Monday, August 10, 2015

"He Ate The Whole Biscuit!"

I received this picture as a text message this morning from my son's daycare teacher with the text "He ate the whole biscuit!" I was sitting at my desk at work when I opened the text and I actually started to cry. 

Tears of Joy.

My boy is so much like other three year olds in so many ways, that sometimes it's difficult for others to see how much he has struggled in his short little life.

Eating is one of those struggles.

For various reasons, my son did not really start eating solid foods until he was almost 19 months old. For those of you who have raised children or are in the throes of raising little ones now, just think about that.  

Actually, just think about what it takes to eat in general: how your mouth has to move so that your teeth grind the food; how you have to keep your lips closed (for the most part, anyway) to keep from making a mess; how you have to get used to textures and tastes; how to keep the food from sliding and hiding in your cheeks; how to know when you've chewed the food enough so that you can swallow it without choking; how its feels to swallow food; this list can go on, but the mechanics of eating are quite complex which is why babies are introduced to soft solids early in life.  It's a learning process.  One that my son was not introduced to at a developmentally appropriate age.  

So my husband and I began our parenting journey with some unique challenges, one of which was teaching our son how to eat.  We had the help of doctors and specialists.  We had a nutritionist come to the house every other week for weigh-ins and discuss strategies.  We went to a feeding clinic for feeding therapy.  We spent months with our little guy strapped into a high-chair (long past the age that most kids want to sit in a booster seat or real chair). We spent meal after meal eating with our mouths open so that he could actually see the process of chewing. Throughout meals, we would periodically open our mouths (yes, with chewed food) so he could see what it looked like.  We would say "Ah!" really loudly after swallowing and again open our mouths so he could see that the food was gone. His wonderful daycare providers would sit and spoon feed him baby food while the rest of his peers were eating their lunches of regular leftovers.  Needless to say, eating has been a huge challenge.  

And while most parents know the frustration at one time or another of cooking a hot meal, only to have it thrown on the floor or across the table or fed to the dog, I know that frustration too, but I also know the pain watching my child choke or think he's choking with almost every bite because of a sensitive gag reflex.  I know the pain of having a roll of paper towels handy at every meal because vomiting was a pretty common occurrence (yes, at almost every meal).  But mostly, I know the pain of severe anxiety that if he didn't make enough progress we would be facing some pretty serious medical interventions like an NG tube placed down his nose or a feeding tube surgically placed in his stomach.

However, with perseverance, help from professionals, and good luck, we have avoided medical intervention and my son has started making progress.  He's still not quite on the chart and he still has a medical diagnosis of failure to thrive, but he's making progress. 

He has foods he likes, he tries new foods, and he will open our pantry to pick out his own snacks.  Our pantry which is stocked with all the snacks I know to be unhealthy - the sugar and high fructose corn syrup abound in our "food closet."  It is filled with all sorts of snack foods right at eye level. Snack foods that I know many parents raising health-conscious kids would balk at - off-brand Doritos, cheesy poofs, crackers, gummy snacks, granola bars - but snacks that my son will eat.  He will eat!

So, I don't talk meals or food choices with other parents because others are pretty quick to judge about eating patterns and routines.  I was raised by a health/family and consumer science teacher.  I knew about proteins, trans-fats, and carbs long before the general public assumed those words in our societal vocabulary.  Every time I open a new bag of chips, I feel the weight of the phrase "poor food choices," but I open the bag of chips that I know he will eat and my heart is happy, because he is eating, actually eating.  Feeding himself, chewing, swallowing (without gagging or vomiting), and reaching in the bowl for more.  For more! These are victories in my house, not poor food choices, but victories. 

So today, my son ate a biscuit...and I cried happy tears because "He ate the whole biscuit!"


  1. PRAISE GOD!!! We as parents have to do what is best for children, regardless of what society says.

  2. I cried too! Smart Boy, nothing like a southern biscuit!

  3. Was it a Bojangles' biscuit? If so, I know Chandler is doubly proud.

  4. What a fantastic post! I'm right there with you crying years of joy over a biscuit. :-)