Ethan has a persistent obsession with food. He thinks about it, plans what he wants to eat; sometimes several meals ahead and basically wants to discuss it....a lot! This is his thing and some days are better than others. We understand that it is very much based in the reality of his horrific beginnings. When you adopt a child who is 2.4 years old and he is completely malnourished, weighing in at a whopping 17 lbs., well, you can just guess that there was and probably always will be...a significant issue. Ethan never had any real food, other than formula until we adopted him and because of that fact, he was orally defensive and suffered from oral aversion. There was lots of therapy to get him over that hump.
Four years later, he still has food weirdness so we let him do what he needs to do, to assure himself that food is always available. When he is really in an overly fixated state, we verbally reassure him of that fact.
He has seemed to ease up a bit about the food lately, not a huge amount but in baby steps.
Today, I saw just how far there still is to go...
Ethan has to go to the dentist tomorrow to have another round of dental surgery. All that bottle drinking and poor care has done a real number on his teeth and so we are in round two of several procedures. We were discussing it with him tonight over dinner. I was explaining what would happen and then I told him that he would not be able to eat or drink in the morning before he went to the dentist.
As soon as I said it, I wished that I had not!
I saw the first sign of primal fear in his eyes and I knew what was coming. So, I did what any mother who does not want to see their child hurting would do - I began qualifying my previous statement and tried to drive the point home that he would just have a DELAYED breakfast. He was not missing anything and that he could have anything he wanted when he woke up....I even threw in the option that he could have his fav...chocolate ice cream.
But it was too late....the big sad flood gates opened. Not a spoiled, whiny, "I want to get my way" kind of crying...but deep, sad, "I am terrified when food is withheld from me" tears coming from his huge round eyes and down his cheeks kind of crying.
I felt devastated and so did Marc. We calmly assured him that he NEVER has to worry and that he could eat as much as he wanted as soon as he felt up to it. Katie also jumped in and reassured him...she was so sad for him. He asked a few more feeble questions about the whens, wheres and whys and finally he seemed to calm down after what seemed like an eternity.
I am quite sure that when we left him to go to sleep tonight, he was still thinking about missing that meal....no fear surrounding the pain of a dental procedure....just fear about missing a meal.
and I am left once again feeling helpless and sickened at the thought of that.