I did it!  Well, sort of.  I’m sure many of you remember the meltdown I had during my first week working at the preschool and then the incident a couple of weeks later when a child had an accident and I froze.  Since that day, I have so badly wanted to be able to take care of that kind of situation on my own, but have been unsuccessful thus far.  Every time a child has an accident, I have been unable to help.  I always panic and another teacher swoops in and handles the problem.

I didn’t clean up after an accident today, but it was close.  One of the little girls was in the bathroom and somehow managed to get pee on her dress.  I was there with her alone, no other teachers anywhere nearby to save me.  This little girl needed to change clothes and I had to do it.  I took a deep breath, put on my big girls pants and grabbed the little girl a change of clothes.  And then I helped her change out of her pee-soaked dress.  And I put the dress in a bag and put it in her backpack.  I did it and I didn’t cry, not even a little bit.  I didn’t even have to fight back tears.  So it’s not quite the same because I didn’t have to clean pee off of her, but I’m proud of myself for dealing with clothes that had pee on them.  I did, however, wash my hands four times after dealing with it, but this is also improvement.  I was able to stop after four washes.  When I had a bathroom-related panic attack my first week there, I had a really difficult time breaking away from the sink.

I needed a victory, too.  I have been so tired and unmotivated the past couple of weeks.  I haven’t been doing my exposures regularly.  I have felt like just quitting.  I still do.  I won’t; don’t worry.  I just want to.  But managing the situation at work as well as I did felt good.  It just shows how far I have come in the two months I have been there.  I’m glad it happened today, too, because this week is my last week at the preschool.  It’s crazy.  Two months ago, I couldn’t get away fast enough.  Now I’m really sad to be leaving.  I don’t know what I’ll do without the kids or the other teachers.  I have grown way more attached to all of them than I ever thought possible.

These kids have taught me a lot.  They remind me on a daily basis that the contamination that I consider life-threatening is really no big deal.  If they can survive after going to the bathroom and then proceeding to stick their hands directly in their mouths before washing them, then surely I’ll make it if don’t wash my hands every time I touch something.


19 thoughts on “Triumph

  1. I’m very happy for you. Bodily functions are totally disgusting to me. I perhaps could handle urine or vomit, maybe with a big maybe esp. if I had rubber gloves, but if it was the other function, I don’t believe I could, seriously.
    That was a very big step and glad you handled it as gracefully as you did.

  2. WTG! I’m so very hard on myself, and I have to keep remembering “baby steps” add up. I’m so glad you’re giving yourself credit for what you did do rather than stressing about what you didn’t. I think you’re very brave tackling daycare? with OCD. Long ago during my college days, I worked in a daycare center, and I remember that kids LOVE dirt. Maybe a little of the “play in the mud with joy” mindset did you some good. 🙂

    1. Yes, little kids seem to find great joy in being dirty. From what I can see, the more disgusting they are, the happier they are. Yet somehow they survive and most of them live many, many, many years in spite of their poor hygiene.

  3. Hey Elly – I found you on SITS 31DBBB. I was actually supposed to visit you YESTERDAY because I commented after you, but I have a 10-week old and sometimes she just demands my attention! I like your blog. I’m definitely going to keep visiting. Hearing about your personal struggles and triumphs through OCD is pretty wild. I do not have OCD (although, I do count EVERYTHING and I spell out phrases that get stuck in my head either with my hands by my side using alphabetical sign language or I’ll draw the letters with my toes. But, I could just be a little odd). And, although I don’t wash my hand obsessively, I never thought I’d deal with poop or boogers like I do with my own child! I can’t HANDLE my husband’s snotty tissues – so nasty, but I will totally stick a nail in my daughter’s nostril if necessary. (Does it bother you to read this stuff, too? I’m sorry if that’s a dumb question, I just found your blog and will learn more as I visit!)

    1. Not a dumb question! I don’t mind. It is gross thinking about those things, but I can handle it. I have written about grosser things on here!

      1. Oh, I know why there wasn’t a link to my blog. Apparently, I was signed in with my yahoo account, which is bizarre. This should do it!

        That’s interesting about your mom and the shorthand. Yeah, the sign language is a funny thing. But, I got to use it twice! I learned it in third grade and won’t ever forget it due to my funny habit.

  4. “These kids have taught me a lot. They remind me on a daily basis that the contamination that I consider life-threatening is really no big deal. If they can survive after going to the bathroom and then proceeding to stick their hands directly in their mouths before washing them, then surely I’ll make it if don’t wash my hands every time I touch something.”

    ^^That is amazing, and so true. The toddlers and preschoolers at the day care that I worked at taught me similar things, about all aspects of my life–I think they are so therapeutic to be around! Congratulations on the major victory!

    1. It’s funny because going into it, I thought “Hey, they’re super young and know very little. I have so much to teach them!” But I was wrong. Little kids have a lot more to offer than I expected.

  5. That’s wonderful, Elly! It really does sound like the preschool was a challenging but rewarding environment to work in!

    “They remind me on a daily basis that the contamination that I consider life-threatening is really no big deal.”

    I love how you say this. Though I think I would find it really tough to work at a preschool, I often wish I had that sort of reality-check. So often I get caught up in thinking that everyone else does things “right” and I am just constantly failing to do things the way I am supposed to, when in reality, most people probably don’t think twice about these things. The reality is that kids have accidents, stick their hands in their mouths without washing them first, and play in toilet water. And adults often don’t wash their hands that well or sometimes even at all after using the bathroom, they don’t pay attention to everything they touch and when, and they will sometimes say that they would always wash under certain circumstances without realizing that, sometimes in fact, they don’t. And well, most kids and adults seem to get by just fine despite all this!

    Congratulations on sticking with your job and fighting the tough battles that you fought with OCD! Are you going back to school soon?

    1. I think I am going to miss the reality check. Part of me worries that I will quickly forget what I have learned there and I really don’t want that to happen. I worry that in a very short time, I’ll be afraid of little kids again. I guess only time will tell.

      Yep, I start school on 8/26. I’m so excited! But I’m also nervous because school = added stress = harder to fight OCD.

  6. Way to go! Taking advantage of an exposure situation when it drops into your lap can be tough. You did a great job.

    I am so glad you notice it and are giving yourself credit for it. You deserve it.

    And it’s great that you’ve learned so much and grown while working there. It’s nice that you will miss it. It will be a pleasant spot in your memories. And a spot of triumph.

    1. It’s definitely harder to embrace the random exposures than it is to do the little bits of exposure homework I have. When I come across a spontaneous exposure like this, my mind starts in “What if this is too much, too fast? Wouldn’t want to overload yourself! Maybe you shouldn’t do this one. Maybe let someone else handle it.” It can be difficult to ignore that voice and do the exposure.

      In my experience, it’s rare to leave a job on a high note. I’m fortunate in that!

  7. Kids have always played around in muck and been filthy and it has caused them no harm i belive it causes more harm using antibacterial products as it will lower their immune system causing problems when they are older. Kids may be filthy but it its to help them when they are older.

    1. Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get sick as often as I do because I use hand sanitizer too much and don’t give myself a chance to build up immunities. I’ll probably be a lot healthier when I am able to wash my hands as normal person would.

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