Whilst I fasted as a youngster at boarding school and I'm aware that there are people on the planet who choose to follow unusual diets, I didn't really think it was possible to live for weeks on a liquid diet. This is probably because I've never had reason to consider such matters prior to my present predicament after jaw surgery. Although I have very particular food preferences myself, I had my doubts about what could be the minimum number of 'foods' that would sustain existence without terminal boredom setting in. In the Western world of abundance, it's hard to think of existing on a diet of only rice or potatoes, but a considerable percentage of the world's population are in exactly that position and not by choice.
For me it emphasizes that light bulb moment when you realize that something is severely amiss. This occurred when junior was approaching three and senior was in the process of being diagnosed. [translation = a diagnoses generally takes a considerable amount of time for all the evaluations, assessments and observations to be completed prior to the written report.]
We were making our weekly trip to a restaurant in the hope of civilizing and socializing our children. I had just managed to squeeze the little one into the tiny highchair and strap him in without breaking both his legs. [translation = commercial high chairs are designed for babies, not a taller than average three year old] I started feeding him single goldfish at intervals just far enough apart to make the bagful last until we had completed our order with the server. As soon as she left, I whipped out three baby jars of sweet potatoes to feed him. Once they had been consumed, I would move on to surreptitious raisins, his third 'food.' His last ‘food,’ milk, would tide us over before we paid the bill and ran away. The four 'foods' status was established.
I fed him with a spoon because he was incapable of feeding himself. I was busy shoveling into the permanently open mouth when a father and two young boys sat next at the next table and quietly ordered their own food. Both of his boys were sitting on chairs, they chatted animatedly although I couldn't hear their conversation because of the din that my little crowd were making. As I saw the other three year old sink his teeth into a hot dog that he held between his own two little hands, it dawned on me that I was existing on a different planet to the rest of humanity.
I looked at spouse, harried and harangued. I looked at my daughter, sniveling because her brother kept collapsing on her like a deflated balloon. I looked at my oldest son, still incapable of holding any kind of utensils with a diet nearly as narrow as his little brother's. I looked at junior, wearing a baby bib that barely did up at the back of his neck and knew that I needed my own head examined.
As I had completed all the paperwork for senior I couldn't ignore that where he scored +10 on a question, his brother would score a -10. Each additional fact had piled up, not exact opposites but as near as made no odds. I looked at his arms and legs poking out from his clothes that were too small and label-less, worn smooth and threadbare since this was the third child. I saw his toes curling around the edge of his Spring sandals now that we were in December because they were the only pair that I could 'force' him to wear when footwear couldn't be avoided. My eyes were drawn to his cupid bow mouth, soft with permanently parted lips, without a functioning muscle for support.
I was tempted to crawl under the table and weep then and there. Instead we went home. I phoned the expert and made an appointment to start the second assessment before the ink was dry on the first.