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Have some OCD. It’s on me.

Hmmmm, I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to get to the bottom of what’s making me OCD. I’ve noticed that I’m starting to pass it on to Noah, and I’m not sure I like that.

For example, I have a very hard time drinking out of any cup that is not brand new and disposable. For some reason I’m convinced that any tumbler or glass out of the dishwasher or sudsy sink is still covered in the grime of whoever last used it. Ridiculous, I know. I usually keep an entire shelf of my fridge stocked with bottled waters which I go to first. If I run out of bottled water, I move to the big red disposable cups. You know which kind I’m talking about. The ones you can get in 10,000 packs at Costco.

Yes, I know, I’m an earth-hating-Polar Bear-killing horrible person. Or, I just don’t like drinking poop.

Well, apparently Noah has noticed that daddy always goes for the bottled water. The other day he asked me why. I tried to explain without pushing my unhealthy fears onto him.

It didn’t work. He’s been turning down his little kiddy cups ever since.

When he did it this morning, I told Noah that he needed to use a regular cup, and that there was nothing wrong with them. “But, why don’t you use regular cups, Dad?” he asked. I do! I told him. He knew I was lying, and he pulled a trick that I didn’t realize a 3-year old was capable of pulling. “I don’t want to drink out of that cup unless you drink out of one too!”

I don’t care, I’d love to drink out of a cup like that! I emphatically declared. He laughed as I grabbed a tumbler and filled it with ice water. “Drink it!” he yelled. You promise you’ll use these cups if I do? I asked him. He promised. I put the cup close to my lips and…

I couldn’t do it. I could not make myself drink it, and finally I poured the water into the sink. Noah laughed and chanted over and over that he didn’t have to drink from the “yucky cups.”

It’s definitely not a good thing. I know they’re clean. I know they’re fine. Yet, I still can’t mentally do it. My whole family loves making fun of me for it. They tell me they’re going to tie me down and force me to get over it. I don’t want Noah growing up being paranoid like his old man. Maybe I’ll have to let them.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS, I’d love to hear your comments. What have you passed along to your kids (or what are you afraid you’ll pass along to your kids)? And, anybody have any idea how I can get over this quirky little problem? It drives me crazy!

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278 comments
AngelBrookins
AngelBrookins

I can't stand to eat or drink from plastic dishes. This stems from a mother that left soap residue on everything, and even when you rinse it well before use, tupperware will make your food taste like whatever was left on it last, including soap. My kids definitely picked this up, in spite of the fact that they've never had to endure last night's soapy leftovers. As soon as they were old enough to be trusted with the glass plates, we disposed of the last of the plastic ones forever. 

MicheleClarkPowell
MicheleClarkPowell

I have many of these thoughts but you put most away once you have children since there is zero possible way to avoid that which is icky. ZERO. And this is what I tell myself, "In this life you must built a tolerance to all things icky." To avoid that which make you squirmish is to ultimately make yourself susceptible. Kind of a futile action in the end. Personally, when the zombie apocalypse hits I want to be a survivor. You kinda have to have built up a tolerance for all things germy (yes, not a word... blah) and infectious to do this. Oh, and learn to use weapons productively. And have a great pair of boots and a jacket that makes a statement. Sigh. Have I mentioned that my favorite books of all time are the Dark Tower Series by Stephen King? My imagination runneth over... “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” Swoon.

laughingmom
laughingmom

There's nothing like exposure therapy.  All at once or in little steps.  And it's a great chance to show your kid how to overcome fears :)  Since this post is practically antique by now, I'd love to hear how you're doing with this.

RachelWillard
RachelWillard

After reading several of the comments in this thread, I watched "Tapped." Probably one of the most shocking, eye opening Docu's I've ever seen. We have to make a change NOW if we want our children and their children and their children's children to even have a chance at this beautiful, crazy life. A bit off from the OCD topic, but I hope you watch it too, and if you don't agree, I hope you at least recycle! haha

Guest
Guest

Hi Dan,

 

I'm a 35 year old woman, but I want to address your post from a child's perspective because I grew up with an OCD dad. I'm sure I was born with OCD tendencies of my own, but watching my dad go through his "rituals" always made me tense and increased my anxiety, which triggered my own OCD tendancies. So though I didn't actually pick up my dad's unique OCD rituals, I invented my own rituals, and these were made much worse by being exposed to my dad's own anxiety and the anxiety I ended up feeling by issues related to my dad's OCD. (ex: becoming anxious about undoing any of my dad's rituals or even "doing something wrong.") My own OCD also gave me a way of addressing other anxiety-causing aspects of my life without actually dealing with the underlying emotions I was avoiding.

