Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Right now I alternate between confusion and hyperventilation. All summer long, I was in this comfortable lull. E was mostly calm, mostly happy, and so to were the rest of us. We got into a routine of camp drop off, work, pick up, play outside, dinner, bed, very easily.
Both girls were excited for the start of school, but I was not. I resisted school shopping until the last minute. I didn't want my bliss to end. I knew what was coming - the start of school means higher anxiety, which turns into intense moods, and affects the whole family until I feel like we are in a dark tunnel searching for the other end. However, E surprised me. She entered 4th grade with excitement, loves her teacher, and her new after school caregiver. After 2 weeks, I started to relax a little.
Then the bomb dropped. Okay, that's dramatic. But it really was like a bomb from a kid who started off eating such a limited variety of food, that I sometimes worried she'd make it to 4th grade. She came home one day in the third week of school and announced, "I am making CHANGES!" I thought she would follow up with something like not going to school anymore, to which I'd have to speak to her about why she can't do that just yet. Nope. She said, "I am eating the school lunch from now on, no more lunch box for me!"
This is where I started to hyperventilate. I have always had tight control over what quality and quantity and type of food she ate. I have always taken the responsibility of no dairy, of limiting the wheat or the sugary items to one, of saying no to soda. In less than 30 seconds, she basically was taking that responsibility on, and I have to admit I was reeling. The immediately following discussion went something like this:
Me: Um, so cafeteria food is not as healthy as home food, and I know you like to eat mostly good healthy food.
E: They have a SALAD bar.
Me: Um, it costs me less money to send you with a lunch box (Caveat: this is not necessarily true, and yes I was fibbing, but I was that intent on her not eating at the cafeteria).
E: MOM, YOU ARE BLOWING MY CHANCES TO TRY NEW THINGS!
The conversation ended at that point, because I did a double take and shut the heck up. Trying new things for her is usually filled with anxiety and me encouraging her. Rarely is it self-initiated. I took a breather and we compromised that she could have cafeteria lunch a couple days a week if she made sure to not drink any milk, and to take at least 2 items from the salad bar. It is now three weeks later, and she excitedly comes home and tells me what she tried, including a report on which veggies or fruit she had.
The other semi-big change was that she got back on her bicycle. In 2012, we did a bike camp run by http://icanshine.org/ that teaches developmentally delayed or mentally challenged kids how to ride. Emily did fabulous during the camp, but got so nervous outside that environment that she didn't ride for over a year. Last week, she asked if we could go practice her cycling. I took them both to the school grounds, and she rode for an hour. She has done that almost everyday, and has begun to go faster and shout "WOOHOO".
I am still cringing/hyperventilating a little. But I am trying to let her go begin to find her way, without crying over the loss of something I can't quite explain. Oh yeah, she told me I'm going to need a bike too just to keep up.