Grain Brain Family Journey Pt 3

03 Feb 2014 1:12 PM 

Cecelia continues to eat incredible quantities of food. Four hot dogs (I found some a Kroger that list ingredients as beef, sea salt, celery juice, and no antibiotics). Two smoothies a day. She likes to make them herself and pull out all the ingredients she wants in them. Spinach leaves, carrots, frozen strawberries or raspberries and almond milk are her favorite. We still have to add honey. Chicken, the breast is what she likes with salt. She still loves salt. I keep thinking she is missing some nutrient from food that causes her to want so much salt. She will eat a few spoonfuls of broth. She is taking probiotics, vitamins, and drinking only water.

We get dressed every morning and then I hold her until she is used to the clothes. This takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes a day. I read a book on children with sensory disorders and am trying to incorporate some of the exercises like foot rubs and luffa scrubs in the bath. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, I have become one of those insane parents! Then I count my blessings that it isn’t more serious than it is.

A lot of this is behavioral. Cecelia is our 3rd child and we are tired. She was so easy for the first three years of her llfe, we just let her do what she wanted. She stayed up late while Mike worked and fell asleep on the floor somewhere. At mid-night, when he came to bed, he put her in bed between us so we didn’t have to wake up when she called out for us in the night. Mike worked all the time when the boys were little and he loved being off when Cece was home. Lots of times I sent her with him to school and he would return with her a few hours later saying, “We just ran errands instead.” School had become optional for her. After fighting the boys for years on eating habits, we were just happy to get to sit down to dinner without someone crying. Instead of insisting Cecelia eat healthy food, we just gave her separate meals. All this time we were creating a perfect storm, and now it has come.

I have made a deal with myself to only fight battles I am willing to win. This means a constant mental calculation of, “Do I have time to duel it out with my four year old right now?” If not, I don’t ask her to do anything. Here is how I am dealing with things behaviorally:

I tell Cecelia, “I know your clothes are uncomfortable on your body, and I’m sorry you feel yucky, but in life we have to wear clothes whether they feel good or not.” At first I held her (restrained her) until she quit trying to pull them off. I would try and distract her from the feeling by talking to her or reading a story. On desperate days, I would yell for one of the boys to grab the ipad and turn on Scooby Doo. After about thirty minutes, she would usually calm down and become “user to her clothes.” Then, I began to suspect she wanted Scooby Doo more than being held and I made a new clothing rule. Cecelia stays in her room until she is fully dressed by herself. I do not say this lightly. The first time I waited half a day. It has shortened since then every day.

With food, I don’t serve her anything I really know she won’t eat, but she does not leave the table until it is eaten. The first few days were quite possibly the longest days of my life. Once she started eating everything on her plate, I added tiny bits of vegetables. I am talking a pinch of a carrot, a speck of a green bean, a crumb of broccoli.  And she couldn’t leave until she ate it. We are now up to half sized pieces of veggies. She voluntarily puts hands-full of spinach in her smoothies.

The most important aspect of dealing with behavior is the praise she gets when she does something we want her to. The boys cheer, Mike picks her up and hugs her, and I do my happy  dance. We make a seriously BIG deal EVERY time.

I know if I read this I would want to know, “How did you make her stay in her room or at the table.” Honestly, I held the door closed. Or I just put her back in there over and over until she gave up. At the table, Mike stood behind her chair and physically held it in place at first.

The other thing I would want to know is “How do you have time for all of this?”

We started over Christmas Break, and I kept her home from school for the first week after that. We get up really early now that she is in school to make sure we have time for the battles. A fabulous friend of mine suggested we let her sleep in her clothes for school because we have more time to do battles at night than we do in the morning. Finally, there are instances when I know I do not have time, so I don’t ask anything of her. I just grab her and her one pair of boots and stick her in the car. Then I drop her and her boots off at daycare and when I pick her up, the boots are always on her feet. If I know we have to hurry to eat, I only serve something I know she won’t fight me on. The one thing I will not compromise on is that once I have asked her to do something to do with clothes or food, I have to see it through.

Conclusions so far: The worst has ended after three weeks. I can see serious progress. I still get frustrated, but not as often. Having the whole family on board is so incredibly helpful. Cecelia is proud of herself. I have more energy to deal with this because I am on the healthy diet with her. Mike is sneaking donuts at work. I know this because I had to go the gynecologist for my annual and he told me he had seen my husband just that morning in the hospital library. There is only one reason he goes in that library!