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Monday, August 06, 2007

Oral defensiveness and budgetary control

Many, many lifetimes ago, I was a purist. My first born child lived on a diet of ambrosia. [translation = organic, fresh produce, lovingly prepared without salt or any other pollutants] Sugar was an unknown substance to her. It is directly because of this mistake that I now suffer the consequences.

My youngest son, now aged 6 and a half protects his mouth, because he has oral defensiveness. This symptom is one of many that an autistic child may or may not have. [translation = optional extra with no additional charge] He is also neophobic. [translation = fears food] His bravery in the food department has grown considerably over the last few years following early intervention to help de-sensitize his mouth. Instead of only eating three foods [Goldfish, Cheerios and milk] he now enjoys a relatively vast panoply of some 17 foods. [translation = when he reaches 21 'foods,' he can cast off the label ‘neophobic,’ as the cut off is 20] Yes, it’s true. Very soon he will graduate from ‘neophobic’ to ‘picky eater.’ Horray!

In the meantime, I have other pressing concerns, namely cost. Some six months ago I stopped reveling in the delight of watching my son eat his 13th food. [translation = baby oatmeal] I no longer concerned myself with the pleasure of knowing that he was consuming 4 ounces of milk along with the dreaded baby oatmeal. I was growing tired of experimenting with different coloured, expensive, sprinkles and sugars, to dust the surface and entice his tastebuds and lure his eyes. Why was I buying little packets of very expensive baby oatmeal for a 6 year old? This behaviour had to stop. Those packets, even the very big ones, are very small. This means that they are also very expensive. [translation = because they are little] If you are six years old with a big tummy, not a baby tummy, you can write off a packet every five days. At $3.99 a pop, such extravagance had to cease! [translation = if not forthwith, then at least lets make a start]

I stole some of spouse’s Quaker Oats, big boy food that is especially good for those with diabetes, heart conditions, high cholesterol and weight issues. In order to make oatmeal, [translation = porridge] the chef must grind those rolled oats to dust. This provided me with my aerobic workout for the day. It still had ‘bits’ but they were little bits, not big bits.

I am happy to report that after six months of de-sensitization, Junior will now consume porridge. We have yet to go ‘cold turkey’ on the sugar sprinkles, but we’re moving in the right direction.

Whilst shopping in the supermarket, my little eye, spied a handy dandy convenient alternative. Individual sachets of different flavoured porridge with all kinds of enticements therein, such as sugar dinosaurs. Admittedly, dinosaurs are a thing of the past in this household, [translation = extinct on the planet and extinguished at home] but there is always an outside chance that we can tempt him in to pastures new.[translation = try anything once]

“He ain’t gonna eat it Mom!” she says succinctly, as I sit in my usual position. [translation – next to my son with a teaspoon quarter loaded in what I hope is an attractive manner]
“Who could resist that cute little red dinosaur or that winkum dinkum little yellow egg!” I ask rhetorically. She doesn’t answer, merely rolls her eyes and gently shakes her head.

My son sits in his carver chair [translation = caged to the table] His knees are curled up to his chin. His arms wrap themselves around his legs leaving his hands free to be clamped over his mouth. He has double protection, as the right hand fans out over the left hand. Just in case I have devious plans, his eyes are squeezed tight shut. The spit bowl is strategically placed at the point on the table where his elbow might be, if his elbows were not already tucked neatly into his sides. I couldn’t have done a better job myself even if I had put him in a straight jacket. He is as neatly coiled as a spring.

My older son continues to eat his Weetabix with a fork, slowly, but feels the need to add his two pennarth. “I dun fink he is gonna eat it either!”
“Well thank you for sharing guys!”

This has been the daily scene for some ten days now. Six months to go from baby oatmeal to adult porridge. How long to go from porridge with sugar sprinkles, to porridge adulterated with other substances? I begin to wonder if this campaign is an improvement or merely cyclical? Whilst wholesome mothers of the world serve their offspring the best that money and effort can provide, I, on the other hand, am rocketing my own son into the somewhat murky world of dental caries. Is one flake of oats beneficial if accompanied by it's own weight in sugar? [translation = logic and mathematical challenge of the century]

I remember the penniless student at University. He decided to save money and made up a vat of porridge which he poured into the top drawer of his desk. After several weeks of this exclusive mono diet, he was carted off to hospital with a severe case of Rickets. I wonder which is better, Rickets, achieving adulthood but without the benefit of teeth or malnutrition if not death? My arm begins to ache and draws me back to the matter at hand.

Her fingers toy with my tools of the trade. The face cloth that is now cooling, the vibrating spoon, all used to de-sensitize his face and mouth prior to his ordeal. “How long do yah think it’s gonna be this time?” she asks distractedly, glancing at the window. She continues, “you know you’ve forgotten the tick chart, or shall we use stickers or stamps?” [translation = additional motivational tools for the truly desperate] I look at my daughter who will be ten in 6 months. “I’d forgotten about those dear, thank you! What do you think? Which one shall we use?”

Junior interjects and unravels to announce his own solution, the lowest common denominator, “I know! We be doing dah tick chart wiv dah stamps AND dah M&M's for each mouthful I am being swallowed in my tummy.” [translation = as opposed to spat out]

Lummy! Things really have improved! [translation = the M&M days are long gone{faded and finally extinguished}]

It’s just as well that there are other people around to remind me of the full arsenal at my disposal.

So saying, neophobia is one matter, but other people have a whole plethora of food difficulties or an entirely different magnitude as you can see over at my pal "Phantom's" blog at "the Phantom Scribbler."

There again, I'm suffering from a little oral defensiveness "myself."

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