I just put my daughter to bed. Her cheeks were filled with lasagna. And her epilepsy medication. It gets even better. She had eaten that lasagna almost 2 hours ago. I think I smelled vomit, but it was just her and the lasagna...digesting in her mouth. I couldn't bear to kiss her cheek so I did something I would never picture myself doing. I blew her a kiss and waved goodnight...from a pretty good distance.
What is this madness?
This is Ella four years after leaving a Ukrainian orphanage. Still dealing with 'food issues'. When we brought that cute two year old home we never expected to hear the doctor tell us that she was "failing to thrive" after three months with us. I expected more obvious behaviors--hoarding, rocking, night terrors, but got none of those. I suppose we should have been happy that our daughter wasn't struggling with other things. Instead, she was voluntarily starving herself to have control over some facet of her seemingly out of control life. We pleaded, coerced, and tried to force her to eat. We tried all kinds of foods to no avail. We couldn't tempt her with anything. I finally started feeding her half and half mixed with pediasure powder. She drank constantly and this was one way to give her some calories.
I don't remember when Ella started eating, but it happened. It's never been quite 'right' though. I always thought that at some point everything would just click for our daughter. One day, she would wake up and shake off the orphanage dust. Sadly, the survival skills that she learned as a toddler have stuck. As time passes, the behaviors don't rear their heads too often--nothing like those first few months at home. But every once in a while, subliminally, Ella reverts back. And watch out, because life is about to get pretty ugly.
Last week, Ella wouldn't eat her lunch. It was the usual fare, stuff she always eats. I put it away and told her she could have it for dinner. Then, I sent her to her room for a while. That seemed to be what she needed and she happily ate her dinner. A few days later the same thing happened. But, all was still well...until Sunday. She decided to pull out the big guns, by refusing lunch and dinner. Then this morning, she didn't eat breakfast. She didn't eat lunch. She finally ate dinner (it was passable to us--three bites of lasanga). Our policy is to just ignore her. We let her know that if she doesn't eat, she can miss out on the fun thing we will be doing after the meal. Very nonchantly and calm. Always calm, always cool, always scoring a point for the parents. Sometimes, Seth and I even meet for little sessions in the bathroom to figure out our next game plan. I'm serious.
Yeah, didn't work so well this time. Sunday, we figured out that we needed to turn up the heat a bit. I turned a MOVIE on after lunch yesterday and she still wouldn't eat. She lives for TV time. This was a serious anty upping on our part. She wouldn't budge. Seth popped popcorn. Still no dice. Fine, just sit on your bed and be hungry. It got a little more serious today when she started holding food in her mouth. She took one bite at breakfast and just refused to swallow. This may sound bizarre to you, but we've been seeing it around here for, oh, about four years. The I'll-take-a-bite-but-you-can't-make-me-swallow routine. She's obviously got some skills since she ate lasagna for dinner and managed to hold it in her mouth until bedtime. Seth thought that was a record breaker, but I can't wait to call him in the morning and let him know that she woke up with a mouthful of lasagna.
Why is she doing this? Great question, if you have the answer please contact me immediately. My first response is that she wants attention. She doesn't care what kind of attention she gets (we learned this early on), so even negative attention will do if she feels like she's missing out. My second guess is because we were gone at the hospital, life is out of control, yada, yada. That doesn't jive with her waiting two weeks before starting this nonsense. So, I'm thinking it's got to be attention. Which is why Seth and I have to pump ourselves up not to give her attention for this mess. And we chastise ourselves for not seeing sooner that maybe she was feeling left out. She gives us no warnings that she's about to burst. It would have been nice for her to pull me aside last week and say, "Mommy, I'm feeling a little weird about Sally being hurt. I want some special attention like she's getting."
Too bad I don't let her watch Dr. Phil or maybe that would have happened. Except I've never heard her string together that many words at one time. Sigh. Tomorrow is a new day. I have high aspirations for that bowl of cheerios.