“Okay,” I told my husband as I was heading to the door this morning. “Philip and I are headed out to do shopping.”
“Why don’t you go to the bank, too?”
I was certain I could think of a thousand reasons why not. I had shared a few with Peter the first two times that he asked me to go to the bank. The first time was a month ago. At the time, I assured him that I would go to the bank on my lunch break. I forgot, so, two weeks later, I again promised to go to the bank.
That didn’t happen.
I sighed in response to the request. You know the kind of sigh: a whole body display of resignation, inconvenience, reluctant acceptance with a twinge of hope that the sigh will guilt the other person into relenting.
The kind of sigh that Peter is an expert at ignoring.
I gathered up the money to deposit, rolled coins for Philip’s savings and some cash to go into the grown-ups’ account. I grabbed the savings books and, for real this time, headed to the car with Philip.
Our first stop was the drugstore to pick up some items on sale. The stop was a ploy. Sure, we would have eventually shopped here, but I was delaying the trip to the bank. The drugstore was easier. At the drugstore, I can put Philip into a shopping cart. There he is safely restrained and won’t run away from me.
Having checked out and loaded our purchases and selves into the car, I sat at the steering wheel, debating. Now that I had everything assembled for the bank, I could easily wait for my lunch break on Monday. Maybe I could even fib to Peter, tell him that we went and then secretly go on Monday.
It was at that moment I realized that I may have developed a slight form of agoraphobia. In my younger days, I used to avoid parties, afraid that I wouldn’t know what to say or how to act. To this day, I dislike events with large crowds. I don’t believe that these feelings are clinical. I’ve never seen a shrink about them, partly because I am able to function and partly because these fears aren’t completely irrational. Unlike my knee-jerk reaction to Friday the 13th, I’ve thought through the situations and identified real concerns. These anxieties just mean I’m a big chicken, more of a character flaw then a condition to be diagnosed and treated.
But the agoraphobic response to going to the bank is new.
You know that scene in Mary Poppins where the young boy causes a run on the bank with his yells of “Give me back my tuppence?” Complete chaos ensues, the children run off, and the father is left in shame and about to lose his job. I guess that’s what I imagine will happen if I take Philip to the bank with me. Okay, he doesn’t have a tuppence to feed the pigeons. But he also does not have much patience, either. And, in my experience, you need patience when you go to the bank.
I’ve taken Philip with me before. Like many people, I do most transactions via ATM or online, but I can’t make deposits into Philip’s savings account this way. So, on the rare occasions I’ve had to go into a bank, Philip has either been in a carrier, in his stroller, or absent. I finally had to break this trend about four months ago. Philip went with me for some necessary transaction. I held him by the hand. I’ve become quite talented at completing tasks one-handed when Philip is along. Because, if I let go of his hand, he will most likely run off. And he does not respond to me calling, “Stop!”
He didn’t run off the last time we went to the downtown bank branch, but he did his best to wriggle free from my grasp. He started to make impatient noises as we waited in line, and the tears began as we waited for the teller to complete our transaction.
I’ve been quite fortunate that Philip has yet to have a massive meltdown in public. This is partly luck and partly because of my pseudo-agoraphobia. I honestly don’t know on whose behalf I am more afraid. Am I concerned that Philip will go into sensory overload? Or am I more afraid of how that overload will affect me?
I finally bit the bullet and decided to go to the bank with Philip. I sat for a few moments longer, debating on which branch to use: the downtown branch on our way to the library or the east side branch on the way to the grocery store? I opted for the latter.
To my surprise, I discovered there was a children’s area in the lobby of this branch. I led Philip over and he began to play with a basket of plastic figurines. I sat beside him in a tot-sized chair to fill out my deposit slips. There was no one in line, so I took Philip over to the counter with me. He wanted to stay and play, but he kept himself entertained by rocking side to side. The teller worked quickly, and we were soon on our way.
All of my anxiety had been for nothing.
Sharing this post from two years ago on the yeah write #157 weekend moonshine grid.