments away from a crying binge that I didn’t want to happen in front of my colleagues at work. People noticed I wasn’t my usual self, but what was I going to tell them? “Just read my blog?” I don’t think so. But I listened to music, ate a chocolate croissant and a couple of big chocolate chip cookies (chocolate is almost always the key to surviving days like this) and I made it – despite the terrible nausea and anxiety gnawing at me all day long. When Gem picked me up at the train station, I we hugged and I never wanted to let go. I have never felt safer in my entire life than I do when I am in her arms.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Gem went to Yoga and there was a school meeting she went to so it was Los Tres Amigos time with the Okapis. We ended up going to McDonald’s where they had the Chicken McNuggets Kids’ Meal and I couldn’t eat anything at all. Thankfully, they ate pretty well and I had already decided that last night was a good night to be a bit more lenient than I am normally. No reason to get myself more upset than I already was – especially since when I’m like that I have no patience whatsoever. We had a nice chat and they behaved very well. At one point during dinner, Dorit – who seems like she has been missing her daddy the past couple of days – got down from the table and came over to give me a hug.

“I love you, Daddy.”

“I love you, too, Sweetie Girl.”

I held onto her for as long as she would hold me and when I looked up there was an older man sitting in the table behind us. He smiled at me, having seen my moment with my little girl – even though he had no understanding of what it felt like to feel pure love at that moment in my life.

The rest of the night also went smoothly though I just didn’t have the heart to fight with them to brush their teeth so we skipped it.

Because we were early, I picked two pretty long books to read them since we had the time. We read Three Little Pigs for first time, which was pretty interesting (that Goldilocks was just not a nice person – definitely did not use her manners and etiquette). Then we read Cat in the Hat (for those who don’t already know, I’m a big Dr. Seuss fan) and somehow I felt able to act out the different voices for the Cat, the Fish and the little boy, which obviously makes the experience much more enjoyable for my Okapis (for me, too, even though I constantly change the style of voice because I forget what I was doing). Those two books were almost 20 minutes combined and they were captivated. It was quite awesome.

Then I tickled them and tickled them. And then tickled them some more. Their laughter was like a magical healing lotion, covering my body with good feelings, with love, seeping into my soul where it has been so dark for far too long. After I read them Paddington Bear, I tickled them some more and they enjoyed it so much that they would roll away and then come closer and kind of lay there until I tickled them again.

It was truly a wonderful way to end my day.

As I was tucking them in and going through their Happy Thoughts, Lucas started his “And Daddy?” routine again and I couldn’t take it. Despite how positive the evening had been, I was not in position to go through this again.

“Lucas,” I said, trying not to yell at him. “I’m not going to play this game with you. I can’t do it. You want me to be nice to you, but then you only get more upset until I have to be not nice and I don’t want to be not nice to you, Lucas. I really don’t. Can we just be nice to each other and you fall asleep?” I don’t know if he heard the desperation in my voice or saw the tears welling up in my eyes, but he responded by saying,

“And Daddy?”

When I looked at him again, he blew me a kiss and then put his head back down on the pillow.

I blew him a kiss right back and walked out the door. They both slept all night long and were still sleeping when I left to catch my train this morning.