Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

If you haven't been reading me for a while, or if you're brand spanking new to Ow, my angst land (thanks and welcome), then you may not know that my 7 year old son, Jack, is HORRENDOUS TO FEED. 

In case you are a parent, who also has a BATTLE TO GET YOUR KID TO EAT, or have a child with behavioural/developmental issues, who also has restricted eating, or need to know that someone else knows just how you feel when it comes to anything related to your kid and food, I've whined in a few posts on this, so you can look for some solace in the following:

* Picky? Picky?!? You haven't Met Jack
* Food, Food, and whether you like it or not--More Food

* Life On The Autism Spectrum - 2008
* Life On The Autism Spectrum: For God's Sake JUST EAT

Some of those articles are a little older, which means that things Jack used to enjoy had long since died and gone to the food graveyard; a place of once loved foods almost never to be revisited. 

Things of course, had been getting worse.  This means that Jack's day of food was looking like this:

* Breakfast:  chocolate milk, packet of instant oatmeal, multivitamin (* with zinc), acidophilus supplement and Omega 3 supplement

* snack:  chocolate pudding

* Lunch:  two pieces of cinnamon raisin toast, two glasses of chocolate milk, 3 cinnamon cookies, vitamin D supplement

* Afternoon snack:  glass of chocolate milk

* Dinner:  two pieces of cinnamon raisin toast, one or two glasses of chocolate milk, cinnamon cookies

* Bedtime snack:  two pieces of cinnamon toast, chocolate milk


Oh, on weekends Jack's nana would have a box of "After Eight" chocolate mints waiting for him until The Man and I put the kibosh on that, because we didn't think ANY kid needed a box of chocolates all to himself each and every week, even if he does hate food. 

So, how do I feel about this diet?  I FREAKING HATE IT.  But what do you do?  I remember, a few years ago, my Mom told me that when you become a parent, and you have a really picky child, you're thrilled if the kid eats a hot dog, even though technically that hot dog is garbage.  Oh how right she was. 

I've tried all the right things, and I've tried all the wrong things.  I've put a half teaspoon of a new food in front of him at every meal.  I've gone for days and days of just letting him lick said new food.  I've tried to employ the "just one bite" rule.  I've put new things in front of him casually and said nothing, pretended to be completely blasé over whether he even tried it or not.  I've chased him around the room to try to get him to just lick the food on the end of the fork.  I've bribed.  I've threatened.  I praised, I cheered.  I empathised.  I got angry.  Then I backed away for ages.  Then I got back on the horse.  Then I backed away again, because the panic, outrage, screaming and crying were turning the dinner table into a battlefield. 

I don't believe Jack could ever be forced to eat.  I truly believe that he would starve himself if confronted with a food he couldn't tolerate rather than eat it.  I know that doctors and parents of kids who are only a little bit fussy would laugh at me, but I believe this. 

Jack is extremely sensitive to smells. This means that when I was baking up a MASTERFUL homemade mac and cheese recently, he was nearly hurling from revulsion over the savoury smell wafting out of the oven. 

So, what to do?  Who wants their kid to have an entire diet filled with sugar/sweet carbohydrate-laden foods???  Sugar is just not good for us.  Too much sugar actually depletes the body of magnesium.  I have wondered if some days when Jack has a lot of bodily tics and twitches if it's because he's actually showing a magnesium deficiency. 

Yeah, it gets to me.

It REALLY got to me the day I had a little convo with the kid, in which he alluded to CONSTIPATION.  Go figure--he eats NO fruit or vegetables!  Fibre!?  What fibre??? 

Then, one day, I had an idea. 

The kid loves books.  He's also very excited when an author crafts up a whole COLLECTION of books, starring the same character.  Every week when he'd go visit my inlaws, he'd immediately hit granddad up for a new book.  Hell--grandparents can't refuse a kid anything, right? 

From this notion the FOOD CHART was born.  I told Jack one day, when he was going on about wanting a certain new book, that I was going to make him a food chart.  Every time he tried a different or new food, I was going to put a sticker on the chart.  When he gets FIVE STICKERS, he gets to buy whatever he wants.  Thus, if he wants that shiny new book, he has to earn it. 

And something amazing happened:  he started trying foods WILLINGLY.  As you can see from the chart, he actually ate a few thin slices of apple.  What--you thought the kid ate the whole apple?  If that were true, I wouldn't be able to clack this little story out, because I'd be DEAD FROM SHOCK. 

Little slices of apple...a few decent-sized carrot sticks...1/2 a yogurt!!!!!  He hasn't eaten yogurt in MONTHS.  1/2 a small peanut butter sandwich (MAGNESIUM, YO).  And then one day, he asked casually "what does [white] milk taste like?"  I said; "try it and see."  He DID. 

These little things may seem small and insignificant, but for this kid, who is MONSTROUSLY AFRAID OF FOOD, they are HUGE.  He's even had a couple of glasses of apple juice in the past week.  He drank applejuice to DEATH until the age of 3, and then dropped it altogether. 

The 5th sticker is the challenge:  it has to be the whole piece of whatever he chooses.  So he got a pretty big piece of carrot for that.  He wasn't thrilled, but he did it.  And that golden 5th sticker went up on the chart. 

Then Jack immediately got his shoes on.  And marched to The Man's car, hopped in, and buckled up.  And started hollering:

"DAD!!! LET'S GO!!!!!" 

They drove to the bookstore and he claimed his reward.  Thank god it wasn't another STUPID, ASININE, IDIOTIC
Mélanie Watt "Scaredy Squirrel" book. 

I f*cking hate those. 

I f*cking hate those with dripping, green, slimy, toxic letters spelling the word HATE. 

I f*cking hate those books to the point of wanting to stomp on them, pee on them and then burn them. 

But, the kids seem to like them--tedious, horrid monstrosity books that they are.

So what happens when Jack runs out of books he wants to buy???   SSSSSHHHHhhh.....let's not think about that just yet. 


  1. I laughed at the 'white milk' comment. I've been down that road before.

    And wow, so much chocolate....

    So glad the food chart is working for you. My lil bro is autistic and lives & dies by chinese food. No idea why, but it's 2 meals a day for him, 6 days a week...

  2. do not dis the squirrel! maybe the chart would work for us, gabe hates fruits and veggies, he only will eat corn peas and apples, thats it, and he will run from carrots literally!

  3. I was a very picky eater with a ton of food allergies as a child. I would gag at the thought of mashed potatoes and was escorted from the table for doing so when forced to eat them by my stepfather.
    I have changed considerably since then and try new things all of the time, now.

  4. Go mom! The chart's a great idea!

  5. Wow! Answers to many many prayers! Good for you on your open mind to new, creative attempts! Hope it keeps working...

  6. That is awesome!! yay you and Jack.

    Here's to Jack never running out of books he wants to read!

  7. Rock it out Karen! Very creative!! I enjoy when you write about your kids - always makes me smile :-)

  8. Food battles are THE WORST. Simply horrible.

    I was lucky that the girl had a pretty o.k. ability to try new things, but there were months were it was pasta & milk all day, every day. Exhausting.

    Good for you & good for the food stickers.

    PS I love your writing.

  9., oh yes--MUCHOS chocolate. Thanks for the info about your brother. I wonder what he likes specifically from the Chinese restaurant... What a pain that must be. I'd complain like crazy if that were Jack, until the day came when he gave up that food, then I'd be begging him to eat it again.

  10. Paula, when I say I FREAKING HATE THOSE BOOKS, I'm sad that there isn't a more emphatic way to convey my loathing.

    I believe you about Gabe LITERALLY running away from carrots. Jack literally runs screaming from new foods.

  11. thanks for sharing that, George--it's actually quite comforting. I'm hoping peer pressure gets to Jack when I force him to stay at school for lunch next year.

  12. thanks A&A! How come the most obvious, simple ideas can be the most elusive???

  13. Me too, Matt--MEEEEE TOO. Thanks for thinking of us and our FREAKING FOOD ORDEALS.

  14. Christy, you've just NAILED MY FEAR. Right now he's not as gung-ho about his list because he's not dying for a new book. Sigh. One step forward, one step back.

  15. Why thanks Michelle, I'm about to (rant) write about the little dickens as soon as I get a moment.

  16. Ah Ms Suniverse, empathy is EVERYTHING. Pasta and milk every day....oh brother. I don't get it; I wasn't picky as a kid. I hated CAULIFLOWER, but that's de rigeur, for a kid, no?!?

    Thanks, by the way :)


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