 

As an adult, I went through years of therapy to identify my feelings of anxiety and to find better outlets for them than to succumb to living an OCD lifestyle. I cannot tell you how much this has changed my life for the better, and I hope, one day, when I have my own children, I will be able to pass down to them healthy ways of dealing with their emotions.

 

Though it sounds like you are already considering this, I hope that my experience encourages you to help your son by helping yourself, and I will be sending you my absolute best wishes.

MeaghanClimis
MeaghanClimis

One of the OCD things that I have is that I ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT step or walk over those drainage grates or sewer grates. I am TERRIFIED it might break and I'll fall in. Practically impossible I know, but I've passed it to my four year old little boy. 

angelynnd1
angelynnd1

Hi Dan,

I just recently joined your blog and this post caught me right away.  My son was diagnosed with O.C.D. three years ago.  He has had cognitive behavioral therapy, and it really does work!  The O.C.D. was very sad and scary when it began.  His brain was throwing him all sorts of crazy curve balls.  He has learned some great techniques for dealing with it, and he is a happy kid again.  The main thing is to not let the anxiety win.  It's a greedy disorder, and when you give in to the anxiety it will just keep requiring more and more of you.  There is a genetic component to anxiety disorders so getting some tools to help yourself with this will really help you later if you see Noah starting to struggle.  Peace!  -Angie

Rheanna Ware
Rheanna Ware

i'm sure you've gotten this message already, one way or another. I'm watching Tapped right now (available through Netflix streaming) and it's scary how UnSafe bottled water likely is in comparison to tap water and a glass (made of glass).
While watching, I remembered this post and, because I have gotten such great insight into myself from reading your words, I feel compelled to pass along at least the recommendation that you watch the movie yourself.

T. Mayer
T. Mayer

Buy yourself a microscope and do an experiment to convince yourself that after running a glass through a dishwasher (maybe use the "sanitize" cycle) does, in fact, get rid of the germs. You may even want to examine your water bottle after you have been drinking out of it all day :-)! Check Myth Busters - who knows maybe they have already done this little experiment for you.

Jasmine
Jasmine

Did you watch War of the Worlds? the Tom Cruise one? GERMS SAVED US!!! lol jk all joking aside we all have some OCD tendencies. My coworkers tease me because things MUST be sorted by color for me, I can not "not" (ya i know, double neg) fix my pegboard if the other therapists dont arrange it correctly when done, and the colored rings on the shoulder arc must all be ROYGBIV, they purposely mess it up and tell our patients to sick back and watch the show because they know I cant refrain from fixing it. At this point I can still laugh it off because my kids are tornadoes and everything is a mess while they're awake, but once they're in bed, yes, i rearrange the crayons in the box before i can sleep!

Erin Blodgett
Erin Blodgett

watch the movie Tapped. Its on Netflix streaming. It will teach you about how bad the bottled water industry is for the earth.. and also you! The movie Blue Gold is good too, but Tapped is specifically about the bottled water industry. Cheers!
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OCDsometimes
OCDsometimes

Let your family tie you down....seriously. The quickest way to get over your fear is to face it, full force. In a few days when you realized it DIDN'T kill you, or make you sick, you'll be fine. Fact- the food we eat has WAY more germs than a bathroom door handle.

Amy Veliquette
Amy Veliquette

I wonder if you washed your cups with bleach? If you rinse well it should be safe... if you can wash baby toys in diluted bleach then I'm sure cups would be fine! ... You could even get a pitcher with a filter so you don't have to drink/use regular tap water. ... http://www.walmart.com/ip/3M-Filtrete-Water-Stati... This could be cool too - individual bottles that you wash and use again.

