When Chris and I were dating, he let me in on a little family secret.

They were all obsessive/compulsive. In a major way.

They all had their own special OCD quirks…

His Grandmother saved every piece of mail, letter, card, newspaper, or magazine she ever received. In very nice, neat, orderly, and organized stacks and boxes.

Also, she had a special admiration for crisp, new currency. So when she would get an unbent $20 bill, she would tuck it, for safekeeping, into one of those many letters or cards.

ESPECIALLY if she got several that were in serial number order.

You can only imagine the fun that Chris’ Aunt Kitty had when Grandma moved to a nursing home, trying to sort through all of those letters to make sure that she didn’t throw out any of her nice, new, crisp money that was now decades old.

Speaking of Kitty, she has her OCD quirks too. Chris taught me a game when we were dating: The Turn-Kitty’s-Knick-Knacks-Around Game. You didn’t even have to turn them all the way around – just turn one of those wooden cats at a ten degree angle, and watch how long it took Kitty to notice and come rushing over there to straighten it up.

Everyone in the family has their little OCD quirks, even (or should I say especially) Chris (just reference his Lego post for more details).

And then, there’s me. If you haven’t figured out that I can be a bit OCD myself, then you must be new here.

(Hi! My name is Rachel and I’m an OCD blogger. Nice to meet you!)

So you can imagine what this dual family history has created in our child.IMG_8108Copy

It includes traits like:

  • Everywhere we go, from the mall to the office to my parents house, has a ritual. She must do the exact same things in the exact same order to be able to enjoy the rest of her visit.
  • Lining things up, counting them, keeping them together, making sure that they look exactly like they did the day before…
  • hoarding.

This week has been especially full of these moments…


She was coloring with my highlighters in a very orderly fashion (blue then yellow then pink, then blue then yellow then pink) when I told her it was time to go upstairs and get ready to go.

She carefully collected all the highlighters, laboriously put the correct top on each one (including the missing top that she destroyed the rest of my desk to find), and then I took them from her and put them in my pen holder. She kept reaching for them, but I told her that it was time to go upstairs.

As we turned to walk upstairs, she turned back around and reached for the pens again.

Assuming that she was directly disobeying me, I sternly told her, “Ali, I told you that we were done writing. It’s time to go upstairs.”

She burst into tears. Not I’m-pitching-a-fit tears, but you-don’t-understand-me-at-all-and-now-I-have-severely-hurt-feelings tears.

I turned back around and picked her up to talk to her, then I noticed what the problem might have been: I had put one of the highlighters in the cup upside-down. AND to make matters worse, it was sticking up slightly above the others.

To see if this was the problem, I asked her, “What were you trying to do?”

Ali: “I was trying to fix the yellow pen!!”

I picked up the cup and held it toward her. She pulled out the yellow highlighter, turned it around, and tucked it into the cup at exactly the same depth and angle of it’s sister pens.

And then life could go on.


This morning, she was peeling herself a Mandarin Orange. She got about halfway done, and then said, “OH NO!!! I can’t eat this – I put a hole in it!!!”

I looked, and sure enough, there was a small break in the orange where her fingernail had gone too deep.

The earth-shattering tragedy.

I told her “It’s okay. Oranges taste just as good if they’re broken than if they’re not. Finish peeling it and it will be just fine.

She said doubtfully, “ooookay…” and kept peeling.

She got it all finished up and held a piece out to me and said in a sugary sweet voice, “Would you like one of my oranges, Mommy?”

“Of course, sweetie!! Thank you SO much for sharing!”

“You’re welcome. I gave you the broked piece.”

And then life could go on.

One thing is for sure: Kitty most certainly doesn’t have to worry about Ali continuing the tradition of turning her knick-knacks around.

16 thoughts on “Living with an OCD Child.

  1. Oh my! I knew that she leaned that way, but I didn't realize that she had full on joined the camp. God bless you all! ;)

  2. Sawyer and Ali should never marry. I am scared of how their children could turn out. He is so OCD. He will never eat a cracker or cookie that is broken and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Poor child has a hard life with a mother like me. He is constantly telling me I need to clean and the house is a mess. I think you should have another child :) If Sawyer didn't have Lola to constantly mess up his stuff I think he might end up being Monk!

  3. I refuse to buy anything that the packaging doesn't look perfect. it drives Brett nuts to go to the store with me. I inspect each and every mac and cheese box until I find the ones that are perfect. Then I inspect even closer to see which one is the best before putting it in the buggy. And I check every electrical appliance a bazillion times. The coffee pot cannot be plugged in, even if it's off. and I tap things in increments of 5. If you turned my stuff around I wouldn't notice. If the pen were in wrong I wouldn't notice. If you walked across the carpet in shoes, I'd notice. And then spend the rest of the day obsessing over how many germs were on the bottom of your shoes.

  4. That is so funny about the orange. K is really particular about some things, but I don't think she is OCD b/c she totally doesn't mind making messes all over the entire house and she would leave them there for days…probably weeks on end, if I would let her. :P

  5. I love that you totally knew which highlighter was out of place and why she was upset. :)

    I wish my daughter had a bit more OCD tendencies. She is just like her father, and everything of hers is strewn about the house.

  6. I'm so happy I checked in on you. :) I've never wasted a second if I leave..happy or refreshed or "tearing up a bit." Today, I just enjoyed hearing about Kitty, Chris, and beautiful Ali. How wise of you to be documenting her precious little life. Since I did not blog, I have to "remember" (challenge) all the wonderful things about 4 children. Luckily, I can remember most on MOST days.
    I love you. You make me laugh..and you make me "tear up." Both are good for me.
    I'm glad my Rachel found you.

  7. My son is almost the exact same way. He HAS to go in a certain order when getting ready for bed. He HAS to have socks on when he goes to bed, whether he wears his pants or not. He gets some of it from both sides. I have a few thing that I am absolutely OCD about. I scream at people who squeeze from the middle of the tooth paste tube. His mom is extremely ocd about having the house clean (not such a bad trait).

  8. That's so funny that she's already showing several OCD tendencies!
    I don't know ANYTHING about OCD…Ali & Ryan have a lot in common ;)

  9. Why should I believe Ali will not carry on the tradition of messing with my stuff when BOTH of her OCD parents do it? Gocha!

  10. Yup. Same same here. Me and the kids, and the husband too, although he tries to hide it, to no avail.

  11. We all have our OCD tendencies I think. When my son was 2 1/2 he would freak out when we got into the car. Not because he was afraid or didn't want to go anywhere, but because he didn't know how to get there as in he didn't know the directions. I basically had to either draw a map or give him step by step directions as I drove. I would say we'll turn right out of the driveway, then right at the stop sign, drive and turn left…..Telling him mommy knew how to get there didn't help. HE had to know how to get there. Thankfully he outgrew it in about 6 months. Even now though at 10 yrs he worries about how he will know how to get places when he can drive. He's a gifted child and he worries about the craziest things.

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