It is 7 am on a spring Sunday morning and Rosa (not her real name) can hardly wait to be unbuckled from her stroller to be swept up into the arms of the metapelet (caregiver) at the WIZO Multipurpose Day Care Center she attends. Over the weekend, Rosa has missed the hugs and the closeness of her warm and welcoming caregivers. She has missed climbing upon the knee of her metapelet and playing closely with her little friends. At day care, she can be totally at ease picking up her toys and playing with the puzzles and there is no one there who will insist on wearing plastic gloves when they take her by the hand. And as a two-year-old toddler, she is allowed to be messy.
Unfortunately, it is not so simple for Rosa at home. Despite the pleas from her husband, Rosa’s mother refuses to get treatment for her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which has had an adverse effect on her daughter’s wellbeing. Rosa’s mother will not hug her daughter for fear of germs, nor will she brush Rosa’s beautiful blond hair because she says she ‘might catch something’. She insists on covering the handles of the stroller with plastic bags and she shuns her daughter when she wants to hold her hands. She cannot bring herself to have any close physical contact with Rosa. Typically, her OCD manifests itself as a fear of contamination by dirt and a compulsion for extreme order and tidiness. One time, Rosa arrived at the day care center with red, sore hands when her mother scrubbed them with too vigorously to ‘get rid of all the germs’ after Rosa had pet the neighbor’s dog. Rosa’s mother often sends Rosa to the day care center wearing dirty clothes, as she believes there are also germs lurking in the washing machine.
Rosa’s father is a great stabilizing factor in the little girl’s life and he works closely with the social workers and support staff at the WIZO Multipurpose Day Care Center but his work requires him to spend time abroad. Sigal, the WIZO social worker, explains:
“When Rosa’s father is away, we see a regression in Rosa and so at these times, I pay close attention to Rosa’s behavior. I am in close contact with her mother, I invite her to therapy sessions, and she is always happy to comply. I bring her into my office with Rosa and talk to her while Rosa plays with the toys on the floor and we chat, completely at ease. There have been breakthroughs. Rosa’s mother has opened up to me.
She wants to make life easier for her daughter. In fact, we have seen a great improvement since Rosa first came to the day care center just a year and a half a half ago. She was such a closed, introverted baby, so unused to physical contact. We have shown her that it is natural to touch, to hug and to share. She responds so well now.”
Rosa’s parents are grateful to the day care center staff for their professional and supportive care of their daughter. It may be that Rosa’s mother has a long way to go in her own personal battle against OCD but for Rosa, the WIZO Multipurpose Day Care Center is a place of healing and hugs.
(Names changed to preserve anonymity)
(Photo for illustration purposes only)