Marina Reede
Marina Reede

hey, anytime my daughter does something i might not like i immediately say to myself or whoever i'm talking to "product of me!". can't be mad about it because it comes from me.
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Jasmine Hollingsworth
Jasmine Hollingsworth

just to play devil's advocate... and someone may have already pointed this out but i'm not going to read through all 262 comments (sorry)... there are probably MORE dirty, grimy, germs on your water bottles and disposable cups than the ones coming out of your dish washer. ;)

Emily
Emily

I have been thinking about this too! I can be OCD about so many things. A lot of things have to be done a certain way and it explains why I now have an OCD 4 year old daughter who drives me crazy :-P

phrynozoid
phrynozoid

I have emetophobia. I'm TERRIFIED of vomit. I would rather jump off a cliff than barf any day, and I'd rather jump off a cliff than be in the same room with someone who even possibly MIGHT yak on even a good day. It is nothing short than completely all consuming soul destroying TERROR.
I have a 3 month old daughter right now. Spit up doesn't bother me one tiny bit. I don't care at all. But once those solids start, then comes the real puke.
I really don't want her to have to deal with this fear. My phobia made my pregnancy miserable, it affected my career choices, it affects where I go, what I do, when I do it...my husband even previews movies for me in case there is a vomit scene.
I don't know how not to pass this on to my daughter. I don't know how I'm going to handle her first stomach flu. Or her second. Or her tenth. I know I will find a way. I hope that she takes after her daddy and thinks I'm silly and that barfing ends up being something that just happens to people sometimes, not something to dread that looms over her every day of her life.

Jenn
Jenn

My kids are OCD on their own. I once asked them to count their cars, a distraction tactic so I could make dinner. When I went to tell them dinner was ready, I was that they'd lines their cars up no only by color but by type of vehicle too. They were 3 & 5 at the time...
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Taen
Taen

Why would there be poop on a glass? Hot water and soap takes care of just about everything! (Although I wouldn't blame you for not wanting to drink out of dishwasher-cleaned glasses...those always look scummy to me. I hand-wash everything.) This will probably gross you out, but the poop is much more likely to be in the water (coliforms!), which is why there are such stringent water quality tests for tap water. Unfortunately there isn't as much quality control for bottled, but that isn't so bad considering that most bottled water is just somebody else's tap water stuck in a bottle and then sold to you for an exorbitant price.

If you're really so worried about unclean glasses then give them a dip in a diluted bleach solution after you wash them. The bleach will disinfect your glasses and evaporates when it dries so it's okay to use afterword.

Abby
Abby

I have the same issue. I cannot use and dishes that are not perfectly clean. Therefore, I buy antibacterial dish soap and SCRUB everything with tons of soap. It takes extra effort and time, but I hate the nasty plastic smell of disposable cups so I'd rather just buy three times as much dish soap as a normal household.

Carol Sylvia
Carol Sylvia

Guilty. But,not with cups and water. Trina hit the nail on the head! I have to match head to toe. Clothing, underwear, outer clothes, gloves, etc. Once bought a car (vs another one just as nice) because it matched my front door. Once my then 7 yr. old walked in on me getting dressed, and said,"Wow, mom! You really are having a bad day! Your underwear doesn't even match your outfit." I knew then it was becoming an issue. Have I changed? No. I just make sure he doesn't catch me again:)

Restlessmind
Restlessmind

I've recently noticed that I have to check that I have my wallet, cellphone and keys over and over again -out loud. One day, my 5 yo daughter finished the checklist for me. It was when I realized I'd gone too far. My case has been inspired by a traumatic event when I left one of those things. What happened in your past that has something to do with dirty cups?

kylie
kylie

i have soo many weird fears that i have tried not to pass on to my kids. i explained to them that my brain works diff to theirs. they understand and we all make light of these things together. try putting it in a dialouge that he would understand at his age with a bit of humor too. maybe that your brain is a little bit broken and wont let you drink from cups. or that its thinking backwards or something. then make a point of directing his attention to people drinking from cups. good luck with it. i know how you feel and each child understands things differently.

Melanie
Melanie

Watched the movie Tapped.

