Friday, August 22, 2014

After Placement Issues – Eating

This is dedicated to my mom:
Mom, I’m sorry for having been such a picky eater when I was a child. That couldn’t have been easy for you. You did a great job keeping me healthy and fed in spite of my outrageous shenanigans. I’m really sorry. But all those years in jest that you willed me to have a child just like me, jest no more. Yes, thank you, thank you very much.

My mom is a terrific mom. We had it made when we were growing up. She was a stay-at-home-mom, an awesome stay-at-home mom. We played and baked cookies and did crafts and I thoroughly enjoyed my childhood - most of the time. Five days a week my life was terrific. Mondays through Thursdays were golden. But come Friday, life began to look a little less rosy. As the dinnertime hour neared and the frying pan came out, I knew what was coming. Something horrible called “Fish Fridays.” I despised fish. Some discipline techniques used for me not eating the horrid fish involved sitting at the table until it was dark, going to bed hungry, or missing a fun Saturday activity with friends. Or sometimes all three. It was a showdown every Friday. Saturday we got a reprieve with some tacos or pizza. But come Sunday, when she put a stockpot of water to boil, I knew what was coming next….lentil soup, which was worse than fish. It is a vile substance. And then the whole performance started again. My brother started sneaking food to his room during the week so that he could ensure I was fed on my hunger strike nights. And then Monday came, and life was good again, until the next Friday.

This happened every week. I became stronger and more devout in my commitment to battles against the fish and the legume. The showdowns got outrageous. My mom finally got sick and tired of the berating about the “bad food”. So she taught me how to warm leftovers up or make a turkey sandwich for myself. She stepped back and I got to eat whatever I wanted. Peace came over the dinner table. We were both happy. And what do you know? I like fish now. But what’s more important is that I still love my mom!

I never had to wonder if my mom liked or loved me. I never had doubts. I was born from her womb. She kept me safe and healthy in utero and after I was born. She kept me safe from trauma. She nourished me, loved me like crazy, and gave me an awesome childhood.

I never was starving.

I never had to beg for money to get food. 

I’ve never eaten a half eaten cupcake out of a trashcan.

I’ve never been malnourished.

My legs are not bowed because I didn’t have nutritious food as a child.

My teeth didn’t come in with cavities from lack of proper nutrients for oral health.

I’ve never wondered where my next meal was coming from.

But your child probably has. And mine has too.

And for these reasons, now with my own child, sometimes I don’t get to make the dinner that I want to make. I haven’t been able to make gourmet macaroni and cheese in six months. Sometimes I have to eat a dinner of mashed potatoes and Chinese dumplings. And, yes, sometimes, I have to make two meals. And even if I make something I think Yiyi is going to like, I still have to have a backup plan because perhaps, just perhaps, today she will decide her previously favorite is one of her most detested. Sometimes dinner for her is a Nutella sandwich. If you are asking yourself “what is a Nutella sandwich?” please, let me enlighten you. It is simply two pieces of bread with a thick layer of Nutella in between. And if it’s Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and my enchiladas have too much cheese in them (she hates cheese with a fiery passion) and she wants to eat a Nutella sandwich, I say to myself, “well, there’s hazelnuts in here and hazelnuts have protein and therefore some nutritional value,” so I turn to her and say “sweetie, I would be happy to make you chocolate and bread. Would you like it whole or cut into triangles?”

And then she will eat her Nutella sandwich (yes, I know, I know, chalk full of palm oil, I am aware that it’s trash, calm down people). And I will rest easy tonight knowing that my child is going to sleep with a full tummy and hopefully also with the comfort that comes from knowing that there will be breakfast in the morning and lunch after that, and so on and so on. And when you adopt a child from a hard place that is what matters most.

As adoptive parents with kiddos who have eating challenges, we must realize that often these children are traumatized, have often gone without, feel out of control, and are so confused by the whole thing that controlling what they put into their body is sometimes the only thing they can do to survive. And there’s the more surface level issue of children from other countries who simply don’t like some of our food (c’mon, if you really think about how strange hamburgers are, it’s a wonder we eat them!)

Do not succumb to food battles! You are not using attachment parenting if you are battling about some dumb casserole. You are not putting your child’s needs first if you get upset about having to get up make a quick cup o’ noodles. It’s not about you. It’s not at all important. But what is important is that your child is fed and goes to sleep at night safely under the safe roof of parents who love him and that he wakes up in the morning feeling safe, secure, and more loved than he was the day before. And although it may seem silly, sometimes warming up some frozen pot stickers from Costco can really do more than nourish the belly. They may just nourish the soul a little too.

And that, my friends, is what they call “food for thought.” (Pardon the pun, but I had to do it!)  


Nikki has been working as an adoption social worker for the past 10 years.  The consummate single gal was married in 2012 and started an adoption process to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs from China soon after.  Nikki loves writing home studies in the Western Missouri area and preparing families for the realities of adoption.

No comments:

Post a Comment