Everything in its Place

How old can you be before you develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?  However old it is, I am sure that Mr. T either has it or is going to get it.

The miniature rooms of Charles Matton at AVA L...

A nice tidy room (Wurzeltod)

It won’t be my fault, neither.  The blame for this one will be laid firmly at the door of my wife.  I can happily leave things lying all over the house without worrying if they are in the right place or not.

Before I got married my clothes would end up on the floor, if I could even be bothered to take them off before going to bed.  Washing up was only done out of necessity when I had no clean dishes left (in order to avoid having too many dishes to wash I only ever had a couple of plates, glasses, etc).

I never actually see the mess, my eyes just seem to skim over it all and land on things that are much more interesting, like beer, computer games or drying paint.

Some people might have called me a slob.  I prefer the phrase ‘organisationally relaxed’.

My wife, on the other hand, has all her clothes colour coordinated in her wardrobe, going from white at the one end, through various shades of pink, orange, red… before eventually ending up at black.  Everything has a place and there is a place for everything.

Mr. T is certainly following in this tradition.  Everything has to be just the way he wants it.  His toy cars have to be parked all facing the same direction in a long line.  When I am building a train out of wooden blocks for him I have to use the blocks he gives me.  His two Winnie the Pooh bears have to be lying in exactly the right position before he’ll kiss them and then go to sleep himself.

The worst sin in the world is for anything to be dirty.  He runs his finger over stuff, looks at it and says in the most disparaging voice (and sometimes with an Irish accent) ‘Dirty’.  You can almost imagine him tutting at the end and shaking his head in disappointment.

He seems to have an idea that there is a right for the world to act.  And one way that it shouldn’t act is by the wrong people driving the wrong car.  It is very common in Brazil to go to a car park and leave your car at the entrance for an attendant to park it.  Mr. T hates this.  He cries and cries for ages when he sees somebody getting into ‘mommy car.’

English: Mitsubishi Pajero in off-roading, nea...

Who’s driving vovó’s car?  And they’re making it dirty! (Wikipedia)

We had assumed this was only happening because he didn’t know the person, but then last week his tio Nano (Uncle Fernando) came to visit.  Vovó and Mr. T went out to the airport to pick him up, which was great fun as he got to see all the planes taking off and landing.  When they got back to the car his tio Nano offered to drive instead of vovó.

Mr. T was inconsolable.

How could anyone else drive ‘vovó car?’  There were tears and histrionics until they gave him his tablet to watch Peppa Pig.  He calmed down and all was well until the episode finished and Mr. T looked up and realised that his tio Nano was still driving his vovó’s car.

Cue the tears all over again.

Recently we have noticed that he also associates certain books with certain people.  Mamãe tried to read The Big Yellow Digger but it turns out that only daddy is allowed to read this book.  She then tries to read a book from the Thomas the Tank Engine series, but only vovó can read these ones.  In the end she had to read the book from the film Cars.

So a two year old with OCD?  Or is my life going to become a misery with two people determined to put everything in its place?

Do/Did your kids seem to think everything should have its place?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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17 thoughts on “Everything in its Place

  1. Oh no! To my absolute horror neither of my children could ever be accused of having OCD!! You could definitely call them slobs! At times it was and still is painful for me to live with them. In all this talk about OCD it is always seen as a bad thing well I can assure you it isn’t. Why is it that the less well organised people in this world (see I am being kind to you) need us to help them find things, pay bills on time and general manage the tedious parts of their lives for them! I love my boys but oh how I wish I had children just like Mr T.

    • I thought you always loved the running around around, cleaning up and organising us part. It always gave you something to do! Wouldn’t life have been boring if everything was always just as it should be?

  2. What a post! Emanuel loves lining up his cars and yeah he does demmand somethings sometimes, but not like Mr. T. Things like who does what for him for example. He rarely allows daddy to read for him, reading time is mummy’s thing. Daddy does other things with him. My hubby is more organized, but he said he has given up as he lives in a place with three helpless individuals when comes to that. lolol 🙂

  3. Both my wife and I are organized people and I think the children will get this as well.
    Anyway, I am no OCD expert but it does sound like something is going on with your son. However, at two years old, much can still be outgrown.

