It’s been an ON-GOING STRUGGLE; trying to get Jay to eat any real food. He’d be quite happy to live on cheese doodles all day, every day. I want different. A few months ago, he discovered that he liked pizza and that was VERY exciting for me. It made it so much easier to feed him something substantial when we were out and about. Pizza is pretty easy to access. They have it on board walks and at amusement parks and at Chuck-E-Cheese and they deliver it to our house. We could even go to a restaurant and order him something off the menu. What?!?!
BUT pizza is not really easy to pack in a lunch box. For years, all I’ve been able to put in his lunch box were Cheese Doodles and a Nutri-Grain bar. Oh and most recently, Cinnamon Toast Crunch (dry cereal).
I spoke with his teacher and school therapist and they both thought he would be open to expanding his diet at school even if he didn’t do so at home. In general, he seems more open and agreeable at school than at home. We decided that I would pack him a sandwich and they would try to get him to take even a few bites during lunch period.
Well … The 1st day that I sent the sandwich it came back home completely untouched. He even admonished me when I picked him up . His voice got deep and he crinkled his eyebrows as he said “No more sandwich in the lunch box. It’s gross. I NOT eat it. Yuck. Disgusting. Jay NOT eat da sandwich!!!”
The following morning I put another sandwich in his lunch box but he checked his lunch box before leaving for school in the morning and took it out. He flat-out refused to bring it to school. So for several days I stopped trying to send him to school with a sandwich.
His teacher asked me why I had stopped so I explained that it just made leaving the house in the morning too difficult. She then spoke directly to Jay and told him that he needed to bring the sandwich to school. In front of her, he said ok but as soon as we got into the car he started telling me that he was NOT going to bring the sandwich. NO WAY!
I had meant to ask CC if Jay mentioned anything about the sandwich when the boys were with him for the weekend but I never did. All I know is that on the Sunday evening when he was with me he started perseverating on the sandwich and how much he was not going to bring it to school or eat it or anything. “No sandwich. No Eat. No Nothing” were his exact words.
When Monday morning rolled around, the first words out of his mouth were “Mom, I not go to school today. I’m worried.” I asked him what he was worried about and he told me he was worried about eating the sandwich because it’s yucky and gross.
*Be still my heart. The words. The telling me how he felt.*
I actually wondered if I was being a really awful parent by forcing this sandwich issue. Had he not slept well worrying about the sandwich? I just didn’t know. I know it was for his own good. He needs to eat. He gets hungry. Like all of us, when he’s hungry he’s angry. Cheese Doodles are not cutting it.
Instead of putting it in his lunch box I asked his bus aide to give the sandwich to his teacher.
While I was in a meeting at work I got a text message from Jays teacher showing a half eaten sandwich along with the message “Jay did a great job during lunch today. This is what is left. Please send a sandwich every day for the rest of this week.”
I was so happy when I got that message.
At pick up time, Jay excitedly told me that he ate the sandwich and it was good.
The next day, I packed another sandwich and I got another message saying he had eaten it with no problems and he came home happy and telling me all about eating the sandwich.
Fast forward about 2 weeks and Jay has fallen in love with sandwiches. He asks for one every day. He tells me every day how much he loves them and how he eats it ALL and it’s so good.
Does that mean our little plan worked?
It’s such a balancing act – Knowing when to push them outside of their comfort zone and knowing when to let them be.
Can I stick with the sandwich for a while and then work on a piece of fruit after a while? Right now, the kid eats ZERO fruits and ZERO vegetables.
We’ll see I guess. I really just hope I’m not scarring him or causing real mental anguish with this. I worry all the time about what’s going on in his head and how he’s processing things and feeling things and if they will come back in the future to haunt us. I don’t know how a sandwich could haunt us exactly but I wonder.
(I feel like that took way too long to write and had way more words than was necessary. Oh well.)