The Texture Of Things

Advances in Food Texture: Cereal Straws

July 11th, 2007

Um, I’m not really sure what the hell these things are, but the tot will eat them now, so that’s something.

cerealstraws.jpg

HOORAY!
HOO-fricking-RAY! I think.

Yes, they really work as straws. They’re kind of short, though, so you don’t want to start munching on them until you’re done using it to drink your milk*. If you do, it’ll be too short, you’ll be out of a straw, and the purpose (assuming it’s actually drinking the milk and not acting-like-you-want-milk-so-you-can-eat-the-straw) would be utterly defeated.

*Milk not included.

The tot does not use them to drink milk yet, and that doesn’t seem close on the horizon. (That’s fine. She can use a regular straw.) However, she will blow through them and look through them, and that kind of food play counts in the success/progression column.

As for texture/food group, I guess they are, well, I think they’re, I don’t know – mixed texture, for sure. They have a strong Frooot Looop smell, but they all have the same blended Frooot-Looop flavor. The straw is made up of flaky Frooot-Looop-flavored cereal stuff. It is lined with some kind of pressed powdered sugar that keeps the straw from getting soggy in your milk. When you bite into one, you get the immediate sensation of “hard food,” followed by “flaky bits breaking,” followed by “crunchy bits mixing with softer stuff inside.”

It’s a strange food.

It took her seeing and playing with an entire box’s worth plus two before the tot asked me if she could have the one I was eating. When she hit that last texture sensation, I could see the distress rising in her eyes, so I said, “Crunchy! Crunchy! You have to crunch it!” She resumed chewing and has been fine with them ever since.

Probably if you are not an all-things-Frooot-Looop-addict, you don’t need to buy them. If you are on the fence about them at all, don’t be talked into getting them. They aren’t that great and as far as junk food goes, there are so many better ones out there.

Single Variable

May 3rd, 2007

I am writing this post as a way to kind of understand and process* the philosophy guiding our Food Friend’s approach to expanding the food repertoire of our profoundly picky eater. First, an important tenet in the approach is the following:

There are no bad foods, only bad choices.

Are potato chips a bad food? Not implicitly. If you’re eating a moderate amount of them and as long as the rest of your day’s food is varied and healthy, that’s okay. But if you have, for instance, a heart condition and if the chips are loaded with saturated fat, then it might be a bad choice to eat four large bags of them in a sitting and nothing else.

So, my parental guilt is eased. Cheezits are not a bad food; eating only Cheezits is not a good choice.

Because we are trying to help the tot expand her diet, we don’t ever want to stop providing her a food she will eat. We might limit it, but we must keep providing it, especially if it offers a unique or daring sensory experience, like the god-awful frosted cookies. Each and every food has the potential to become a bridge to a new food.

A bridge food is a food the tot will eat right now. We take a bridge food and find another food, a target food, that has as few differences from the bridge food as possible. If at all possible, we keep it to one variable. For instance, one of the bridges that has mostly worked goes like this:

She liked Snyder’s square pretzels.
I offered her pretzel twists – same size, but traditional pretzel shape.
I offered her pretzel sticks, the short dipping style – slightly larger, still pretzel though.
I offered her pretzel rods – larger, but same shape.

When I offer her a food, I am supposed to present it to her in varied ways – on a plate, in a cup, in a bowl, in a baggie, etc. This way she doesn’t get too attached to a presentation style. But presentation style is, in our house, a variable, so if I’ve been giving her pretzel squares in a sandwich baggie for the last two days, I need to give her the twists in a baggie the first time as well.

Get it down to a single variable and work up from there.

Much of the common thinking these days encourages parents to offer a food as many as 10+ times before expecting a child to accept it, but the tot is outside this norm. So when I say “I offered her pretzel rods…,” please note that it took us almost to the end of that large bag before she’d accept that they are, in fact, pretzels and she can eat them. And it wasn’t like she didn’t like pretzels before that.

In her defense, pretzel rods present unique problems to a pretzel eater. They splinter, they are tougher, and they make more crumbs, so they are more adventurous for the tot than even the pretzel sticks. When a food requires more courage on her part, I have to be diligent to keep it in rotation so she doesn’t back away from it, which has happened with certain foods. In those cases, I’ve had to completely reintroduce the food like it’s new, starting even by talking it up in the grocery store again.

Where this is taking us right now is toward our target food: bread.