Naomi
Naomi

Definitely a habit you need to kick, you know, for the sake of the planet and all. But yet, I can understand your OCD tendancies. I hate cupboard doors being left open. Especially before I go to bed. Doors to the ensuite, wardrobe need to be completely shut (not even slightly ajar). Or the main bedroom door needs to be open, and completely open - flush with the wall. I've noticed both my kids (3 1/2 and 18 months) shutting doors behind me int he kitchen.... OCD - passed on!

Kari
Kari

As long as you are recycling the bottles then who cares? Maybe try using paper cups that can be recycled. You could also have an outing with your son or buy a kit where you can test your water and see exactly what's in it. Maybe it will decrease your uneasiness, and it will be fun too. Good luck! ...oh and my son is afraid of the dark and going into the basement--totally my fault. haha

Christopher Tucker
Christopher Tucker

Obviously, our kids pick up our beliefs and habits. If it doesn't pose a threat to his level of functioning and navigating his world, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Everyone has quirks. It only becomes a disorder when it disrupts normal functioning. Cheers, Dan!

Kristi
Kristi

Dan, I would like to say your being irrational and your beliefs are completely unfounded, but the fact is, to you they are not. I am like many other people in response to the fact the water and glasses you have are most likely cleaner. There are programs and counseling that will help and suggest for your sons and the environment's sake you try. You might try washing the glass yourself and pouring the water from the bottle in the glass. It is a start. You can also put your glass that no one else would use, that you bought in a plastic container or Ziploc after washing and drying. Baby steps. It's not a matter of teaching your son a habit such as this, but teaching your son that it is ok that you can't control what "you" do. It will be an excuse that could be applied to anything. I can't control my anger, I can't control that I steal, I can't control that I hit or hurt someone. I am not saying that he ever would. I have my own sad habits. I work on them each day and for the most part I don't think my kids have any of them. The biggest is I do not like plastic cups. I think they alter the fizzy of my dr pepper and make it go flat faster. My kids just laugh.

Mandy
Mandy

Do you really think the red plastic cups are any more clean then the reusable? How many people touch those during processing, and packaging? :)

Treatment for OCD is a gradual introduction to the stimulus that one is afraid of. Perhaps start with a brand new reusable cup, maybe wait til you are just dying of thirst, put M&Ms in it!

Use straws!!

Anne Marie
Anne Marie

Dan, honestly: Do you eat out at restaurants? Then you are eating and drinking from flatware and plates and glasses that have been used hundreds of thousands of times by total strangers who may have any number of communicable diseases. And, restaurant washrooms aren't always as sanitary as they should be. Just sayin'...I've worked in a lot of restaurants.

I'm not trying to freak you out or prevent you from eating in restaurants, but to help you approach this issue logically. If you have, at any time in your life, eaten at a restaurant, then you can and should drink from your own cups at home. You know exactly where they've been and how clean they are. Think of all the money you'll save. And think of what you'll be teaching Noah about overcoming obstacles when he sees his dad do it.

Eryn
Eryn

For some reason, I'm waaay more picky about the cleanliness of my dishes than the food I put on them. If I drop some food on the floor and there's no visible dirt or hair on it (and if nobody's watching me), I'll eat it, but I insist on scrubbing my fork tines and the notches in my butter knives with a toothbrush to get any possible gook out of all the nooks and crannies.

Heather Winsor Smith
Heather Winsor Smith

I feel like I can't go to bed, leave my house, or do something fun without haveing a clean house first. It drives me crazy that I'm like that. It's feels like Im physically incapable of doing anything unless my house is straightened up. I feel trapped and Im sure it drives the hubbs crazy.

cherryl
cherryl

Hello Dan,
Well, ok that is def OCD... and yes it might be time to see a professional about that... especially if you are concerned about it and are seeing Noah exhibiting OCD behaviors as well. As parents we strive so hard to be do the b we can! I think you are an exceptional parent and I think Noah is a lucky kid! Just the fact that you are aware and thinking about how your behaviors affect Noah is AWESOME! :)
I agree with a post above me stating that we do pass many of our good and bad traits on to our kids, however more good that bad hopefully! And in your case definitely more good! I applaud your parenting, u got :Mad skills"!
I put a cap full of bleach in my dish water to sanitize my dishes every time... I also have the fear that icky things might stay on the glasses or dishes... That does the trick for me! My family and friends laugh at me but yet I find most of them do the same thing now as well!
Best of Luck to you and thank you for being brave enough to blog fearlessly!!!!
Cherryl

Krikit
Krikit

Children Learn What They Live (1959)

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn . . .
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight . . .
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilt . . .

BUT

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative . . .
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . . .
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . . .
If a child lives with friendlienss(sic), he learns the world is a nice place in which to live . . .

* * * * * * * * * *

If a child lives with OCD, what will he learn . . . . . .?

Able-Bodied Girl
Able-Bodied Girl

time to re-evaluate where that came from and how to address it. you obviously recognize how it's affecting your son, to the negative, and that's a good jump start on change!

best of luck
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Charlotte
Charlotte

I wash everything by hand, and I rinse it after I wash it, and then I let it air dry. Best way for me... When I have the mental energy to do the washing up.

Sandra
Sandra

There is a difference between having a specific phobia and having OCD. You should check it out.

mcshelf
mcshelf

Oh Dan,
The fact is, you know stuff from the dishwasher is safe, or you wouldn't give it to your beautiful son.

I understand that OCD has nothing to do *really* with the cups and is more about control.

The part that really sucks is that the dishwasher cleaned glass is way less likely to be covered with bacteria than the plastic cups. On top of which, 'your' bacteria, I mean the stuff that hangs around your house with you, the bacteria your used to is going to be way safer for you than something completely alien.

If you want some serious incentive to stop using those cups read on. But I warn you, it's gross. I also warn you that OCD isn't about the cups, so this may help you use your own dishes, but it will not stop OCD from popping up somewhere else.

Dan, I don't mean to do a OCD mess on your head but think about it. How clean are the factories that make the cups or fill water bottles? WHo checks the packaging and how many times do they touch their eyes, nose, ears or groin in a day? How many people touch them before you ever get them, moving them from factory to truck, to warehouse, to truck to store, not to mention what gets spilled on the packaging and wiped off over time. What is crawling over the boxes and bags and bottles as they travel in boats or sit in warehouses before they are bought?

All the best,

Mcshelf

ginger
ginger

If it's true OCD then it's part of your chemical makeup, and it can be passed on genetically. I have OCD and both my biological father (who I never lived with) and his sister had severe OCD. My mom would comment on how I would do the same "weird" things he did (like wiping off the ketchup bottles after every use) without ever having sen him do it. It freaked her out a bit I think.

If you are really bothered by this then you should see a psychiatrist. There are methods of dealing with OCD behaviors that both pharmaceutical and non pharmaceutical. Exposure therapy is a big part of non pharmaceutical therapy and it can be very successful.

Don't let the stigma of seeing a psych doc keep you from being able to master this. It would be like having diabetes and not seeing a doctor to have it treated. There are lots of options and it can really make life better for not only you, but for the people who love you. When you are at your best inside, you can be the best you for people around you.

Kia
Kia

Every kid's cartoon I've ever watched has had an episode where a kid becomes obsessive compulsive following their newfound discovery of germs. Cartoonists do this because this kind of paranoia is childish and illogical (also pointless, assuming you have lymphs like the rest of us). Maybe after a few hours comparing yourself to two-dimensional characters from show like Recess and Rugrats will make you feel better about drinking from your own glasses. There's also an episode of House from season six (called Teamwork) that may help you see the dangers of being too clean.

Question: these are your cups you're talking about right? Ones that you've bought for yourself, presumably for your own use? Assuming that answer is yes, a) Why did you buy cups that you're afraid to use, and b) How did you manage to get poop in them?

saffronrose
saffronrose

Talk therapy and a psychiatrist for the appropriate meds should help. The therapist might suggest other methods to deal with the OCD that I'm not aware of, that not being a problem in my family.

The closest way I come to OCD has to do when something is lots or misplaced. Over and over I search in the same places I've already searched, hoping I might have missed the item the time before. Hate it.

