Sunday, January 4, 2009

Soup Is Good Food

My eldest son ate soup for lunch today.

I know a lot of you are going, "yeah... okay... this is gonna be one of those blogposts about the minutia in her life, I guess".

My mom is probably getting up off the floor because she fell out of her chair.

See, my eldest is one of those kids with food... shall we say... ISSUES? Yes, food issues. He eats only about seven things and has for quite some time.

He will very politely say, "no, thank you." if you offer him applesauce or grapes or peaches or corn or macaroni and cheese or raisins or peanuts or watermelon or even JELLO for g-d's sake!

But today he ate soup for lunch. And soup is not one of the seven foods.

Just getting him to come to the table takes some coercion at times, and we worry that we are making food to much of a stress in his life. We have tried backing off, feeding him only what he eats, feeding him only what he doesn't eat, talking about health and growing up strong, pointing out that his body is a good deal smaller than his friends his age and why. We have offered choices in case it was a control issue. We have taken away choices because we feel we serve him as if he is in a restaurant.

We have considered therapy to find out what is at the base of all this, how his mind is thinking about it, how his hunger (or lack thereof) ticks.

He fled from the table after eating less than a tablespoon of food for the second time in three meals, and at my wits' end I sat down with him and had this epiphany. Gee... maybe I should talk to him like a therapist would, really listen and not judge. Get him to keep on talking about it until he gives me some truths.

So I asked him why he felt he always wanted to leave the table. Why he never wanted to come to the table? Why he stopped even when there is food he likes? He started out saying that he worried he would get messy or spill his milk. Drip syrup on himself. I asked him if I had ever made him feel bad about messing his shirt or the table and he dropped that line right away. And then he said...

"Eating is just boring. I always eat the same food over and over and over again. It just gets boring."

Really. What a shock.

So, I explained to him that the reason he gets the same food over and over again is that whenever I serve him anything else, he refuses to eat and will go a whole day (or two!) without eating. I explained that if he even added back in the foods that he USED to eat and decided he no longer would, like Mac and Cheese, and pasta and scrambled eggs, then he would not have to have the same meal he just ate the day before yesterday, again today!

And would you believe the lightbulb went on?

The very next thing he said was could he please have pasta for lunch?

"Um... YEAH!"

"And ravioli for dinner?"

I checked his forehead for fever. Normal.

I checked mine.

"Sure, honey, we could do that!" ignoring the fact completely that ravioli is pasta, but then how would someone who eats seven foods even know that?

So he had pasta for lunch. And that night for dinner he ate ravioli. And he thanked us for it!

He had his usual cereal for breakfast today. And for lunch? Yup. He asked for soup! He ate about three tablespoons of it and nothing else, but he said it was warm and good, and could he have it again sometime?

I just stammered as his tiny little six year old self in his 4T pants skipped out of the room.


gail said...

I sympathize and hope he keeps it up -- my kids, and grandkids had (and have) similar 'issues.' My grandson, who is 4, greets every meal with comments like "none of these foods are my favorites" or 'this does not look good to me at all.' We also twist ourselves in knots to try to find foods they will eat -- I think therapy is in order, but most likely for the adults. My son was a tiny child and he is not a big man. He remembers how it felt to not want to eat but is no closer to finding the magic solution for his own kids (despite his now very healthy appetite).

My theory -- and I know that this is probably a rationalization -- is that other people's kids are actually much bigger than they should be, thanks to the junk food and chemicals that they take in on a regular basis. When I was a girl, the average man was about 5'9", the size of today's average 12 year old in my neighborhood. And in those olden days, girls didn't reach puberty when they were 8. My kids, and grandkids are not tall, but they are healthy and will never be obese.

It's a confusing world. And I know how frustrating this food thing can be. Good luck to you.

Snowbird said...

Wow, soup! I didn't fall off my chair (can't see the computer from there) but I was amazed. I hope this works and he starts eating some more. Maybe you need to play therapist some more and get to the really deep down reason. I remember him refusing food when he was tiny. No bottle, no pacifier, no food. There has to be some reason for all of this other than it's boring. But, hey, if that works for now--go for it.

And I loved Gail's reply. See, you're not alone.

Emily said...

yay for a breakthrough! soup!

Mark said...

Wow that was great to read and it made me get a little farklempt myself! So happy and hope that more of your own style of "therapy" helps! Happy eating!!!