From pretzel rods, we are trying crunchy bread sticks. They are the same shape and about the same size as pretzel rods. I got the kind with sesame seeds because they look more like pretzel rods. So far she has mildly rejected them, meaning she picked it up eventually but she declined to put one on, in, or near her mouth. (This is actually a small victory. More commonly a new food is met with outrage or panic.)

If we can get her to eat crunchy bread sticks, then we’ll hopefully move to progressively less crunchy bread sticks until we’re at, I don’t know, crusty bread I guess. I can’t even think that far ahead, honestly, maybe because in my heart I don’t actually believe she’ll ever eat bread.

In theory, if a kid gets to a less cautious point, a bridge food could have only a single variable in common with the target food. For instance, square waffles to square bread, pink pudding to pink yogurt, square cheese crackers to square slices of cheese, or circles of cheese to banana circles. The belief is that if we reduce the number of variables, then we reduce the number of ways a child can get herself worried about a new food.

How far this will take us remains to be seen.

*If I said “digest,” would that be too much pun?

A Complaint You Will Never Hear Me Make

April 24th, 2007

tot comes around the corner clawing at her mouth and saying “bluh bluh bluh,” which is what she does when she is unhappy about whatever’s in her mouth.

it must have been the popcorn i gave her.

i am tired of doing what our food friend/therapist wants us to do, which is to mirror the tot’s reaction with full emotion*, so i lightly mocked her. a song was on the stereo and i started singing along with it using “bluh bluh bluh.”

cue outrage and fake crying.

i apathetically offered, “oh, that ‘bluh bluh bluh’ wasn’t singing? that was ‘bluh bluh bluh’ because something’s in your mouth? what was in your mouth?”

more fake crying and then, “it was food! it was food in my mouth in there!”

yes, it must have been horrible.

*this is supposed to validate her and give us a chance to narrate what’s going on, which does two things: 1) brings her attention away from sensation and toward words, thereby bringing her brain out of reptile-brain/panic land and into higher order thinking, and 2) gives us a way to instruct her on what to do, such as “yuck! that was yucky! but you ate it and now it’s gone and you’re okay!” (or, “calm the eff down already!”)

Language Barriers, part two

April 22nd, 2007

Continued from before…

It wasn’t until her 2-year well-child check up that the doctor agreed that maybe she was out of the ordinary and that we could use some help, seeing as how little to nothing had changed. (Oh really, doc? Gee thanks.) So he gave me the name of a doctor at the nearby university he’d like me to see. I was so relieved that I left there and just about cried in the van on the way home.

When I got home, though, I faced a problem. Combine my absolute dread of making any phone call, ever, with needing to make this appointment and with not knowing what kind of appointment to ask for. What you will get is a shiny case of anxiety. So I did the only thing I could think of, and no, it wasn’t calling the university doctor’s office. Instead, I called my ped’s office and asked the nurse to look in the tot’s chart and tell me what the doctor had written because I lacked the language to make this other appointment.

The nurse, a lovely woman, complied. She told me it read, “Referred to Dr. ___ for evaluation for texture intolerance.”

And that is what I called the university doctor’s office and asked for. And do you know what? The receptionist had no f*cking clue what I was talking about. I had to rehash the entire conversation I had with the ped so she could figure out how to code the appointment and how to tell me to prepare for it.****

In the end, I canceled that appointment and sought help through my county’s early intervention program, but before I did, I sure as hell googled that term and any other I could dream up. I found a whole lot of nothing, which leads me to this post. I had a goal from day one with this blog that I would put up a post with words and phrases that I used or would have used to find information, with the hope that it might help someone else along the way.

So, here’s some more language. I’ll probably have to amend it periodically. Maybe I’ll do it here or maybe I’ll put up new posts. That much is uncertain as yet.

texture intolerance
texture sensitivity
texture food toddler baby
texture toddler intervene intervention
tactile sensitivity
tactile sensory aversion
tactile hypersensitive hypersensitivity
taste aversion
taste intolerance
mixed texture food
sensory integration
anxiety at trying new food

****BTW, the language I needed that day was (probably) “I want to have my daughter evaluated for hypersensitivity to tactile sensations, particularly her issues with food and taste.”

Language Barriers, part one

April 22nd, 2007

When I decided to start this blog, I did it because I had failed at finding any information on ye olde internet that was helping me help the tot with her texture issues. I can google* with the best of them, yet I couldn’t figure out 1) what was wrong, if anything or 2) where to go to get help or at least a fair evaluation of our situation. Mostly, this was a problem of language**.

