Anxiety Boy

April 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Posted in Kids | 3 Comments
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“Mommy, you’re still here, right??”

I hear this phrase 20, 30, 60 times a day, especially at night when I have just put Brady to bed. Even if I am in the next room and he can hear me moving around, even if we have just spoken 2 minutes ago, even if I have coached and counseled and cajoled him through his fear of my disappearing off the face of the earth the second he can no longer see me and he seems ok, he still repeats this phrase almost constantly throughout the day.

That’s what it is like to have a kid with anxiety.

And that is just the tip of iceberg. E-VER-Y-THING is a big deal. In Brady’s mind, a malfunctioning toy will never work again. A lost shoe is gone forever. A trip to the grocery store is enough to send him into hysterics on the off chance that he will see a neighbor whom he has decided is scary (for no reason I can see). All of these things result in instant tantrums, complete with screaming, kicking, wailing and throwing things or running away – all with absolutely no warning. We go from just fine to completely out of control in seconds flat. And once I get him through the tantrum and back on track, every little out-of-the-ordinary happening requires a lengthy explanation of what just happened and why, when it may or may not happen again, and whether or not it is truly threatening to him in any way.

Case in point: We just returned from a short trip to Maryland to visit the grandparents. On the way through the airport we passed a baggage carousel that was just about to start up, so a light began flashing and there was a loud beeping sound. Brady clapped his hands over his ears and with a contorted little face wanted to know WHAT, WHY, WHEN, HOW???????  Once I explained to him how the carousel worked, he just couldn’t let it go. He had to hear the explanation of how the lights and beeper warn people that the bags are coming off the plane over and over and over again. He couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Going through the security line was torture as Brady could not focus on taking off his coat or placing his bag on the belt or walking through the scanner. He just had to keep asking about that buzzer and light and whether or not they would go off again. Will it go off when I put my bag on the belt? No, Brady. Will it flash and beep when I walk through the scanner? (Please, God) No, Brady. Will I hear it again when we’re walking through the terminal? No, Brady. Will it happen when we’re on the plane? NO, BRADY!!!!!!!

The poor child. And his poor mother (me)!

Kids like him can sometimes be hard to love. They are constant and exhausting. Logic is of no use. The best you can do is try to re-program their anxious thoughts and give them baptism by fire – doing a little bit of the things that scare them until they realize they can manage it. But it takes SO MUCH more work than doing things with typical kids. Some days I just don’t have the strength or patience for it and I think I just can’t handle it anymore.

And then I look at his sweet little face sound asleep on his pillow, cradled against his favorite ‘blue blanket,’ and I know I just have to keep pushing on for that innocent little mind and body. Somehow we have to get through this stuff. Somehow he will make it through the scary pitfalls of riding the school bus, playing a team sport, applying to college. Somehow he will become a strong, capable, independent man. He just has to. And I just have to stay strong for him and for our family. There’s no other choice. And it’s too late to turn back now.




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  1. Oh man, this is Ally to a T! It is so frustrating and emotionally draining! But thank the Lord that tomorrow is a new day and we can HOPEFULLY start new!

    • Stay strong, Sabrina! I know it is such a challenge with these kids but they have their special gifts, too. Brady is so smart and creative and very sweet. I know Ally is a wonderful girl and she will be just fine with a great Mom like you!

  2. No, you cannot turn back but I can’t think of one reason you should. Brady is Brady and I’d have it no other way! Love him & you.

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