Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kiss the chicken

My three boys have a condition called sensory defensiveness. It's the body's way of misinterpreting sensory input. It shows up in various ways. You may be familiar with milder forms of it-- if your socks don't feel right in your shoes, you don't like people to hug you, or certain food textures just feel weird. We have the food thing. On steroids.

Meal time is very interesting in our house, to say the least. I don't like having guests during meals. I consider it tantamount to torture. We try to balance our meals between food that the boys will eat and food that they should get used to. But when we introduce something new, the shrieking begins.

Chicken, of all the bland, kid-friendly meats, has been the bane of our existence. Our younger two have refused it repeatedly for the last year or so. Mashed potatoes are deadly, and pasta may as well be the Axis of Evil. Kim Jong-Il is the father of spaghetti in our house.

One of the techniques that we have learned from the many therapists is the kissing technique. You work the undesired food into mealtime by having it on the table. Then you move it to the plate. Then, if the plate doesn't go flying, the food goes on the fork. This is the sticky part. Getting your child to let that food go ANYWHERE within the vicinity of his mouth is sweaty work. Hence, the kissing technique. All you need to require of them is that they kiss the food. Nothing more.

"Here comes the chicken. Mmmm. Sure looks tasty. All you need to do is kiss it."

::headshake, tuck head under table:: "Uh, uh."

"Come on, you can do it. Wow! Looks delicious!"

"No. NO!" Slaps it away.


It goes on and on. No progress, just frustration. Our youngest will go dinner after dinner without eating ANYTHING. It doesn't matter what type of desirable food you offer if he just tries it. Nothing works. You feel like the winner of the Worst Parent Ever award when you can't get your kid to eat. I refuse to make alternate meals, so he goes to bed with an empty stomach.

Our kids enjoy a show called Pucca. It's about child ninjas and it's made in Korea, I believe. It's also made of pure speed, right off the streets. Seriously. I go into convulsions from the first few notes of the intro song. It's catchy but oh so dangerous. And I owe it a lot. Because pasta is now our friend.

Our middle child, "S", decided that he wanted to help me cook spaghetti noodles because Chef on Pucca does the same thing. And after you cook noodles, what do you do? Eat them, of course! Which is exactly what he did. It doesn't matter that I've tried to get him involved in cooking meals before. Pucca is the Korean dictator in our household now.

"S" found two plastic sticks that were about two feet long and declared them chopsticks. He sucked down noodle after noodle. He even took the bowl of noodles to bed with him. I couldn't say no! This was the ultimate payoff.

Tonight we had plain spaghetti noodles around during dinner as well. And you know what we saw? Our youngest, handling noodles. A first. He ::ahem:: was decorating a toy bus with the spaghetti. But for us, this was huge. He looked up with a big smile and a wrinkled nose and declared, "Sticky!" And then he went right back to the noodles.

Thank you, Korea.

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