So, language. Hey! I speak language! Here’s some now! But first! Some background! (And exclamation points!)

When the tot was 4.5 months old, she showed all the textbook signs of readiness to start solid foods. She mouthed along with adults who were eating, her tongue reflexes were relaxing, she wanted to see what we were eating, etc. I asked the ped if I could show her some cereal. He said, “No. Since she’s a preemie, we’d like you to wait until she’s at least 6 months old.”

Tired-Amy was bummed, but waited. Hey, guess what happened? By the time the tot hit 6 months old, she was no longer interested. We missed her window of greatest interest.

When the tot was 9 months old, she wasn’t much into food or putting much of anything into her mouth. She was still on pretty thin cereal and level one baby foods. Then we started the roller coaster of severe anemia. This roller coaster included punishing twists called “iron supplement twice a day.” Yay. Also? The greatest way to wreck any food for your child is adding iron supplement to it. I’m convinced the tot will never eat apple sauce again.

When the tot was 12 months old, the pediatrician literally waved me off with his hand when I told him I was concerned that the tot was really resistant to thick foods, mixed texture foods, strong tastes. Not just resistant but panicky in some cases. I mean, hey. I didn’t think a kid was supposed to projectile vomit when taking cold medication or, say, getting a chunk in the pureed peas or when trying a meat flavored baby food. (Oh god, just the thought of Gerber chicken dinner… It was like she wanted to try it, but her only available reaction ever was to vomit. Not just gag – vomit up every last scrap of anything anywhere in her body***. It was messy. I own a lot of dishtowels now.)

Ditto the 15-month well-baby check up and the 18-month well-baby check up. At 18 months, she was still on absolutely smooth purees, no real table foods, no meat of any kind, no chunks in her yogurt, etc. Also, she wouldn’t feed herself. I was still spoonfeeding her. The difference was that at these visits I really tried to make my case for getting some advice or help. They offered nothing but an assurance that I was investing too much in it and that she was a normal toddler. I even told them about how she didn’t like to touch anything, how she freaked out over spills, how she didn’t like to be outside, how she never wanted anything wet on any part of her. (Hence no self-feeding – too messy.)

To Be Continued…

*I know I’m alone here, but I hate that it’s become a verb. Thanks for letting me vent.

**In a nutshell, I think we’re a culture of over-informed people. When we take that information to the ped’s office, we get patted and patronized and sent home because probably our kid is exactly normal. They are tired of it and overwhelmed with it, so when we show up with an actual problem, we are escorted out the door purely out of habit.

***Who can blame her, I guess. It did smell like cat food.

Playing Catch Up – Updated

January 7th, 2007

The tot hit an important milestone today. She has begun dumping things out. This morning at the restaurant, she dumped her bag of Cheerios (known 90% of the time as Ohs). She played with them and ate some. She explored the physics of the Ohs by putting her hand on the whole pile, moving bunches around, sliding them on the table.

Then, at lunch, she not only ate several of these waxy-frosted, beady-ball sprinkled cookies when she never ever, never ever would even touch them before,

frosted cookies

but she also asked for and dumped out her cheesy crackers and played in the crumbs.

cheesy cracker crumbs

Now that I think about it, on Thursday she crumbled a graham cracker and left the crumbs on her snack table.

What’s noteworthy about this development, besides the fact that a 2.5 year old is just now acquiring a 7 month old’s inquisitiveness, is that her anxiety during the sessions is absent. She is not troubled at all by the potential mess, which is about 1,000 miles from where we began.

It’s messy, to be sure, but it’s necessary. This kind of play falls into the category of “the physics of food.” Essentially, it is playing with a food in your hands in order to learn about how it will be in your mouth. When you bang a raw carrot on the table, you learn that it will be hard and require a hard bite and a big chew. It will not be mushy and it will not be brittle. When you plop your hand into your bowl of applesauce, you learn that it will feel a bit gritty and very wet, possibly cool and easy to move around in your mouth.

Younger tots come into learning about the physics of food more inconspicuously because they are naturally inquisitive and they gradually seek out interactions with the foods around them. The tot did not because 1) I didn’t give her enough opportunities to be messy and handle many of the foods I was feeding her, which only served to complicate things like the fact that 2) the tot did not want to handle anything other than her dry spoons. Spilled foods, on her or on any surface other than “the right one” (i.e., the bowl or plate), were deeply traumatizing. They were crises. The saying “Don’t cry over spilt milk” was probably invented for kids like my daughter.

