The Things We Do

I don’t know how parents of kids with special needs or severe illnesses do it. For the last few weeks, I’ve been driving Glow Worm about 1.5 hours away to see a famous Chinese medicine doctor for his eczema. (Glow Worm kept breaking out no matter what I ate and was scratching his head so bloody that his sheets looked like the site of a massacre.) On top of that, I’ve taken him to Western doctors for steroid/cortisone creams and have so many unguents and creams and ointments, I should open my own store!

Obviously, Glow Worm doesn’t have anything seriously wrong with him. (Although, I would say the boils and pus-filled blisters, bloody scars, and general discomfort were getting to be very serious.) But all these appointments and trips to the special doctor take time and energy and money. Incidentally, I also have Cookie Monster and Gamera to take care of. Thank goodness Hapa Papa has a pretend job where he can watch the kids or take them out to fun places. Hapa Papa’s out on vacation next week in NYC so I am going to be juggling a lot of kids and doctor appointments. It should be interesting.

Now, Glow Worm is much better thanks to a combination of my diet changes (I call it my Extreme Love and Sadness Diet) and the steroid/cortisone ointments and creams. I feel as if I haven’t seen my older kids in weeks. Also, I’m exhausted. (Did I mention that I’ve been fighting off a pretty bad cold?) Hapa Papa is exhausted, too. We are all exhausted.

I am also incredibly hungry. The Chinese doctor said I can’t process proteins very well so I am passing all these unprocessed proteins to Glow Worm in my breastmilk and his poor system was so overwhelmed that he started to react to everything I ate. So, I got put on a cleanse of sorts and my diet is pretty restricted. I am also undergoing a lot of acupuncture, acupressure, and dietary therapy. I have to avoid dairy, gluten, fatty and/or fried foods, eggs, soy milk, seafood (fish is ok), and an assortment of other random things.

I am SO HUNGRY.

Hence, the Extreme Love and Sadness Diet. Extreme because, HOLY SHIT WTF CAN I ACTUALLY EAT? Love, because, I do this out of love. Sadness because, well, I also love food and these dietary restrictions make me full of The Sads. And now, I am full of The Hungers. But Glow Worm is much improved so I will keep this up. (Pretty much until he’s weaned. SIGH.) The only other plus side is that I’ve dropped a lot of weight in a very short period of time. So, you know, if you ever want to drop weight, all you have to do is STOP EATING EVERYTHING.

It is totally not worth it if it’s just for weight loss. I was pretty cranky the first few weeks.

Also, did I mention that I AM SO HUNGRY?!

Anyhow, this is all just a long, rambling post to say that I have so much respect for parents of children with actual, serious situations/illnesses/problems. I don’t know how they do it (other than they HAVE to so they DO). I don’t know how their other children do it. (Again, they HAVE to so they DO.)

All I know is that I kinda miss Cookie Monster and Gamera. But then they have insane nights like tonight (they were both exhausted but refusing to sleep and Gamera basically went ballistic) and I think, “I don’t really miss that. Have fun, Hapa Papa. I’m outta here.”

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“If I Eat All My Fries, Can I Have a Cookie?”

They say to never negotiate with terrorists. Real terrorists (of the hostage taking kind) are likely something that I will never experience in life except through the news and movies/TV. However, I never realized that in my house, I actually have two (soon to be three) terrorists of the home-grown kind. That’s right, people. I have been unwittingly aiding and abetting two extremely cute, but also, manipulative toddlers who are now, thanks to my inept parenting, master negotiators.

It all started innocently enough. “If you do X, then you’ll get Y” types of conversations would occur on an almost daily basis. Especially when it came to consequences of not cleaning up or obeying or whatever and the consequence would be a time out. Sometimes, Cookie Monster would say, “One more!” for things he wanted, but that was adorable and usually, I gave in because it was no big deal.

As my kids got more difficult with eating, I started to say, “If you eat your dinner, then you will get dessert. If you don’t eat dinner, then you won’t get dessert.” Perfectly reasonable expectations, right? (Also, in retrospect, I feel as if I should turn in my Chinese card because really, when I was growing up, if I didn’t finish my food, my parents would keep serving it up for all my meals until I finished it. My mother once found me asleep in the high chair with my mouth still full of food. On top of that, there was never any dessert.)

Then one day, “If I eat all my fries, can I have a cookie?” came out of Cookie Monster’s mouth.

By this time, I had been so inured to my children’s constant bargaining that I didn’t bat an eyelash. “Hmmm? What? Yes, Cookie Monster, you can have a cookie if you eat your fries,” I replied.

Hapa Papa, however, was aghast. “Did he just negotiate to eat cookies if he ate his healthy lunch of fries? Like, that’s his reward for eating FRIES?” he asked.

And just like that, I snapped out of it. First, we both couldn’t stop laughing because the situation was ludicrous. Second, I got sad because I was such a failure of a mother at mealtimes. (We often have fries for lunch on at least a bi-weekly basis. They get smoothies with the fries, though! That’s kinda healthy, yeah?) Third, we admired Cookie Monster’s negotiating abilities. That’s really all we have to look forward to – our children’s excellent killer instincts at gaining the upper hand.

Of course, even with copious bribery, mealtimes can often be a battle. A few weeks ago, I made dinner and although Gamera was a good girl and ate all her dinner for her promised ice cream (which she totally forgot about, but I still forced her to eat it because I want her to know I keep promises), Cookie Monster was NOT cooperative in any way, shape, or form.

The funny thing was, he was such a good boy all day. But by dinner time, I guess all the good behavior got used up. Blergh. Every time I shoved a mouthful of dinner into his mouth, he would gag. On purpose. For no reason other than to be a punk. It would take him over ten minutes to chew and swallow that one tiny mouthful. After an hour of forcing him to eat, him gagging on the regular, several time outs, he had one more bite before he got a fruit bar as dessert. And then, he proceed to barf up everything he just ate all over himself, the chair, and the floor.

He looked miserable. I honestly don’t think he realized that gagging would induce barfing. Well, I hope he knows it now. (Sometimes, he doesn’t really learn from experience.) And because he is a clean freak, he was super upset that his hands, his clothes, basically his entire body, was covered in vomit. We try not to yell or make our kids feel bad – even when they vomit on purpose because really, barfing in general is bad enough. Then to be yelled at for doing so just compounds the pain. So, we promptly stripped him and started to clean up. Of course, I had to break the news that if his tummy didn’t feel good and he barfed, then he clearly couldn’t eat his fruit bar. He cried. I felt bad, but not really. I mean, he barfed on purpose.

I’m still not sure if I did the right thing by forcing dinner down his throat. I could’ve just said, “Fine!” and let him not eat dinner and then be hungry. After all, the result was the same. 😦

Clearly, I have to re-think my meal time strategies. Blargh.