Ms. WW and the Neophobic

Ms. Wordless Wednesday visits to pass judgment upon my offering. I should just like to point out first, to a few “person[s]” who may be in doubt, that I have a perfect “BBC English accent.” If that’s too tricky imagine that you are talking to the Queen of England.

“Well, that’s not too bad this week, maybe even a little cute?”
“You sound doubtful?”
“Well it would help if his eyes were open of course, but no, I just have this uneasy feeling that there may be some hidden agenda?”
“I never hide my agenda, I broadcast them.”
“Sad but true. Am I gonna have to guess?”
“You guessed right!”
“Dang! O.k. so this little guy is the one that doesn’t eat anything?”
“Right. Well sort of right.”
“You always qualify your ‘rights’ with ‘buts’!”
“‘Buts’ or ‘butts’?”
“Stop teasing or I won’t play.”
“O.k. He does eat, fine strapping little chap that he is, just not the variety that a parent would wish for.”
“Which gives him that label, the neophobic label?”
“Right, someone who eats less than 20 foods. We have high hopes that he will graduate to ‘picky eater’ some time in the not too distant future.”
“When he gets to 21 foods?”
“Exactly. What a star you are!”
“That reminds me, I just have to ask. You said he eats seventeen things. What are those things?”
“Is this a ‘you show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ kind of a deal?”
“Less of the kinky foreigner stuff please!”
“Fair enough. So he eats squeezy yoghourt, bananas, fries, cereal, cookies, raisins, applesauce, Belgium chocolate pudding, chocolate cake, pretzels, pancakes, Nutella sandwiches and Goldfish.”
“Geez I knew that the Brits were Math challenged, but I’d have thought that even you could count to 13!”
“Ah yes. You’re right it is only 13.”
“So what’s with 17 crapolla!”
“Well we sort of mislaid a few recently.”
“Mislaid! How can you mislay 4 foods when you only eat 17!”
“Indeed, I can see there’s no chance of pulling the wool over your eyes.”
“So, where did they go? How come ya lost em? Getting careless in yur old age?”
“Well you see if you don’t ‘practice’ your foods …..”
“Use it or lose it?”
“So can I ask which ones you lost?”
“Jello, wieners, pasta and rice.”
“Oh couple of primary carbs there!”
“Verily. We’ve been toying with potatoes too. But we have conquered bread.”
“Yup, only one kind though.”
“’WE’ ? Sounds as if this lil guy’s the one doin all the work to me?”
“How alarmingly astute you are, as always.”
“Sure, I just feel that he should get the credit he deserves.”
“How true and observant.”
“You know my little brother only ever ate cereal, chips and pizza. Today he’s six foot.”
“Golly! Just those three?”
“Well beer now he’s grown.”
“I wonder if mine will graduate to beer?”
“Tell you what, when he’s 21 we’ll split a keg.”
“Your generosity and support take my breath away. Such a weight off my mind.”
“Well ya know we all need a little love and understanding.”
“Sounds a little 60’s to me! Underneath it all, are you really a bit of a granola head?”
“Don’t use American terminology without warning me first! Geez I can almost hear your fake American accent!”
“Peace man! I love you guys.”

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Perseveration with a sprinkling of OCD [on the side]

