Friday, September 3, 2010

Domesticity, and picky eaters

Some days it's good to just stay home and do homebody-type things.  Today was one of those days for us.  I did some cleaning, and some cooking, and some art. 

The kids have enjoyed the down-time, with only a couple "I'm bored" comments today.  Since school starts in just a few days, they're both kind of antsy and short-tempered with each other.  Our son in particular is nervous about going back to public school, and he's showing some increased tics and shorter temper.  I've encouraged him to get some space, read, listen to music, go for walks, and generally relax.  Our daughter says she's not nervous about school at all, but she's acting like she is - a bit short-tempered, no patience at all with her brother, and being a bit needy.  This will be a long weekend, I think.

We have friends coming over for dinner tonight.  I'm serving the vegetable beef soup I made last night, drop biscuits, fresh melon from our garden, and homemade apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.  Out of all that, my kids will eat biscuits and dessert, so I'll make sure they eat a yogurt to get some token protein. 

Food is a battle I decided not to fight with our kids about 8 years ago, when our son was little.  He's very sensitive to oral texture and taste and smell.  We joke that he has bionic taste buds, and that he'd make a fantastic food sniffer/taster IF he could test a food he actually likes.  But early on he started refusing to eat many foods, and after a long while of trying to force him to eat things (which resulted in him having tantrums, screaming, gagging, and finally vomiting over a bite of mashed potatoes), I decided that I was sick of every meal time being a battle.  If I told him he could only eat what I served, he wouldn't eat anything.  Really, he was (is) that stubborn, and with the behavioral issues he showed due to the autism (even before the diagnosis, we knew something was going on), I realized that I'd have to pick my battles, because EVERYTHING was becoming a huge contest of wills. 

(This is the kid who could tell when I'd bought a different brand of milk from the taste alone, without seeing the container.  This is the kid who has a distinct preference for ONE kind of margarine over all others, and can tell the difference with a sniff, again without ever seeing a container.  Ditto for anything else he likes.  This is the kid who will eat certain brands of plain shredded mozzarella, but not string cheese or cheese that's been melted on pizza.  I could go on and on about his hyper-sensitivity to taste and smell.  The milk thing in particular was a pain - we joked he could tell which farm the milk came from by taste alone.)

Thus food became an also-ran in the priorities in our family.  I've taken some heat for that decision from some people, who think I've just spoiled the kids by "giving in" on this one.  They're both picky eaters, and I can rarely serve a meal that will please all four of us, so I don't try very often.  I cook what my husband and I like, and make sure the kids get an assortment of reasonable alternatives.   Everyone eats a healthy, balanced diet, and I'm not stuck fighting with my family every night.  Slowly they're both trying new things.  They're not allowed to complain at meals where they're guests - they know they can eat from the alternatives present at that meal, or not eat at all, and they have to be polite about it.  It's not perfect, but it works for us.

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