Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Everyone who is ever around kids will at some point say with astonishment, "You are so BIG! When did that happen?!" As if its a surprise to anyone that small humans get bigger. In the defense of the general population it is astonishing at times. You may not notice your children have grown a little each day until you put their jeans on for the first time of the season. Then, by golly, they don't fit after sitting in a drawer for four months! Crazy right? Or the jeans you bought 3 weeks ago are suddenly too short. THOSE are the moments I'm talking about. Or how last year Raph skipped size 7. Yeah that was a real pisser. I updated his jeans twice last year and they still never really fit. Plus all his new shirts left his wrists exposed. Sometimes it reminded me of Chris Farley singing "Fat guy in a little coat"

Look at those teeth. Poor kid can barely eat he's losing them so quickly.

That's the thing, these damn kids never stop growing! And sometimes it happens all at once. You can see it coming because one week they will consume a third of their body weight in one meal. Repeat for at least 7 days and then they become really emotional, crabby and a joy to be around. Fall asleep sitting up, in the car and in the middle of the living room. Next thing you know your kid that wakes YOU every day has to be shaken awake so they don't miss the bus. Those are the signs of a new wardrobe on the horizon.

It can be remarkable to see kids' physical growth but the more subtle changes can be even more impressive. Raph, for example, has grown immensely over the summer. He's my timid and cautious one and borders on anxiety riddled at times. Early in the summer we found out that he was no longer allergic to milk or egg. This is HUGE and terrifying. He couldn't hide behind his allergies any longer. I think he generally had legitimate fears of foods. If you've been told your whole life that food can make you very very sick its understandable to be wary. He took it to the next next level though. He refused to try new foods. He would literally mutter to himself, sigh, whimper and wriggle around in his seat for an hour or more if you wanted him to taste one bite of mac'n'cheese. For real. He was so distraught and would cry and get so worked up over one little bite. Its fine when you are home and in a controlled environment but if you ever want to go somewhere else? Oy.

He was on a horse for the first time ever. LOVED it naturally.

After spending 2+ weeks in Texas I had had enough of this nonsense. I was tired of worrying if there was anything Raph would eat, or making special arrangements or whatever. Plus Colin, who idolizes his big brother, stopped "liking" foods he used to happily eat because Raph didn't want to try them. That shit was not going to fly.

We told Raph that on no uncertain terms, he would try a new food every day. Period. I could be something small like bread with butter on it. Or a ::gasp:: chicken taco. Or a piece of string cheese. Something. Every. Day. He was so crushed at the prospect and overcome with anxiety. It was difficult for the first 2 weeks. He began the process as he always did. Whining and furrowed brow and fast breathing and wringing of hands. There may have even been some gnashing of teeth in there too but I tried not to watch or speak much. Just ignore it and continue on with my meal.

We started to use analogies. You know that water park we went to? Yep. Well, you were nervous about going down the big slides because they were new and you weren't sure what they were going to be like. Then you went down them and it was SO MUCH FUN! You loved it and wanted to go again. Then it wasn't so scary and you tried a different slide, and another and another. Some were more fun than others and you didn't go down the ones you didn't like. It was exciting wasn't it? YEAH! Food is the same thing. There are so many surprising combinations and you just never know what they will be like and what you will like. Some you may love and others are ok. Every meal doesn't have to be your favorite food, but sometimes you eat things that are just so-so but its ok. Other things you won't like, but now you know.

You know what? After about 2 weeks he got over it. He would come up with things he wanted to try.Heidi helps me cook frequently. This is tilapia sprinkled with paprika
and all three of my kids ask for more. My how things have changed.

Once he was on board we would talk about food differently. You like bread, you like cinnamon and sugar so how about we try toast with butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar? Yum! We made homemade pasta sauce from tomatoes in the garden. Raph said he liked bread so maybe he could dip a piece of bread in his sauce. He loved it. He knew he liked sauce and he knew he liked pasta so he put sauce on his pasta! Then we had a baked pasta dish. He knew he liked saucy pasta so how about saucy pasta with cheese and meat? Not his favorite but he did eat some of it and liked it well enough. Oh and he discovered the wonder that is garlic bread!

Yesterday he tried an appetizer I made. It was a crostini with feta and lemon and topped with cucumbers and sea salt and pepper. That was a little much and he thought the feta was too sour (fair enough) but proceeded to eat about a half of a cucumber topped with sea salt. He was so confident and self assured fixing his own cucumbers. We had a dinner guest and Raph said, "Oh yeah, I'm just making some cucumbers with SEA salt." My little chef in action.

We still have nights where he isn't thrilled about our dinner options and starts to complain about how many bites and all those annoying things kids do when they don't want to eat. Generally, though, he will willingly try something without fuss. He gives food an honest try before he decides if doesn't like it. If he doesn't love it he will continue and eat it anyway because that's what we are having. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Finally we are on the road to normalcy. And if only Heidi wasn't so limited we could go to restaurants more often. They are all old enough to sit in a booth and wait for food without to much issue and it would be nice to do that every so often.

I don't know if his new found confidence with food has spilled over to other areas but Raph is gaining in all areas. He now has ridden a horse, fed a horse, pet numerous dogs and even LIKES dogs. Raph has always been terrified of dogs. He's allergic to them (even now after a few years of allergy shots) so we just stay away from them. But, other people have dogs. Lots of people in fact. You'd think they were man's best friend or something. Anyway, a screaming man-child of a boy who tries to climb on top of a car if a dog comes anywhere near him is a little much. In the last month he's been forced into situations where there have been dogs. Nice dogs, no barking or jumping, just tail wagging dogs. Repeated exposure, not unlike the daily food tasting, has made the world of difference. Know how I know? He loves a mastiff. Yes, a mastiff. Have you seen those suckers? I think they are more horse than dog. We left the party with the mastiff and Raph wanted to say bye to him one last time because he wasn't sure how long it would be before he could pet him again. Wait, whaaa?

Heidi seems to be a dog lover on the other hand. She was an infant sitting up and getting balled over by a group of lab puppies and laughing her little butt off while her older brothers were screaming and climbing the backs of couches. They were PUPPIES. Like, hold in one hand puppies just old enough to be adopted out puppies. Terror or joy for my kids. Heidi loved the "BIG doggy" this weekend too of course but also another smaller breed. She had the death grip on this poor dog and told everyone, "Mine doggy." Then later on she got to hold a puppy and she had a look of sheer joy on her face and she squealed, "I GOT A PUPPY!!!" She's a very different temperament than Raph so it doesn't surprise me that a dog 5x bigger than her is her favorite thing.

He ate cheese pizza at a ballpark, and tried nachos. Willingly.

After all this repeated exposure to new and different and scary things I have a 7 yr old who talks about the day when he's not allergic and can have his own dog and is always looking for the next thing to taste.

That is the kind of growth that takes your breath away.

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