What I was afraid we would do was to pass our dental phobias to our son. We made an appointment with the very highly recommended (justifiably so) pediatric dentist in the county, and in a small room with an aquarium wall, I talked about those fears we each had, and some of the sources of mine. Arthur went happily to see the dentist, even when he'd had a cavity filled. He didn't like the numb-recovery part--still doesn't, but aside from that, he's fine with the dentist.

Six years ago we moved, and a year or two later, my husband had a painful abcess in a tooth he'd been worrying at for a year or two. It took that kind of pain to get him to the dentist. He went to another highly-recommended dentist locally (where we see so many of our friends!) to get his tooth looked at. By that time, it had to be root-canaled and pulled, and a post&crown implant put in. *I* may have a dozen crowns, but not because I suffered a long time before seeking help.

Takeuchi-san and his staff are great. They DO cater to cowards/phobics, and nitrous gas is figured into the cost of any procedure since so many patients need it. Kurt is fine, as long as there's nitrous, Arthur likes it, and I'm not interested. I did go in there with several anxiety-coping techniques, including one the last hygienist had given me to keep from gagging with Xray film holders (the old style are quite painful).

After a while, they each dropped away, as did the AHA requirement for pre-medicating due to my benign heart murmur. The hygienist I have now doesn't poke to measure pockets, but gently drops the instrument, so I have MUCH less pain for that procedure. The film covers for the digital film are rounded at the corners and edges, so there's much less pain or tendency to gag. They're very good there at trying to help you avoid discomfort of any kind, by technique or equipment.

freemom
freemom

What's next? Saving your pee in mason jars? Get a hold of it while you can still identify rational thought. And, remember, dishwashers set to heat-dry sterilize cups and anything else in the cycle, while those plastic things go through all sorts of presses and machinery and are handled by all manner of minimum-wage hands before they go into a plastic bag which has endured the same and worse.
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Vonda Walsh
Vonda Walsh

What about getting a sanitizer for your kitchen. I have a large one originally received for my daughter's bottles, but now use it for everything. You can also sanitize your sponges in the microwave, just wet them and zap them for about 30 seconds, just make sure they're wet.

I'm afraid to give you something to think about, so if you're afraid to read and never turn back, stop here.

What about your laundry? You're always posting how your son leaves his skivvies everywhere, yet you wash and re-wear your clothes, don't you? What's the difference in the dirt from your washing machine and how clean your clothes are in comparison to the dishes in your dishwasher and how clean they are? A sanitizing cycle for each really should do the trick and you can do a load of distilled vinegar in each once a month to clean them... Also, what's the difference in your cup to your silverware or plates? Or do you use paper cups and plastic utensils too? Just curious... and just trying to help. You know I adore your blog, so I'm here for you if you need help in getting through this!

Good Luck : )

Caryn
Caryn

Wow...I almost feel normal after reading all the responses. Thank you everyone! We are all freaks and lovin it :)

Nicole
Nicole

I'm confused. If you are SO SURE that there is "poop" or other nasty stuff on the cups WHY is it ok for Noah to drink out of them? don't you love him? Do you want him to drink poop?

Honestly, you are probably right. There probably is 'stuff' on the clean dishes BUT SO WHAT!!! It's not like it's going to kill you. Man up! The air you breath has 'stuff' in it too. Are you going to stop breathing now? You body can handle it. Really. Honest. You aren't going to die.

Pam
Pam

I only do that with water.. Has to be in a bottle with a lid.. Otherwise air particles will get in it or micro scopic bugs will drink my water and I might drink them!

guest
guest

Dan, While I appreciate your OCD and am the same way about a few things. However, google BPA and the possible effects that those plastic bottles have on Noah and you may be able to overcome this particular compulsion.
~shelly

Nora Kelly
Nora Kelly

My son can't sit through dinner if any of the kitchen cabinets are open. They have to be closed... not an OCD tendency of mine, but he's definitely picking up his own. It must be in the genes.

Amy Veliquette
Amy Veliquette

My own thing is less OCD and more perfectionism - If I don't think I can finish a task, or do it as well as I'd like, I have a VERY hard time starting that project or putting any effort into it.

Vonda Walsh
Vonda Walsh

I meant paper plates. Sorry, it's been a long week!