  4. Hello! Our 2.5-year-old seems to have taken after her father who is possibly the cleanest and most-organised person I know. We both have desks in the same study and it’s very easy to tell which desk is his and which is mine..Maybe because I’m a teacher, I have ELT books/coursebooks/files etc etc in bookcases, on the floor, on tables, well, everywhere really. My MIL has often commented on this difference between her son and I but she’s right, so what can I say? Now baby (2.5) holds food with one hand and catches the crumbs with the other, eats INTO the paper bag when we’ve bought sth from the bakery so that she doesn’t make crumbs, insists on lining up my shoes so that they are exactly next to each other, REFUSES to ditch the socks (in 37C in Greece), and for some reason has a fit at the petrol station every time I fill up with petrol. I must say Mr T sounds delightful and very normal indeed! What you said about the books is very interesting. My husband and I only read books in English to her, whereas my Mother and MIL read to her in Greek. My cheeky husband only reads the SHORT books to her at bedtime and when she asks for another, longer book, my hubby insists he doesn’t know it. So now she’ll always ask me if I ‘know’ a book that she wants me to read. What is T into at the moment? Baby really likes Richard Scarry’s picture books at present and she also wants me to read ‘Where’s My Teddy?’ over and over again.

    • Hi Evnagelia and thanks for your comment.

      I am an ELT teacher as well and I always have books all over my office. Maybe the job is best suited to to our type of personality.

      At the moment Mr. T is into his Amazing Machines books which he absolutely adores. There are 10 of them and I am allowed to read some and his vovó is allowed to read some others.

      It is interesting what you said about socks as our son just loves to set his feet free, even when it is only 3C like today

  5. Hmmmmm…I’m not going to pretend I understand OCD and its many layers. As in, yeah, I think 2 is a little young to even worry about that stuff but then of course, we are parents so of course we worry.

    I have twin boys, now age 6. One could happily live in a pigsty. He carries scrapes, bumps, scratches, 9 stitches in his head and multiple ripped clothing choices with an air of pride. He is a happy slob. Has always been. Of course he goes crazy when he can’t find his favorite soccer shirt but that is apparently mom’s fault for putting it away where it belongs, not his.

    The other one started out life as a bit more ummm, not OCD, let’s say “precise.” His stuffed dino had to be on the correct side of him, the schedule of the day had to be kept etc. He is still less of a slob than his twin but now he is kind of a crazy scientist with interesting plaid and stripe clothing matches, shoes on the wrong feet, and on and on. He is also more than a little “avoado”.

    So, I can’t really empathize with your situation except to say that labels are never good unless the kid has really been diagnosed with the disorder. I say this as I struggle daily with the labels that come with twins–the quiet one, the messy one, the shy one…they are individuals, and if they want to color-code their closets, let it be…

    Great post!

    • Thanks for your comments and you are right that labels can be very unhelpful and that kids change very quickly.

      It is good to hear that your two have such interesting personalities. As youhave suggested, kids exhibit certain personality traits that will evolve and change n even add an adult I know that my nearly 40-year-old self is different in many respects to 20 yeasts ago.

  6. Yes, I forget it’s winter over there! The Amazing Machines series looks great, I’ll order one to see how Baby likes it. There isn’t really a lending libary with books in English for toddlers where were live so I have to buy most of the books we read. It’s quite an interesting genre I find (Children’s books) and I suspect I enjoy reading them to Baby more than she does listening to me but I won’t go asking for trouble there. I was downtown the other day looking at some ridiculously priced children’s books in one of the big bookshops in Athens when I came across a Greek publisher who imports (I think) the old Ladybird classics with audio CD (cassette in my time). They were about 6E each which isn’t bad at all (for Greece). I play the CDs in the car and Baby quite likes them! She even seems to pick up some English, which is fantastic! One day, completely out of the blue, she asks ‘Why doesn’t her stepmother want her?’ referring to Cinderella. The sentence was in Greek but she used the word ‘stepmother’ in English. I had never explained what this meant as (once again) I was not sure that she would grasp the concept. But it must have meant sth to her.. Now we listen to it all the time in the car and she even lalalas the waltz at the ball 🙂 I think you’re probably right about the job suiting our personality. Was it you who wrote a post about bilingual pre-school?

    • Greece sounds almost as expensive as Brazil, although to be fair one of the few things here that is a reasonable price is imported and untranslated books.

      I have a few CDs from books that I have never actually listened to, so I might put them on in the car and see what happens. We never know what might stick in their brains.

  7. Hi Stephen! I understand your concern but I believe is way too early to come up with a diagnosis. Relax 😀
    On the other hand, he is going through the “terrible 2” so I suppose you are having a tough time with his behavior, right? However, I kind of agree with your wife’s need of keeping things tidy and clean, but it may not be the best for a young boy who need to experiment the joy of making a mess (even he has to put everything to its right place after playing) and covering himself in dirt while having fun…

    Regards 🙂


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