“I don't think he cares one way or another, as long as they serve chips. [translation = French Fries]
“True, but so many restaurants don't have any cruet.”
“I know, but there again, if they have anything, they usually have the salt.”
“Unless we go to an Italian, then you have two foot of pepper mill being lobbed around by some minor, but not a salt cellar in sight!”
“Odd combination really. There again, if we go Italian, there probably won't be any chips either.”
“It's so strange.”
“Strange. A very strange country.”
“Mind you, if he carries on the way he is, we could probably do with avoiding that particular perversion.”
“True, I don't think people understand.”
“Well it's so unhygienic, regardless of the other health risks.”
“Still, nobody noticed last time.”
“That was over three months ago now, and they did, notice, that is to say.”
“The last time we went to a restaurant?”
“Yes. So he's not really had the opportunity in the meantime.”
“Do you still have the salt cellar locked up?”
“Oh yes. Stuffed at the back of the cupboard, the one full of cereal.” [translation = disguised by the horror of the equivalent of barbed wire, that is breakfast cereal.]
“Oooo! I’ve just thought! Do you think we could count it as a ‘new food’?”
“Food? More like a chemical or an additive.”
“I like that. We count the additive.”
“Well, I don’t know, might be considered cheating.”
“Well if salt is a chemical, then so is water, H2O and all that.”
“Gosh. I just had a thought too! He drinks water. Water isn’t part of his 13 foods.”
“You’re a genius! That means we’ve hit 14 foods without even trying.”
“How come we never thought of that before?”
“At this rate of progress, he won’t be a neo any more.” [translation = neophobic, a person who eats less than 20 foods]
“She didn't look very happy at the time.”
“The server.”
“Which server?”
“At the restaurant.”
“Right! When she lifted the tablecloth to see a six year old chugging down on a salt shaker.”
“Hmm, I think it was the other three empty ones that he'd stolen from the other tables that freaked her out.”
“Just think, he'll live for ever, like a little pickled er………”
'No, er……?”
“Pickled egg? Roll mop herring, pepper, walnut……?”
“Hardly! And none of those are American.”
“What then?”
“Oh I know, Gherkin!”
“Ah! Dill pickle! Actually, they're all in vinegar. H must be more like an anchovy!”
“Hmm, he's certainly swimming against the tide.”

Health Warning – each salt cellar only a few grains in them
Healthy Note – many children and some autistic ones, enjoy lining things up
Caution – don't try this at home. [translation = or in a restaurant]

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[translation = failure to express oneself adequately and model appropriate behaviour]

I attempt a verbal warning, but end up drooling instead, which severely reduces the impact of my message. But that’s what happens when you “fail to research” a matter thoroughly enough prior to going under the knife.

Lately I have had considerably more empathy with my youngest son and his inadequate lip closure. From his earliest days his drool production was supreme, surpassing any dog that I have ever had contact with. [translation = hypersalivation] Then I thought that plastic backed bibs were the solution. A great number of them were utilized throughout the average day, each one discarded as it reached maximum capacity. We were a household of several dozen such items with laundry bills to match. As usual, due to inadequate parental attention, when his neck grew too thick to accommodate the length of strings on the bibs we switched to double T-shirting him, a rare and unrecognised art. Always the glistening chin, the damp T-shirt and the soft open mouth. ‘Perhaps he drools because he’s concentrating so hard!’ was the general conclusion. Strangely, that was in part, the truth. “Oral motor” issues were investigated.

I would hasten to point out that dribbling is not a symptom of autism but it MAY, in some instances, be an indication of poor or low muscle tone. If this is coupled with speech that sounds as if your child has a mouthful of marbles, it would be worthy of further investigation.

Even a sigh also means spittle. My usual state of grumpy has escalated to volatile as I wait for the painkillers to kick in. It has taken me nearly a precious hour to remove all the elastic and replace with newer twangier elastic on my braces, challenging my crocheting skills to say nothing of my patience. I take a deep breath and then seek out the child that I so unjustly admonished.

I take my non verbal autistic child to one side so that I am better able to bury him in a lengthy explanation as to the cause of the higher levels of grumpiness. This is a child that listens best when his body is in motion. This means that whilst technically we are sitting on the sofa together, his body rolls, stretches and squirms, in the way that a cat does when trying to settle. Whilst a cat eventually finds the right spot to nestle done, my son does not.

I explain the ratio of pain to grumpiness in a parent, and possibly other people too. For some reason I feel the need to further justify my parental error and give a scientific version of the same events. Removal of elastic on the braces also removed pressure on the jaw, mouth flies open and floats. When the new elastics are fitted, blood rushes to every nerve ending and screams. I remember to late, that what I know about science can be written on the back of a postage stamp. Why didn't I think this through before I started? I give up on the scientific explanation and try another tack. It's as if a nest of money spiders have just exploded in your mouth and are swarming over every surface inside your mouth and over your face and nose.

