How To Make Your Kid Crazy (for real)
Every mother thinks that her child is the most beautiful kid in the world, right?
I am no different.
And I as a young mom, I aimed to prove it.
My plan was for my son to be a model and then a child star.
I figured he could rake in the big bucks and save enough money to pay for his college tuition before he entered the second grade. Plus, I could live vicariously through him. Maybe I’d never made it to the big time in the modeling world, but he would! I pictured him in a Gap Kids ad. Or maybe it was Toys R Us.
So when he was in kindergarten, I took him to New York City for a professional photo shoot with my brother (his uncle) who was a working model. The photo session was like a big, fantastic play date. Together with my brother, my son played wiffle ball on a high-rise rooftop almost close enough to touch the Empire State Building with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.
His pictures were fantastic!
He quickly landed an agent and his first modeling job. Ha!
The pay was $125/hour for a Mother’s Day department store ad.
My plans were falling right into place.
I was so excited.
You know five-year old boys hate to wear nice clothing? And tucking a cardboard tag into their waistline against bare skin is paramount to a natural disaster?
The day of the booking I was a little nervous.
I should have been terrified.
My sweet son refused to smile. He squinted so that his eyes were like two slits. He crunched up his nose. Dug his hands in his pocket. Hid behind the woman who was posed as his mother. He stopped speaking.
I squeezed his hand. You have to smile for the camera, I said.
I hate this. He glared at me. I want to go home.
I started to sweat.
The little boy is not cooperating, I heard the photographer whisper to his assistant.
Somehow we got through the session. We left immediately. I was convinced the ad would have to be reshot.
But that’s not the worse part.
The next day, my son started to pee every five minutes.
I was sure he had a urinary tract infection.
No, the doctor said. He’s fine.
His kindergarten teacher called to express her concern.
He’s going to the bathroom every three minutes.
Something wasn’t right!
At home, I tried to not to pay too much attention to his constant trips to the bathroom, but I was growing more and more concerned.
Online I found, “Frequent urination in children reflects emotional tension. It means your child is under pressure. The symptom is involuntary, not deliberate. The urinary frequency may begin within 1-2 days of a stressful event or change in the child’s routine.” (Pollakiuria)
Oh my God! My modeling wish had screwed up my kid. I’d given him an anxiety disorder.
I’d made him crazy!
The treatment: Identify stressful emotional trigger and remove it. Ignore the frequency of the urination. Talk to the child and let him know it will never happen again. Parents should not worry; the frequent urination will likely spontaneously resolve.
Please, just stop peeing! I wanted to scream.
Instead, I terminated the modeling agency contract. I promised my son he’d never have to do another photo shoot. The whole family ignored his constant bathroom trips.
In time, things returned to normal.
He never did another modeling job.
This tear sheet is the sole evidence of his dip into show business.
Most adults I know are in therapy, trying to recover from their childhoods. I hope that my son refusing to smile for photographs is the only lasting side effect of his modeling foray. And that he’ll have one less thing to see the shrink about when he’s older.
The modeling fiasco was an early and valuable lesson for me: my son is going to be who he is, not who I want him to be.
And it’s best if I remember that!
Heather Christie is a wife, mother, writer, real estate broker, knitter, cook, exercise freak, and avid reader. When she’s not selling houses, she’s writing books and blogging about family, food, & philosophy at Heather Christie Books. You can also follow Heather on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagramchristie._