Jello, Spiders, Weddings, Zombies, and other Fairy tales.

Yes, zombies and  fairy tales.  A has finally decided that stories are a necessary part of her nightly routine.  Truth be told I never thought she would sit for a story once let alone several nights in a row so I’m ecstatic.  The zombie part is just how my week has been.  Even though we have ironed out the bedtime routine, removed stuffed buddies from her bed, and tweaked other issues, A still only slept all the way through the night twice in the past week.  This means that I am running on caffeine and caffeine!  So consider yourselves warned, things could get a bit strange!

So, I have still been attempting to add foods to A’s diet without much luck.  She still cries and throws her sandwich off her plate since the egg salad debacle, so those are on the back burner for now.  But I have learned that A has developed a strong affinity for Jell-O.  Bizarre, right?  Think about it, a child who is orally defensive and strongly dislikes any kind of smooth, squishy, or remotely slimy type texture, loving Jell-O!  Specifically, purple grape Jell-O but she’ll eat others if she has no other choice.  Still hates pudding, but loves her Jell-O!  Sadly, I only had 1 box of purple so she is having to live with red for right now, but at least it’s not yellow!  (Never give her any food that is yellow…it requires too much clean up!)  Still, someone needs to invent a Jell-O maker machine…just to make my life easier.  You know, something that has both boiling hot water and chilled water and mixes them with the Jell-O mix then dispenses it into little serving size containers you can put in your fridge and doesn’t require much clean-up.  I would buy that.

Moving on…A loves to be outside.  In her mind there is nothing better than spending the day rambling around the backyard, so I had the brilliant notion that maybe she would eat more if she were outside!  Sounds fabulous!  Put child a kiddie-sized picnic table outdoors, present with new food, and HEY!  she’ll take a bite or even eat all of it!  Right?  What could go wrong?  Oh yeah, let’s start with everything.  Don’t get me wrong, once I removed the small, offensive bit of burger (homemade mind you) from her plate and wiped off the baked bean residue things were great!  She ate her Jell-O and yogurt and nibbled on here graham crackers and was so happy she tried to pet a spider.  Yes, a spider.  Thankfully it was only a smallish spiny orb weaver, but still, who pets a spider?  (Besides my child) If you’ve never heard of a spiny orb weaver, it looks like a very, very small crab without pincers.  They are really common around here and are basically harmless unless you happen to be a mosquito, fly, or other small insect.  I don’t mind her love of Nature and all things in it, some days I just wish she was as brave at trying new foods as she is about petting animals, both bizarre and normal. 

I think our biggest triumph so far was this weekend.  She didn’t eat anything new or different, she just ate while we were out, in an unfamiliar place with lots of people, lights, and noise.  We went to a wedding and actually were able to stay for the whole thing.  Usually, A doesn’t handle loud noise, lots of people, and strange surroundings well at all.  Think fall down screaming kind of not handle well.  Amazingly though she not only made it through the reception, she had fun.  I’m sure a lot had to do with having her brother there, but she sat in her seat and ate the food I brought for her (wouldn’t touch anything there, even the crackers).  Then, she followed her brother and the other kids out onto the dance floor and “danced” with them.  It was amazing to watch my little girl who, six months ago would have been a complete wreck, interact with children she had just met, not only tolerate the loud music, but dance to it, and allow people she hadn’t seen since she was an infant pick her up and hold her.  It was so amazing to see and we were completely blown away and beyond ecstatic at the same time.  It was fantastic.  I know, I’m repeating myself, but can you blame me?

All in all it has been a long, tiring, trying, fantastic, amazing, and surprising week.  We have learned that Jell-O is good, sandwiches are not so good still, A will try to pet unusual animals (insects) when she is happy, and that we can occasionally take her to noisy, busy family affairs and she will be okay.  Yep, just another ordinary, plain and not so simple, typical, everyday week in Sensory Land.  I may not always know how to handle my daughter’s issues, and I may feel like she is not moving forward some days, but at least I know that whatever we are doing is leaving us with some sort of positive progress over time and that is worth remembering.

Earplugs not included…how eggciting!

Yeah…it’s been one of those weeks.  The  kind where food flies, ear drums are tortured, and sleep is nothing more than a myth.  More of the wonderful ups and downs that make this one unique adventure.

Recently, A learned how to say “egg”. The fact that it actually applies to an object dawned on her in the grocery store.  She delighted herself by pointing  and yelling out “EGG!” anytime she saw an egg carton, or anything resembling an egg for that matter.  It was fantastic – not only was she using a word, but it kept her from screaming her way through the store again.  Yeah, I’m THAT parent.  The one with the child who falls apart in the grocery store, doctor’s office, anywhere that happens to be public.  It’s not something that happens all the time, but on her bad days there are no good times when you have to get shopping done.  Those are the days when earplugs should be standard issue as soon as she wakes up!

After listening to almost an hour of “EGG!  EGG! Mama, EGG!” on our last grocery run,  I found an upside to her obsession with the word.  She wanted to eat an egg.  So I dutifully hard boiled a few eggs and began to peel them.  Much to my surprise, A helped.  I figured it was a positive sign that she was actually touching the shell-less hard boiled egg and not crying.  She happily held her egg, showed it off, and went to take a bite.  Well, it made it to her lips and then she decided that maybe this wasn’t the best idea.  Solution?  Egg salad!  After all, finely chopped egg is fairly benign right?  WRONG!  She gagged and we are back to the not eating sandwiches thing again.

Oh well.  What can you do?  At least there’s always yogurt!

Two Steps Forward…

And about half a dozen back.  That’s been this week for us.  A has been sick so sadly some of our progress with food went flying out the windows (at least they were open so no cleaning was required!).   She had been eating grapefruit and Mandarin oranges, but not so much now.  So…we are slowly working our way back to acceptance of the “scary” foods.  You know, things like chicken, pork, beef, and <gasp> EGGS!  Seriously, eggs are traumatizing.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.  Moving on…

A couple of weeks ago, I bought an avocado in a vain attempt to introduce a higher calorie but somewhat nutritious food to A’s diet. Well, apparently a green and slightly mushy food does not rank highly on her list of things to eat.  I had to get her an entirely new plate for the rest of her lunch and even then she was to upset to really eat.  Talk about a bad reaction.  Did I dare try again or was this the end of the avocado fiasco?

Of course not!  I mean why give up there when I could hide it in her food somehow?  That would work, right?  I could slip it into her pasta sauce, wait, she doesn’t eat anything that involves pasta.  Right.  Oh!  How about in oatmeal?  Nope, gags on oatmeal.  Cancel that one.  How about meat…nevermind – there’s meat involved it’s sure to go flying.  Beginning to see my difficulty here?  Well, I finally realized that her peanut butter sandwich was my only alternative since, let’s face it, strawberry yogurt and avocado just do not belong together, and yes, I did try that one too (not recommended at all!).   So, I fixed her a peanut butter and avocado sandwich.  I spread the avocado on the bread nice and thin under the peanut butter and then added a bit of honey  to sweeten things up.  Worked great, until she decided that her sandwich needed to be taken apart so she could scrape off the peanut butter with her finger.  A refused to eat sandwiches for the rest of the week.

Lesson learned?  Nope, I still try vainly to slip foods in when she’s not paying attention, even if it is from my plate. The only result of this is that she won’t eat anything off my plate – which isn’t entirely a bad thing!

This seems funny in retrospect, but it’s just one of many small battles we face every single day.  I can tell funny stories all day long about our feeding fiascos, but living with it is anything but fun.  You worry constantly that your child is getting enough and you wonder what more you can do for them or what you might be missing that they need.  It’s even harder when your child cannot communicate to tell you what they want.  Some days you feel like a horrible parent even when you know you’re not.

There are days though, when suddenly she eats something she wouldn’t touch before and likes it and wants it constantly.  Miraculously her menu options expand, and even if it is only oranges or Jell-O, you feel like dancing and jumping up and down and telling everyone you know – even if they do look at you funny because they don’t understand just how much this means.  The relief that you feel and the joy of seeing your child who used to cry over Jell-O or oranges suddenly eating it is beyond explanation.

That’s what you have to hold onto.  That’s what makes those days when you think she won’t eat anything, no matter what you do, bearable. It’s the one thing I can hold onto and say that even if she doesn’t eat something today, she did yesterday.  And because she did yesterday, she just might again tomorrow.