But in the last couple of days, she’s making huge strides. She ate a ton of food today*, including foods she’s never eaten before: the nasty frosted cookies, M&Ms**, and some rather wet baby carrots (a food she has licked before, but tonight she gnawed on them). It’s improvement, and I’ll take it.

*I’m not typically worried about the amount of food she eats, as long as she’s not acting hungry. If she’s acting hungry yet struggling with food, there’s a problem. This scenario is improving, however, as she learns to recognize her own hunger cues and ask for food or drink – big self-help behaviors that have eluded her all this time. Today, I don’t think she quit asking for food once. The next two days it will be critical I remember the diaper bag everywhere we go because, um, seriously. There’s gonna be a blow-out, probably at Kohl’s.

**There is an interesting little story here, I think, that I’d like recorded here. Thank you, HG, for posting it in the comments. Smooch!

Advances in Texture Tolerance

January 4th, 2007

Today, the tot took up the three apple slices from a lunchtime bowl and played with them. At first, she seemed unsure of what to do with these cool, damp things in her mitts. She began pushing them slowly around like race cars and then she started making voices for them that eventually led her to play “Daddy, Mommy, Baby.”

She does that a lot – play Daddy, Mommy, Baby, I mean. Touching food, not so much. Usually I engage with her in the play by acknowledging the toys, like her consecutively-sized rubber ducks, by the family names and actively seeking out conversations with them in their roles. For instance, “Baby Duck, do you like to swim?” Not today, though. Our Food Friend often personifies whatever thing we’re playing with at the moment (today, bendy straws), but it felt weird to me to talk to apples that way. So, when the tot would hold up a slice and use a falsetto voice to ask me “Uh, Mommy? Who am I?” I tended to reply with, “You are a teeny tiny [or other descriptor] apple slice.” What I noticed is that it didn’t stop her from role playing with the slices. She still drove them around on the table and lent them voices.

What is remarkable is her sustained, voluntary physical contact with the wet food. When we started solids, she was interested in the bowls and spoons, but she was distressed if there was a lot of pureed food in the bowl. If it spilled, she would freeze up and look to me for a solution, and I fed this reaction by quickly wiping it away rather than soothing her emotions while letting her body experience the sensation of spilled food. When it came to solids, I was so terrified of choking hazards that I’m sure my demeanor conveyed distress and worry rather than the sentiment I should have communicated: food is fun, food is yummy, food is an adventure, eating together is a learning place, eating together is a joyful thing.

Still, it was not all me. I look back to pictures I took of the tot a couple of weeks after her first birthday, when I was putting together thank you cards, and I am reminded of her early reaction to peeled apple. I gave her one to play with while I used her foot to stamp footprints on the thank you cards. (I chose footprints because I knew there was no way she’d let me do handprints, if for no other reason than she was 1.)

tot_apple2.BMP

She did not like to hold the apple, she did not want to pick it up, she wanted it somewhere else. I do recall that she was so wrapped up in what I was doing that she was not stressed out about the apple on her tray, but if she had to move it out of the way, she would use her fingernails and the back of her fingers. The foot thing, well, it worked and she only squirmed for the first dozen or so cards.

footprint.JPG

Lately, I feel as though the majority of her actions are her attempt to call my bluff, to get a kind of attention that ultimately only perpetuates anxiety behaviors. The apple family this morning was born because I didn’t react one way or the other about her picking up the apples and running them along the table – not even a positive reaction. Just a matter of fact, “Oh, you found the apples.” When that’s all she got, she explored further. She played the way she needed to a long, long time ago.

A Letter of Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2006

S., our Food Friend, works in a sub-group of our county’s family services office. Every month there is a support group for the parents of these “fussy babies.” Because it is the holiday season, the November and December meetings are combined and this meeting’s theme is thanksgiving. The “homework” was to write a letter to my child, a letter of thanksgiving, to be saved for her to open at some later date. Because I can’t seem to get all my paper grading, house cleaning, sick-baby tending (is it asthma? is it a cold? is it teething? who can say?), blog updating, and letter writing done this week, I am combining my letter writing and blog updating tasks.

Here is the draft of the letter I will have to read out loud on Friday this week:

Dear tot,

I could start this letter of thanksgiving with a bullet list, but I am trying to resist it. It’s hard to resist because there are a million things I want to thank you for. Thank you for coming along so easily, thank you for all your tumbly gymnastics in my belly starting exactly at 7:40 every night, and thank you for cooperating with chance by lying on your umbilical cord at just the right moment so the doctor could see the trouble you were in at our check up and get you out of my belly before tragedy happened. Thank you for surviving and thank god you never were in serious danger, not even once you were out.

