I need to start off with a rather exciting announcement. This past week, I found the third food item that my son refuses to eat. That’s right. There’s a third.
For the uninitiated, my boy Lucas is non-verbal and has autism. He also has a world-class appetite. You know all the autism stories about picky eaters? He’s not one of those stories. He eats it all.
Up until now, the only two foods he refused to eat were lettuce and hard pretzels. If you gave him either of these things, he would take it, lick it lightly with the tip of his tongue, and hand it back to you. It’s sort of adorable and mostly gross.
Roll the drums because we discovered that number three is… Red Lobster’s Lobster Pizza appetizer. Look, lick, return. Between you, me, and the fish sticks, I can’t say I blame him. Although the sight of his refusal was pretty shocking for us at the table. Big day. Mark it down.
This is notable because my son has put nearly everything in his mouth. If you have kids, you feel the pain. This isn’t just specific to autism parents. If you’ve ever dug through a toy box and found a Nerf Football with a bite taken out of it – you get it.
It’s the soggy corner of a decorative throw pillow, the edge of his iPad, or my cheek when I think he’s just going to give me a peck. My son has made it a point to give it the tip of the tongue test. It’s been a long-running thing. His chin has been known to be quite slippery.
I think back to when Lucas was about five and I took him to the local schoolyard with a box of sidewalk chalk. I was drawing on the asphalt as he went clapping by at top speed. He slowed him down and he came to sit beside me.
Chalk. Do you want to try? Look. Chalk.
The sidewalk chalk was comically large in his tiny hand. He didn’t break his stare from me as I wrapped his fingers around it.
I moved the chalk, clutched in his hand, around on the ground. It made little lines and circles. He looked at it and looked back at me with his sweet little face.
Yeah. You do it. You draw. Go for it.
I let go of his hand. He smiled huge.
And, in an instant, he shoved the entire piece of chalk into his mouth.
I freaked out and reached in to retrieve it before it fell down his throat. When I finally fished it out and saved his life… he had the nerve to be mad at me. I’m talking whines and mean looks. This kid kills me.
Like many children, he outgrew most of the “no mouth!” phase. He only puts items he believes to be edible in his mouth today. Yes. I believe you caught my meaning. The key phrase there is “he believes to be.”
From the dog-treat incident to discarded Starbucks cups, Lucas has always scoped the foodies like a big game hunter. Sometimes it’s disregarded snacks. Sometimes it’s someone else’s food. The only real limitation is the size of your pantry.
From sushi to Skittles, my kid loves it all. A few years ago, my daughter and I made each other “mystery” smoothies from food in the freezer and recorded ourselves drinking them. Some were horrendous. One tasted like the inside of a hat.
Lucas finished them all for us. Drank ’em down like water. Says a lot about that lobster pizza, huh?
He’s an iron gut titan with a discerning palate. Do you want to know his favorite treat? It’s not Pirate Booty. It’s not Cheese-Itz. It’s not even pizza.
It’s Baklava. The Greek Honey Pastry? Yes, the Greek Honey Pastry.
The ones he likes come individually wrapped and you can find them on the twisting checkout line at TJ Maxx. Whenever I buy it, I always give him the old, “You see how much I love you?” Who does school snack shopping at TJ Maxx? This kid owes me.
Of course, he has faked me out too. I finally gave away the microwavable Chicken Lasagna that he insisted I buy at Target. It’s one of the dangers of saying, “Go ahead. You pick.”
Honestly, it’s always adorable when I let him pick something out at the store. That day, he walked up and down the aisle, looking at the items before finally grabbing this frozen box of lasagna. It was a single serve size and fit into his hands. It had no picture, and I was 100% sure he didn’t know what it was. I tried to talk him out of it, but he got upset if I took it out of the cart. So, we bought it.
Once home, he proceeded to push it away anytime I put it in front of him as a dinner choice. To this day, I have no idea if he was punking me or not. Then again, that was the day he also made me buy these weird vegetable garden Ritz crackers that no one ate. I think he gets a sales commission from Target.
Whether your kid is on the spectrum or off, encourage what they love, allow them to make choices, and take notice of their favorite things. If they can tell you what they like, ask. If they can’t tell you, observe. Either way, kids are the same all over. They want to take a bite out of life. That Nerf ball proves it.
DIVORCED DAD ON “STAYING TOGETHER FOR THE KIDS”
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