We clarify the term 'money spiders,' together with a visual aid. He points out my error. The spider I have in mind is a red spider mite, not a money spider. He tries hard to hide his scorn at my inferior intellect and poor categorization skills. 46 years on the planet and I appear to be woefully behind in the arachnid department. He takes pity on me and doesn't dwell upon my error. Mercifully, we move on.

As I close the computer and I check his comprehension. Is this an analogy that works for him or have I just added to his “phobia quotient?” He turns his body in my general direction whilst he jigs his Irish dance, hands clasped in the small of his back, “ you know mum……..for me……for my mouth….it is dah same…….all dah time.”

Can I use that as a definition of “oral defensiveness?”

It would seem that he’s not the only one who has difficulty controlling his “body.”

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Actuarial skills – 57 varieties

If your home houses a picky eater, you may find yourself spending an unnatural amount of time with fictitious conjectures into the future. [translation = my own food fetish] If your picky eater is also autistic, then the problem magnifies itself into catastrophic proportions. In my son's particular case, he is the worst kind, worse than a picky or fussy eater. He is a neophobe. That's right, he's afraid of neo's. “What pray?” I hear you cry, “is a 'neo?'” For current purposes, we'll say that it is something 'new,' which means that he is phobic about eating new things.

A neophobe eats less than 20 different items of food. Currently, he eats 9 ‘foods,’ a considerable improvement on he previous 3 foods, although it has taken us 3 years to reach this staggering pinnacle. Parents should note that it is cheating to count different varieties of Milano cookies. It is cheating to count different brands of cookies that are like Milano cookies, but hopefully cheaper. It is cheating to count Saltines or other crackers. Why does he have such expensive tastes? Who was the idiot who first gave him one of those biscuits? [translation = cookies]

Yes, life is very unfair for the parent desperate in the desire to re-catogorise the primary food groups of the world. If you can call 'cookies' a food 'type,' [please?] then, whatever configuration they might take on, they still only count as ONE.

For the sake of the mathematically challenged, such as myself, I feel it's safer to round up, to be cautious. Certainly more optimistic than to round down. So lets say that he's six years old, give or take a couple of months, so that's not too much of a stretch. Hence if a six year old manages to consume one new 'food' during a three month campaign, this would mean that, all things being equal, during the course of a whole year, four additional foods would be added to his diet. Ergo, by the age of 18, projecting forward, we might reasonably expect that he will have achieved a diet of 48 foods. If we add those foods that he has already managed to acquire during the prior six years, and we must, 'add' that is, that would reach a grand total of 57 foods. Could that really be possible? Maybe I should ask “Mr. Big brain,”, but since he is also a Brit, I think that automatically disqualifies him, as ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ ain’t gonna cut it.

I glug another bottle of Ensure, strawberry flavour, to nourish the body, if not the soul. If I continue to consume my current 5 flavours of Ensure, I guarantee that I will die of terminal boredom. Why are there not 57 varieties of Ensure? Would be possible to survive on 57 flavours of Ensure for an additional 12 years?

However, such projections as to his future gastronomy, fail to take into account risk; risks of failure, unexpected hurdles that can't be overcome, which wouldn't be a very thorough job.

Keeping the food seasonal might help with both establishing realistic goals, as well as minimizing costs, as strawberries in February, even in California, are not to be encouraged. My experiments with spinach and brownies have been a culinary coup, but when eccoli invades the crop, the campaign disappeared down the drain very swiftly. There again, the chance of me getting him to eat a vegetable, let alone something green, is probably still several life times away. I wonder how many leap years there are in the next 12 years? Perhaps I should count in light years?

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The Bribery and Corruption method of bringing up a child

Now I know what you're thinking, so don't just start in on me, as to be honest, I really don't have a leg to stand on. The thing is, you have to work with what you've got, and at the moment, all I have to work with is chocolate.