But that is a bullet list, almost, and I didn’t want to write one. I want to write about the things you have brought to my life that has made it, in a word, awesome. Okay, yeah, sure, we use this word all the time, you use this word all the time, and it does mean “something great,” but it is much more than that.

When I was in college, I spent a summer working as an advisor in a Japanese Student Exchange program. For five weeks, I lived on campus with Japanese students, worked with them on their school projects, entertained them, and helped teach them about Americans. I don’t know how much of it I actually accomplished with any value, but I still vividly remember driving along the roads of west Michigan. I’m not sure where it happened, but my eyes opened to my own surroundings. I began to see familiar things from an outsider’s perspective. I saw trees and electrical lines and traffic signs and seat belts and storefronts and houses and fences and cattle and land and plants and sky, but mostly I saw how I had never really seen these things before. At the time I marveled in it, but I never imagined I would repeat it, and then you came along and this heady experience is a daily one now.

How does the world look to you? I don’t know. I can’t begin to imagine, but it must be big. There must be a lot of it because when we do something we’ve never done or haven’t done in a while, I watch the wheels turn in your mind, sorting, measuring, guessing, imagining, and deciding what to be curious about first. Sometimes you look to me, not as much now as before, but when you do, you already know what your first move will be. Would it be my first move as well? You are excited to discover “oh, how it works” or “what is it, oh, I know.”

But that is not specific enough. This letter needs to be more specific if it is going to mean much a decade or more from now.

Okay, how about this. Thank you for all of the singing. You are a child who loves music, so we sing. A lot. And you sing a lot too, sometimes mimicking my musical narration. “I am making a sandwich, I am getting the jelly, it is gonna be yummy, yummy in my tummy.” And when you join in, sometimes even hitting harmonies, I can hear your dad’s heart singing along from across the room.

Here’s another jewel: This past Saturday morning, you stunned your dad and me by repeating something I had said and using it in perfect context. Fortunately, it was not a swear word. (That was the week before last.) No, this morning your dad refused to leave on errands until I added up the ATM deposit for him. It was only two checks, so why he couldn’t do it at the machine, I have no idea, so I said, “You, mister, are ON MY LIST.” He replied, “Yay! I’m on Mommy’s list!” Without looking up, I said, “It is not a ‘Yay’ list.”

My love, we haven’t used language like “on my list” much since before you were born, and I’ve never said “not a ‘Yay’ list” before in my life, so you can imagine my delight at what followed that dialogue. Ten minutes later your dad asked you if you wanted to be on Mommy’s list, and you looked him in the face and very seriously replied, “It is not a ‘Yay’.” Oh, you totally made my day.

Tot, every single day is like this. Okay, maybe not every single one, but very close to it. You talk, you learn, you do, you don’t, you grow every single day. And it amazes me. It amazes me that in spite of every choice I make in a day, good or poor, you improve. Lately, it’s been your body awareness and coordination and self-esteem I see blossoming and it’s all you, baby. Sunday, you tumbled off your trike in the driveway and only hesitated long enough for me to say “Wow, you sure were going fast” before getting back on and bulleting off. When I read the note the babysitter sent home in your bag last week, asking me if you insist on sitting on top of the coffee table at home too, I laughed at first. Then I wondered if I had the wrong bag. Then I realized that I had the right bag; it was my child that was changing. Wow. You’re doing it, tot. You’re instigating and innovating and insisting. You have power and you are taking it, and it is awesome.

Of course I will miss my littlest girl the way I often miss my baby girl, but I love all my girls, all my tots. It is a cliche Mom thing to say, but I have to say it: I can’t say that I knew how to love any thing or any one before you, and this is the greatest lesson you’ve given me, the one I am most thankful for. Thank you for teaching me what a mother’s love can be. Thank you for throwing your whole body into mine when you hug me and for gently patting my shoulder to tell me to pat your back while I hug you. Thank you for squealing and running to greet me or your dad when we come home from work and thank you for shoehorning yourself into every hug your dad and I ever have in your sight, saying with us, “Everyone gets a hug.” Thank you for showing me without words what a child’s love looks like.

Every person’s life should have at least one love story. Thank you, tot, for being my best one.

