The Texture Of Things

Dandy Lions

April 29th, 2007

It was a good day in these parts. I think I’m an eensy bit sunburnt, though I did manage to get adequate sunscreen on the tot. Moreover, she had a lovely day. She almost combusted when her own hair got in her mouth, but she didn’t even notice all the dirt buildup on her hands, the dog hair clinging to her clothes, or the stickiness on the dandelion stems.*


I picked them for her – she’s not interested in picking her own yet – but she did enjoy watching a honey bee who was totally digging on this bountiful crop.

*Is it telling that I noticed this stuff? Hmmmmm, I wonder where she gets it…

Um, what’s going on around here?

April 26th, 2007

I’m screwing around with the theme a bit today. (Thanks, KLee, for your approval in the previous post’s comments!) This purple is a very soft look, isn’t it? I found some awesome themes that I keep considering, but I think this puffy look is good with me right now.

One thing I haven’t fixed yet (read: haven’t figured out how to fix yet) is the break that occurs in the purple background color when a post is too long. I’m not the only one having this problem, and I’ll deal with that when I can. Most likely I’ll just break long posts into 2 parts. Who knows. And how I’ll deal with that in the archived stuff is also uncertain. If I’m caffeinated, I might just tell you all to cope.

On other fronts…
I have the rest of the archived posts up, but anything earlier than January 7th is missing its comments. I’ll get those up some time this weekend, probably.

Archives! They’re Blog-tastic!

April 25th, 2007

I’ve got all of the archived posts up, except for the very first month of the blog (Sept 2006). Many comments are still missing, but they’ll be up in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, have a lovely day.


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!”)

Reader Poll: Tipping

April 23rd, 2007

So the roofers just left, but before they did, the crew leader came in and chatted me up for a while. It wasn’t overly strained conversation, but later I thought it was odd. Why all the chatting? Was he killing time, waiting for me to get it together and tip him already?

Looking toward the future, should I be prepared to tip the guy who removes the ice-storm tree?

Last, if one of my students is a pizza store manager who is bringing pizza to tonight’s class (we’re watching a movie) but will not take any money for the food, how do I figure his tip? I have an idea I’ll just get him a gift card to a bookstore or something, but sheesh.

No wait, one more. How does one figure the kickback tip for a nomination for a Thinking Blogger Award*?

*Mad props, KLee, but seriously. Now I have to start thinking about who to nominate, and thinking is hard. And stuff.

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.

a song in my heart, but not in my mouth

April 17th, 2007

or something like that.

It used to be that the tot required music at every waking moment, and sometimes the non-waking ones too. Where baby books suggest to parents to narrate every blessed moment of the day so that infants are immersed in real language with piles of vocabulary, I could not do it. When I am alone, I am silent.* With an infant in tow, I never felt I had a conversation partner, so talking felt contrived and arbitrary. Plus, I think I had some PPD, so I wasn’t really in the mood.

And then the silence broke me, or something, and I started to sing to the tot. I sang everything. I mean, when you don’t feel any of your own words inside you, it’s exhausting to think of what to say. Song lyrics are set. Even if you’re not feelin’ them, you can still sing ’em. (And anyone who’s had to sing a children’s song twice in a row or more knows I am not wrong here.) And because I felt guilty to not be talking all the time, I felt compelled to sing something.

HG and I joked early on that music soothed our savage beast because music was like a balm, the directions for which went something like this:
Apply song to fussy baby,
Keep singing,
Wait for it,
Waaaiitt foorrr iiiitttt,

Repeat as necessary.

So it’s no wonder that my daughter can recognize the theme song to Spiderman (all verses and bridge) and Powerpuff Girls and that she knows about a billion made up songs. I’m not exaggerating. We’ve been singing like mad here, for pete’s sake. Singing = status quo.

It wasn’t until last winter, between Thanksgiving and Christmas I think, that I realized music’s total domination in our life. I was driving her to day care, the stereo was on (tot music only, please, or else face her wrath), but I was not singing. I was tired. I was overworked. I had a sore throat. Whatever. Can’t a mama get a break?

Then, from the back seat I heard a small voice ask in the break between songs, “Mama, you okay?”

Immediately I was on the defense. “Of course, honey! Why would you…?” Oh. I’m not singing. She is processing the meaning of the silence the only way she knows how. Wow.

I started singing.

Fast forward to after the new year and you will find a different child, however. One who shouts “no, no, no. nonononono NO NO SINGING!” when HG or I begin to sing along to a song. Any song. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?**

All right. She’s 2.5 now, maybe it’s a control thing, no it’s totally a control thing, OMG what’s with the control thing?!

HG and I’ve been dealing with it the only ways we know how. He tells her, “No. I’ll sing if I want.” He then sings on. I say to her, “But child, I want to sing. Why can’t I sing?” To which she responds by contorting her face into some melty wax demon mask and shouting more loudly, “NO NO SINGING!” At this point, I mutter some obscenity under my breath and pout. I totally wanted to sing to that – wait, no I didn’t. Hey, this is the break I was asking for. OMG, amy, take it and shut up.

It is frustrating, though. I take the bait on it almost every time. Then I end up trying to rationalize what developmental need the silence is serving. Aside from making parents crazy.

I got an answer, a real one, at Easter.

My mom and I took the tot to Easter service, and I braced myself for the worst because that’s what you get when you take a child to Church once or twice a year. As such, I was ready when she started up during the opening hymn.

She said, “No Singing. NO NO NO!”

