Part of the reason that I blog (especially in my former non-child blog about rants and complaints, which I’m an expert at) is because my job is pretty dry, so I just need a spot where I can babble like an incoherent teenager. In my head I have so many blog posts to write, but then when I get a chance to write them I’m so exhausted, my brain thinks “ahhh f*ck it…who cares”.
Dahlia turned 1 and I’m honestly in shock and awe over a typical child’s development. Like pointing. She points at everything and says “this?” because she wants to know the name. At this age I can easily compare to Dean, because this is around the time we started to look into getting him tested. The fact she’s trying to communicate with us is huge. But the pointing thing is what kills me. You may not know this, but there’s a lot that goes into getting your brain to send a message to your index finger to point. Dean was quite delayed in doing this and to this day, he still struggles to use his index finger. Clearly it’s innate to point to things (I suppose in every culture we need to be able to point to threats when we can’t vocalize them), but Dean can’t fully communicate with the appropriate finger and when I correct him (“Use your number one finger!”), it takes him a bit of work to get the right finger to stick up. For the longest time we had to manually fix it ourselves to teach him, causing him to cry because he couldn’t do it himself.
Eating is another area that blows me away. I can see in Dahlia’s eating pattern what a typical kid should be doing. I can sometimes convince Dean to eat meatloaf muffins (just high fat beef, stove top, and extra sage in a muffin tin) so I broke off some pieces and gave some to Dahlia. While it took Dean an hour to listen to me nag “Dean, take a bite” combined with his incredibly long chewing process (using a fork to grab the already-broken-up pieces), Dahlia grabbed an entire meatloaf and inhaled it on her own. The exterior was quite tough because i had cooked it too long and it caramelized but she ate it up no problem. I was floored. I can’t even tell you the words to see my 1 year old eat faster and better than my 4 year old.
I’m doing all I can to instill good food habits in her. She’s also keen on feeding herself, something Dean never did. He was on purees for so long but he never cared to have his own spoon. Dahlia practically fed herself spaghetti all on her own the other day. It’s incredibly messy which kills me, because I know that I can’t constantly wipe her off (wiping a kid’s face frequently is another thing that can lead to oral sensitivities) but it’s worth it to have my kitchen and my kid be filthy if I don’t have to keep repeating for years on end “Kid, take a bite”.
I never understood before how people could end up with gooey, dirty baby toys. Now I get it…when your baby actually eats, it’s hard to get every food bit out of their hands. Dean rarely ever picks food up with his hands and the things he does are dry, so his toys are pristine. Dahlia’s toys are already pretty gross, combined with my lack of time to wipe them down weekly like I used to do with Dean’s toys.
But at the end of the day, I’m happy to at least have one kid who will eat. It’s a little sad though, because I see the anxiety Dean has with food. He switched programs in school to a “less restricted environment” (meaning more typical kid and less special ed), so the teachers aren’t on him to eat during the brief half hour they have for lunch. He’s already lost a pound and a half in a month. So we’re even more stressed about getting calories in him when possible, even if that means he continues to get special meals at home that he’ll eat. One weekend he got his usual Peanut Butter Captain Crunch (he won’t go near the regular one, or any other peanut butter cereal) while we begged him to eat a few small pre-made pancakes. For my husband, Dahlia, and myself I just made eggs.
It took all my energy to not start crying in the kitchen that morning, because it was so easy when I was just cooking on meal. Not that Dahlia didn’t take a bit of coercing, but she did eventually eat it all up. I can’t explain the feeling. It was like “wait…wait…is this what it’s like? Is this what it’s supposed to be like?”.
I understand that all kids have some level of pickiness and Dahlia will eventually get stubborn, but with her I’m confident in saying that I could let her to go to bed hungry if she’s being too picky. We’ve learned the hard way that Dean will indeed starve himself for days on end.
Now that I don’t have to worry about making baby purees anymore, I’m genuinely excited to start cooking again. I had given up, with my husband and I just scrounging for whatever was in the house so that we could dedicate all of our mealtime to getting Dean to eat. I’m excited to get Dahlia to eat real food, like real actual food and not the same stupid 5 things over and over.
I’ve also decided it’s time to step up my game in trying to expose Dean to more foods again. I’m researching more about strategies for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder and Selective Eating Disorder. At least this way if he doesn’t eat something, I’m not stuck eating it…Dahlia is my new garbage can. And I’m not even kidding…I’ve spent so much money on food that eventually ended up in the trash.
For example, one meal that I can take a good hour to beg Dean to eat are Don Jose frozen chicken taquitos with flour tortillas. Yes, not super healthy, I know. At this point, it’s the equivalent of a kale and quinoa shake in terms of the nutrition in his diet. Time to start food chaining…by trying either Don Jose chicken taquitos with a corn tortilla, a different brand of chicken taquitos in a floor tortilla, or Don Jose steak taquitos in a flour tortilla. I’ve opted for the latter and I’m going to try it tonight, we’ll see how that goes.
I just printed a recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Popcorn. Dean already likes popcorn (it’s dry and crunchy), so this might be an easy way to get extra calories in him.
And that’s life at the moment. Thank God for Pinterest, these days I’m all over it so I can start planning my life again. I’m a planner and the past few years have been really stressful not being able to plan anything other than Dean’s therapy schedules. If you’re bored, here are my Pinterest boards with everything from food to decorating to…well that’s pretty much it.