Thursday, February 17, 2011

S is for Sucktastic

S is for Sucktastic.

Yes, it's just giggles and rainbows all the time over here. I'm just a bundle of joy and light these days.

Hey, stick with me, it's not that bad...

I am NOT about to whinge* away right now.  (No promises for the future, though, sorry.)

This is actually a Mommy Confessional; a tale of habitual mom-fail.

It is *I* who am sucktastic, not my life. (Well, OK, my life IS sucktastic, but that's another tale for another day.)

Ready for it?

Most days, this is dinner for my eight year-old son, Ethan:

Yes, indeed, that's shaped chicken nuggets and peeled apple slices.  Do you see anything green on his plate?  No, I didn't think so.  If you give the man a vegetable he acts like you've tried to poison him.

If you give the man a cooked meal that involves multiple ingredients, sauces, spices; actual, you know, cooking involved in the preparation?  He acts like you've tried to poison him.

If you give the man anything to eat that does not fit the definition of "kid food" Ethan keeps in his head?  He acts like you've tried to poison him.

If you giver the man a piece of fruit that is not an apple, peach or apricot... if you give the man an apple that is not a Granny Smith... if you give the man a dessert that is not chocolate or lemon... if you give the man Chinese food that is not fried pot-sticker dumplings... if you give the man milk that is not chocolate... if you put any sort of topping on his pizza... well, you know.  Poison, ACK!!!!

OK, you're getting the point.  Ethan is incredibly rigid about food.

I feed him as well as I can within the constraints of his limits.  Grains are often whole.  Everything is mostly organic.  He eats the high quality, high-end version of junky kid food.  He takes daily vitamins to make up for the lack of anything green in his diet.

How has this come to pass?  It's complicated.  It evolved.  And it centers mostly on my survival.

And I know this is not abysmal failure.  He doesn't eat fruit loops with coca-cola for breakfast.

But I still feel bad, knowing that I have not done everything I could have done to help make him a better eater.

I was a child that had family meals every night, where we all sat down together, ate the same home-cooked food and engaged in lively conversation.

This is not what I pictured feeding my family would look like: the kids eating separately, and completely different meals from each other, often with the TV on so they actually eat and do not fight through the whole thing.

Yeah, I said completely different meals.  And it's not just the constraints of Jacob's special gluten-free / casein-free (GF/CF) diet that causes that.  It's this....

Evidence I am not a COMPLETE mom-feeding-failure.  This is dinner for Jacob, Ethan's twin brother:


Yes, indeed, that's real chicken, fresh fruit salad (pear and pineapple), GF/CF crackers, and, wait for it... broccoli.  Which he asked for by name.  As in: "I want broccoli for dinner tonight, Mom."

I know this not a real home-cooked meal.  This was assembly.  The chicken is rotisserie from the market.  Someone else made those crackers.  I did cut up the fruit and steam the broccoli myself, though (ooooo, cooooking).

But still, all basic food groups represented?  Eaten with enthusiasm?  It's a win.

"Wait," you think, "isn't Jacob your autistic son, the one on the autism spectrum, who are usually notoriously difficult eaters?"

Why yes, yes he is.  But no, no he isn't.  Because, as I've said before (and I'm sure I'll say again), if you've met one kid on the autism spectrum... you've met *one* kid on the autism spectrum.

And Jacob breaks a lot of the rules and assumptions people have about autistic kids.  His version is: he loves food, vegetables included.  He is willing to try anything once.  Interesting flavors?  Bring them on.  Not rigid at all.

Also, about sleep?  Kiddos on the spectrum are notoriously bad sleepers, many needing melatonin to help them shut down their brains.  But Jacob has always been the better sleeper of the twins.

Put him to bed and he's down in five minutes.  And his snuggly bedtime routine?  Takes about five minutes.  He needs (and mostly gets) a good 10 to 11 hours a night of sleep.  Goes to bed at 7:30 on school-nights.

Ethan on the other hand, as I have noted before (and if you follow me on Twitter you have heard many a 140 character grumble from me about), is just HELL to put to bed.  He's a classic night owl. He revs up at bedtime. Gets anxious. Wants to talk for hours.  Is scared of the dark.  Hates to go to sleep.

Sometimes he melts down completely and literally rolls around in his bed kicking and snarling like a cartoon Tasmanian Devil. Sigh. This is usually on a Sunday night, when the anticipation of the transition from weekend-time to school-time just unhinges him.

There are many, many ways in which my autistic son is actually the mellower, easier going, more laid back of my two boys.  Go figure.

So if I feed my high-strung, high-maintenance non-autistic son on (high-quality) kid food until his tastes expand and his palate matures?  Please don't judge me.

I know it's a mom-fail.  But sometimes these are necessary.

Sometimes we just have to let ourselves be sucktastic at one part of life, so we can carry on brilliantly with at least some of the rest.

This post has been inspired by and linked up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday writing meme. And isn't "S" just a curvaceous, sexy looking letter?  DOH! Wouldn't "S is for Sexy" have been a much more fun post? Next time, my friends.

* I know I am American and here we say "whine" but I like the Britishism "whinge" so much better. Must be the influence of my dear Australian friend. (Don't worry I'm not going whole hog, I won't be calling our garbage "rubbish" any time soon.)