I wanted to say, “Oh my god, quit your bitching, we all have to sing this, it says so RIGHT THERE on the bulletin!” But I didn’t. Instead, I said, “Shhhh sweetheart. No shouting in Church. We use little voices.”

When she started to grab the pages, I lost my place in the song so my mom leaned over in front of the tot and pointed to where we were in her hymnal. It was at that moment I said the most important thing ever: “It’s okay. We don’t have to know the words to sing. We can just sing ‘la la la la’ when we don’t know.”

And with that, the tot stopped complaining. Not once since then has she commanded my silence during a song. And several times since then, HG and I have both heard her singing “la la la la” and other made up words to songs, even when she does know the words.

So here’s the part where I talk about what I’ve learned from all this, and I’d like to wax poetic over it, but my foot’s asleep and I have to pee, so here’s the short version:
*Why do I think everything is about control?
*I’m totally raising a perfectionist, and it’s not my solely fault (honey bear HG, I’m looking at you here)
*Although it looks like I could see a lesson in here that I should be going to Church more often, that’s just not true. I go just as often as I like. I can hardly wait to see what epiphany and child-rearing miracle happens at Christmas.

*The only notable exception is when I am driving. If I am driving with passengers, I will talk or be quiet. If I am alone, I sing at the top of my lungs every minute of the way. It keeps me awake, what can I say?


Reasons I Hate Dora the Explorer

April 9th, 2007

1. Dora is always screaming, even when she’s just talking. Sure, it’s great the tot is going to learn to count to eight in Spanish today, but only at 89 decibels.

2. Dora’s Map is always trying to kill them. Today, they need to get Roberto the Robot (Roberto? Really? Oh whatever) back to his Grandpa’s house. How does the Map tell them to go?

“Go over the bridge, pass the volcano, and then we’re at Grandpa’s house!”

I’m sorry, what? Map, did you just suggest to my child that she and her friends willingly pass along the foot of a volcano rather than, say, take another equally valid path just through some nearby brush?

Yesterday, the Map sent them through the Echo Bush, across the ocean, to the frog’s island. To get through the Echo Bush, they had to make it say “AAAAHHH!” so they could run through its mouth. Um, Map? Couldn’t they have just gone around it? It barely filled the path. I understand that they could, for once, question the Map’s direction, but c’mon. They’re children. They are looking to authority figures for guidance, and this is what the Map gives them?

Oh my god. I think I need more coffee.

Another April

April 7th, 2007

There is something about April. There is something about April that sucks. It sucks the energy out of me and eats the remnants every year, some worse than others. This April is a bad April.

I will try to not reveal many details about the how and why here. If I do, the blog is sure to be easily found, which I do not want at this time. What I will say is this: when I was a teenager, my older brother died in an accident far from home, late in the month of April. Now everything about April is wrong.

It’s funny how a big life event can make a calendar date stay with you. When I was a preteen, eager to break away from childhood, I asked my mother why it was so important that I spend my birthday with her. Couldn’t I just go with my friends to some thing or another and see her later? Geez, it seemed like my birthday was more important than hers. That’s because it is, she said. She explained that no matter what happens to her in her life, when my birthday comes around, she always remembers where she was and what she was doing on that day. It’s true, I’ve learned. We don’t remember our own birthdays, but we cannot forget our children’s, no matter what. The date is written indelibly on us.

It is in this way that April unfolds for me every year. I enter April tangibly aware of the passing of the days. Somewhere in my bones the dates are all written: this is the day he left for Virginia; this is the day I last spoke to him, the day he promised me that he would back from training in time for my birthday (in May) and that when Mom and I came down, he’d teach me “how to drive for real – forget what those Driver Sped teachers say”; this is the day I came home from school to hear about the accident and had to spend my evening dodging my extended family, who had crowded into our minuscule house; this is the day I went to school even though I had been told to stay home, where I was “needed”; this is the day the entire town gathered for the funeral; this is the day, this is the day, this is the day.

So I hate this month. I mean, I try not to, and in some years, April almost gets by me unnoticed. This was something I never in those early days of grieving believed could happen – that going on with my life could actually get easier. It does and it does not. It’s not like the pain doesn’t exist anymore; it’s just more predictable now. I usually know when it’s going to hurt, I know kind of how it feels, and I know that it will abate, that I will survive it. Again.

This year, I feel like the girl in Sandra Cisneros’ story “Eleven.”* This year I feel like a teenager again and I am bracing myself for April. Bracing myself because I feel like it’s happening all over again and I’m not quite sure I’ll actually survive it this time. Of course I will, I know. I just don’t feel like I will.

April is, for many people, solely about spring. Who can blame them for thinking that? I used to, but along the way I’ve come to realize that April is a different month for other people. It’s the month their children were born, it’s the month they got married or fell in love, it’s the month that finally gives them that desperately needed break from a long winter, or it’s simply Spring. It’s the month of Easter bunnies, fertility rituals, and rebirth.

I want April to be that month for me too, but I suspect it never will be. I am trying to find a way for it to be, but the only thing I’ve got is the consolation that there is no rebirth without death and at least I’ve got the death thing handled. So maybe, just maybe, on the other side of this is a rebirth waiting for me.

Please let there be. Please let’s just get to May now.

*The opening paragraphs read:
“What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are –underneath the year that makes you eleven.

“Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay. That’s what I tell Mama when she’s sad and needs to cry. Maybe she’s feeling three.”

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