I mean, when did you last go down on bended knee to your child, beg, plead and implore to them, to just take a little nibble of chocolate ……..and then they can get down from the table? Not recently I would venture to suggest.
Rather you had whip your hand back quickly before they bit your fingers off. Me? I have to restrain mine in his chair to prevent escape. Actually, three of my other ones would be the latter category too. We only have one true deviant about these parts. Well maybe two, but leave me out of the equation.

The fact that he eats chocolate at all, is something that I relish, because in theory it opens the door to a myriad of possibilities. Did you know that they make such a thing as chocolate covered pretzels? Unlikely I know, but it's perfectly true. There are other more obvious choices, such as chocolate covered peanuts and raisins. Then there are lots of different varieties of chocolate itself. I have a big pool to draw upon here. Thus far, our success rate is a big fat zero. As noted in previous posts, the issue of texture is always our downfall. There again, appearances can be deceptive. Merely changing the shape of the ‘food’ in question is enough to upset the applecart.

He eats pretzels, ergo he should be able to eat chocolate covered pretzels, ditto chocolate covered raisins, but unfortunately these happy combinations have evaded him. We'll gloss of the chocolate covered poison packs for obvious reasons. [translation = peanuts are in their own sub category of poisonous foodstuffs, even though I'm fairly confident that technically speaking, he is not allergic to them]

The idea in principal, is to pick a desirable food, such as broccoli, where the ratio of chocolate covering to vegetable matter would be beneficial and then get him to eat it. That is what we're aiming at. I know that goal is a long way off, but it is better to travel hopefully than to……….. something or other, I forget.

I think, realistically, that since he eats chips [translation = fries] that a chocolate covered potato might be a good starting point. However, that might be a biased Irish gene providing undue weight in the decision making process. Spouse, another non vegetable eater, pointed out that we might be better fixing our sites a little lower. He was wise to avoid mentioning chocolate infused pasta and expose his own gene pool bias. Hence, as always, heeding to his superior grasp of the situation, I managed to hunt down a variety of different shaped chocolates as a stage one. Remember if a food changes shape from cube to stick, or quarters to halves, it effectively changes category too. It becomes ‘new food’ as a result. Stage two would be to try different types of chocolate such as Ghiradelli's or Hershey's.

Thus far the prospects are not propitious, but we'll keep you posted. I will be the one in the kitchen trying to make chocolate trapezoids as a dodecahedron is way beyond my skill set.

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Animal, vegetable or mineral? From way back when…..

“What is dat?” he asks breathlessly.

“It is a sweet potato,” I explain, worryied whether it is indeed a sweet potato or whether I am unwittingly providing him with false ammunition to beat me with later.
There seems to be a great deal of confusion between what is a yam and what is a sweet potato? I have never sought to clarify this deficit, despite having been a resident for more than a decade and a citizen for a few years, because they are both loathsome. As a vegetable they are vile because they are sweet, but to put them in a pie is equally as reprehensible. Who ever heard of carrot pie? [Translate = a transvestite of a flan]

“No, it is a humungeous lemon!” he announces. That probably means that it is a yam and not a sweet potato? What on earth have I purchased, and why did I listen to the advice of the checker. [translation = probity of checker dubious due to the fact that she was unfamiliar with Swedes. {sub translation = rutabagas]

“It is a potato lemon?” he blurts, raising his eye brow, hoping for a hit.
I prod it, to see if the skin will come off yet.
“May be,” I add dubiously.
“It is disgusting anyways, any road up!” [Aside = gosh he automatically translated himself!] Soon junior son will be five.

For the first three and a half years of his little life he ate almost an exclusive diet of sweet potatoes, as only orange food was acceptable by that time. As he reached his fourth birthday, pureed carrots were out and he had an orange aura about his person. [translation = carrotine poisoning?] He would surely have perished without the intake of the humble sweet potato in such vast and exclusive quantities. I can't say that I view little orange gold fish crackers as a nutritional advance, orange or not.

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