WFMW: Sidewalk Chalk Numbers

November 1st, 2006

wfmwheader_copy3_2.jpg

The sidewalk in front of my house is made up of thirteen concrete squares. How do I know this? Why, I’ve numbered them, that’s how.

Indeed, I’ve gone through a lot of sidewalk chalk keeping those little buggers numbered all summer and fall this year, but there have been several payoffs. Here’s what works for me about this:

First, the tot is fascinated by numbers and letters and makes me draw them for her repeatedly until I think my head will burst. (She’s two. Whaddya gonna do?) Her goal is to step on each number and say its name, so when I draw them on the sidewalk, she’ll burn about a million calories walking up and down the numbers endlessly.

Second, she gets a lot of numbers practice going up and down the sidewalk, both counting forward and backward. Its fortunate that I’ve got thirteen squares, actually, because she needs more practice with thirteen. Without the visual prompt, she’ll count to twelve and then say, “sixteen, sixteen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.” She’s doing really well with counting backwards from ten now, too, and can do it spontaneously.

Third, frankly she loves it when we draw with sidewalk chalk, but really. My creativity gets tapped. How many caterpillars, balloons, smilies, bunnies, and shapes can I draw before both of us get bored with them? Then, I can always refresh the sidewalk numbers and off she’ll go, giving me a minute to stand up and give my back a break.

Fourth, it keeps her on a part of the sidewalk and driveway away from the street, which I’m terrified she’ll run into since she doesn’t stop on command.

Last, it buys me a break. This is no exaggeration: she is capable of spending over 45 minutes traipsing up and down the sidewalk, but only if there are numbers on the squares. (Occasionally she’ll allow letters.) I can lazily follow her, snap photos, pull a weed or two, chat with our neighbor, or contemplate just about anything while she plods away. She is happy to do it with me or by herself (with me in view), and that makes the effort of drawing the numbers worth it.

But wait! That’s not all!

You don’t have to be an artist. I have drawn plain numbers and outline numbers. I have drawn big ones and small ones. I have added the spelled out numbers below them. I have had to scratch out mistakes and color in goof ups. What seems to matter to the tot most is that they are always there or are easy to put there again and that we do it together.

Also!
Sidewalk chalk is a healthy part of your complete sensory diet:
*The dusty texture is unique. It is not a typical solid and it is not soft, though it leaves residue on your hands.
*Drawing with chalk teaches cause and effect. Draw all you want on the pavement, sure, but when you run out of room and crawl across your drawing to open pavement, you smear the existing drawing and get smudges on your clothing.
*Drawing on different surfaces yields distinct sensations in your hand. Grooved concrete like my sidewalk makes the chalk vibrate differently in my hand than when it glides across the relatively smooth asphalt of my driveway.

Certainly, this activity is based on having a regular space to draw safely, so what ways could it be adapted to other situations? Anyone?

(Hop on over to Rocks in my Dryer for about a billion more great ideas!)

Oh, For the Love of Gelatin Products that Jiggle

October 31st, 2006

Sometimes, a child will surprise a mother. Today was that day for me.

Today, S. and I had planned on doing two things: playing with Jigglers and finger painting with pudding. Jigglers were a new thing, and this would be our second attempt at pudding painting.

Below is a picture of our first attempt at pudding painting:

sprinkles.JPG

What? What’s the matter? Think I uploaded the wrong picture? Think again. See the creamy blob on the far edge of her plate? That’s the pudding. Uh-huh. That’s as close to pudding as she would get a month ago. “Sprinklers,” as she called them, were welcome everywhere. (Note to self: they are a bitch to clean up, but they didn’t stain her jammies.)

Now, normally, S. and I plan a “dangerous” activity and a “safe” one, the latter to help bring down any stress that the first caused, and I had my doubts about today. Jigglers? Puh-leeze. This kid won’t touch bread because it’s too wet. And our pudding goal was supposed to be to face-paint kitty noses for Halloween. I saw nowhere for the anxiety to go but up for this session. Thankfully, I was wrong.

There was no anxiety because we never even got to the face-pudding-painting. The tot made quick work of the Jigglers, stacking, dropping, ker-plopping, and (dear god, will I jinx myself?) licking them. LICKING them. She cut with cookie cutters and tore them with her fingers. She wiped them on her shirt and pants and smooshed one on her foot. I was so deeply in shock that I did not think to get a camera to take pictures.

For most other mothers, this sounds like an average two year-old’s lunch, but I swear, I cannot think of a mess that I am happier to clean up than one like this. Truly. Now I can’t wait to see what happens next week with the pudding.

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