I come by my anxiety honestly. I was told a story about my great grandmother; On a return trip from Florida via train she took the keys to her house out in Washington DC and held them in her hand for the rest of the trip just so she would be ready when she got to her house. She lived in Rhode Island. We joke that my grandmother was “born nervous and then anxiety set in“. And my mother… well let’s just say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Next in the lineage is me. I admit I am completely neurotic. Completely.
When I think about McDonald’s play place all I see is a giant petri dish of germs. In fact I nick-named it the 'meningitis factory'. This past week my friend asked me to go bowling. I just laughed. I mean to stick my feet in those shoes… there just isn’t enough hand sanitizer in the universe to get me through an afternoon of bowling. So this kind of neurotic behavior affects my son because my perceived “grossness” of these places negated opportunities for fun play time.
Anxiety doesn’t have a rhyme or a reason, it pops up in all sorts of fun random places. Participation in a play date with lots of people in a large public place like the Zoo never happens. I get overwhelmed in large crowds. I get overwhelmed when there are lots of people in a small space. I get anxious when I am in a room full of people I don’t know well. And I know that my anxieties affect my child. I noticed all these things happen to my little man as well. It crushes me that I have passed this on to him. I hoped since the anxiety level decreased with every generation and he would be completely normal. This is one of those times where I wish he wasn’t so much like me.
The good news is after almost six months in pre-school he is really well adjusted. He sought out friends and created friendships. His confidence increased ten fold. His “acclimation” time decreased. All very, very good signs that my son’s grandchildren will not hear crazy stories about their neurotic grandfather. Their great-grandmother on the other hand, well…that is a whole different story.
Rhiana Menning is a wife, domestic goddess, and mother of one four year old boy affectionately known as Captain Chaos.