Sitting at dinner tonight at a restaurant with my family, I was trying to have a conversation with my husband over the kids' fighting and yelling. Dinner time is not a happy, pretty scene in our family, and it is not for the faint of heart. Brady, who falls apart when he is hungry or tired, was yelling that I was mean for making him eat when he did NOT need to and did NOT want to and most definitely was NOT hungry. John and I eyed each other over our red-faced teary boy (the sure sign that he is hungry) and I came up with a brilliant idea. If I could only invent a device like an epi-pen that instead shoots food right into his bloodstream. Maybe then we could avoid the mealtime drama and tantrums. We could sneak/shock feed him when he wasn't paying attention and he would never have to admit that he's secretly hungry. He wouldn't have to give in, and we wouldn't have to fight him. The relief for all of us would be near instant.
It's been an on-going battle for six years now. Since he was born at a tiny 4lbs 12.5oz, he has resisted eating. We stayed with him extra days in the hospital due to his low blood sugar, and he had to receive IVs and even briefly had a feeding tube. I remember the moment of walking into the hospital nursery and the shock of seeing our tiny boy looking like this (IV in his head and feeding tube in his nose):
It was a terror then, and yet now, sometimes I miss that tube that guaranteed he was being fed.
We left the hospital with our tiny package and instructions to wake him up every 2 hours at night to feed him. It would take him 45 minutes to drink an once, and then we'd have to wake him (and ourselves) again an hour and 15 minutes later to repeat the process. That created a monster that today resists sleep and food and denies ever being hungry (unless you're offering snacks) or tired (even though his actions and attitude prove otherwise). I still feel like we're force feeding him constantly. After years of worries about his small size and every variety of test, his pediatrician has finally admitted that he's just going to be small (he finally made it ON the growth chart at his last checkup, with the astounding measurements of being in the 10th percentile for height and the 5th percentile for weight...this is big growth for us!)
I know that in the scheme of things this isn't a major problem. We are blessed by healthy kids that are sweet and smart and polite 35% of the time (that's pretty good, right?) It is just another reminder of what little I can actually control. It's the ongoing lesson of parenthood that I would rather forget, and yet I guess it's the lesson I most need to learn (or God would stop beating me over the head with it). It's why I'm trying to learn more compassion when people stare at my screaming kids in the restaurant like they could better control them if they had the chance, and why I'm aiming to show more grace to other parents. It's always easier to judge another than it is to fix your own issues. I saw a word once that I've liked and stored away so that I could use it one day--blubbernecker: a stranger who gawks at your tantrum-throwing kid.
So will you join me in my new creed (thanks to http://www.scarymommy.com/the-scary-mommy-manifesto/) and let's put an end to blubbernecking: