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Monday, December 17, 2007

Tactile defensiveness every day

It’s a battle. He will eat the banana but I can rarely persuade him to peel back the skin himself. Even if we leap that hurdle, then I need to cut the banana into slices so that he can eat it with a fork. This is not a boy who will permit his fingers to be contaminated by direct digital contact. He needs a tool to protect his fingers from the texture of the banana.

It has been just like this for a very long time. Failure to co-operate on my part means that either he won't eat bananas at all, one of his thirteen precious foods, or he'll attempt to eat it whole with catastrophic results.

I dither and debate, but ultimately decide to go on strike and withdraw my services at least temporarily, until I’ve finished the washing up. Either he can wait a few minutes or do it himself. I know that patience is not one of his strengths but I doubt if he is sufficiently hungry to be motivated to tackle the task solo.

I watch him out of the corner of my eye. He yelps, just like a puppy when you step on their tail. His sister takes pity on him and snaps off the stalk for the first strip of peel. She looks me. My eyes widen, “come on! You can do it now. I’ve started it fur yah!” He tries, with the precision of a surgeon, thumb nail tip to index finger nail. There is no possibility that the skin on his finger tips will touch it. Each movement is accompanied by another yip. Some minutes later, two thirds of the skin has been removed. The banana is revealed,lying on it’s last layer of skin.

“Knife!” he bellows, but we slaves ignore his cries. Thwarted once again, he decides to be ingenious and brave at the same time.

The third Karate chop has barely made a dent in the fairly ripe banana but I am none the less impressed. I suspect that the sides of our hands, are not that sensitive, but it’s still a major step for him.

“Fork!” he commands. I shake my head sadly in reply, “sorry my hands are still wet.” This is sufficient explanation and excuse, as he is aware of the full horror of a fork or any other utensil, when it has been contaminated with a drop or two of water.

“Barnacles! Barnacles! Barnacles!” he swears, shamelessly. Many a child would leave the table and collect a fork. Many other children do not. I could prompt him to do this and he probably would, but without a verbal or visual cue he falls back on his own resources, but that’s what inertia looks like around here.

“I know!” he squeaks. He leans forward tentatively, wide mouthed so that there is no possibility that his lips will touch the banana. His teeth grip the lump and in it goes.

A full 45 minutes later he has Karate chopped and nipped his way through the whole banana. Appetite satisfied, because we all get there in the end, one way or another, resourceful little devils.

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