Comfort Food

Holiday Dinner

On Saturday morning, the boys had waffles for breakfast. Andrew really likes pancakes and waffles, in part because we let him practice using a knife. Neither of the boys has great fine motor control, so practicing with a knife is a lot of work for him, and it just doesn’t always go the way he wants.

This was especially the case with his waffles.

I’m not entirely sure how it happened. I know that I couldn’t reproduce it if you gave me a hundred waffles on which to try. Before Andrew managed to take a single bite of his waffle, before any portion of it was cut from the whole, his waffle was somehow airborne. It flipped end over end, almost in slow motion, and plummeted toward the floor.

It did not hit the floor, of course, because the world’s happiest dog caught it and swallowed it in one triumphant gulp. She waits under the table at every meal, because she is no fool. She knows where food falls. But a whole waffle? This was no accident. Buffy was certain that Andrew had given her the greatest gift a child can give to a dog.

So the humans are all silent for a moment, taken aback by the sight of a flying waffle. But Buffy knows what you do when someone does something nice for you, so she trots over to Andrew to thank him. Her tail is wagging so far from side to side that her entire back half is waving with it, and she rests her head on his lap.

Part of Andrew knows that this is funny. But another part of him is certain that he has LOST HIS WAFFLE FOREVER. He’s trying to hold back his tears, but it’s a struggle. There’s a sharp intake of air after every word.

“I <gasp!> know <gasp!> that <gasp!> you <gasp!> didn’t <gasp!> mean <gasp!> to <gasp!> take <gasp!> my <gasp!> waffle, <gasp!> Buffy! But <gasp!> I <gasp!> really <gasp!> wanted <gasp!> to <gasp!> eat <gasp!> that.”

Once Austin and I were able to stop laughing long enough to reassure Andrew that we would replace the waffle, everything returned to normal pretty quickly. But Buffy, who usually thinks Jordan is a more reliable source of food, has been standing a lot closer to Andrew at meals now.

Food can still be sort of fraught for my kids. It’s better now than it used to be. Usually it’s safe to mention food in front of Jordan these days. A couple of years ago, if you mentioned food outside of mealtime — “I think I’ll make spaghetti for supper today” or “What’s your favorite food?” — it was likely to trigger epic crying and screaming. The idea of food was just too much. Too powerful.

It still holds a certain power. Last week, I had a call from the psychologist at Andrew’s school. He had been late getting to class a couple of days in a row, because he was in the cafeteria eating breakfast.

A few times this year, Andrew has taken it upon himself to buy breakfast after I take him to school. His lunch money is on an account with the school, so if he buys two meals instead of one, we won’t notice until he runs out of money sooner than we expect.

The first time he started buying breakfast, it was a conversation.

“Are you hungry when you get to school? You have breakfast at home every morning, and you bring a snack to have in the morning.”

No, not hungry.

“Would you rather have breakfast at school instead of at home?”

No, he hates the idea of waiting until he’s at school to eat.

“Ok, so then you’ll eat breakfast at home, and not at school. You really don’t need to buy breakfast at school.”

The second time he started eating breakfast at school, we had the same conversation. Not hungry, not willing to wait for breakfast. Great, then stop buying breakfast. We eat when we’re hungry. If you’re hungry, let me know, and we’ll get you more food.

The third time he started buying breakfast, he realized he could eat slowly, and then saunter into class fifteen minutes late. It’s hard to blame the teachers in the cafeteria for letting him be late. They assume, and I suspect it’s usually a good assumption, that kids who are buying breakfast probably need that breakfast.

So this time I spoke to the teachers in the cafeteria. They had suspected something was unusual — most kids buy breakfast more regularly than my son, and most of them don’t wait until their parents are out of sight to buy it. I had kind of hoped that it was something he’d be able to manage — Dad told me not to buy breakfast, so I won’t buy breakfast. — but it looks like he needs some adult assistance to stop himself.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a Bar Mitzvah for one of Austin’s cousins. We had a good time, and it’s always nice to see Austin’s extended family, who are fantastic. But despite warnings that it was almost time to leave, both kids were in tears as we went out the doors. Jordan was crying because … well, because there was a transition, and we always cry at transitions.

Andrew, though, was upset about two things:

  1. Austin and I were irresponsible parents, and we had let him eat too much, and now his tummy hurt.
  2. Austin and I also were mean parents, and would not let him have any more ice cream.

I tried to explain that those were really mutually exclusive things to be upset about, but you can imagine that kind of argument doesn’t have much weight.

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About Mark

I'm a stay-at-home dad with a husband and two young sons. When I'm not driving the kids to school or camp or swimming lessons or cleaning up bathroom accidents, I try to remember to update my blog.

Posted on January 29, 2013, in Life, Parenting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Bless your kids, they are wonderful!
    I suspect that the ‘mutually exclusive’ thing isn’t so mutually exclusive after all: I mean after all ice cream isn’t, you know, -food-, it’s… well, it’s ice cream! and no matter how much your tummy hurts from being too full, we all always want more ice cream.
    All joking aside: I hope the food as comfort and whatever else mechanism gets better over time or you’ll have to find lots of ways of making exercise something they will think desirable (because it’s time spent with you, lots of praise, you know, that sort of thing) just so they can work off the calories. Can’t be easy. I wish you all much luck, and an easing up of this kind of thing over time. All the best.

  2. I really enjoy reading your blogs…parents no matter how they became then all share the same problems…it’s just the most rewarding job ever (most of the time lol)

  3. Very happy to see a new post. Food is such a weird catalyst for so many people; reading this made me think about it for the entire evening. Thank you!

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