… Daniel ate a grilled chicken breast with a full side of mixed vegetables and cornbread for dinner last night. Wow. For 16 years his dietary preferences have ruled the roost, dominating the agenda of our lives, 3 times a day, every day. And our attempts to share this pain with others were rebuffed with unsympathetic comebacks like,”Well, just let him starve until he eats what you want him to eat.” (I didn’t ask for your advice, I wanted to vent.) We tried this when he was 4, and he wouldn’t eat for 3 days. So we “caved” and abandoned that tactic. After that, we just said, “We’re not working on that right now,” but did we therefore forfeit the right to talk about how hard it was? Maybe so, I don’t know. I just know that 2 college graduates had to go to therapy to learn how to get him to eat a different flavor than strawberry yogurt when he was 10!
Each step was so microscopically incremental. It’s just been in the last year that he’s started to order (breaded) chicken sandwiches instead of nuggets, but grilled chicken is new territory. The huge thing about the cornbread was that he changed his mind about it. He looked at it, declared he didn’t like cornbread, then actually ate it, then exclaimed “This is just like cake!” He usually perseverates in his rigidity, so this flexibility was amazing.
One thing we have been doing differently in introducing new foods is to put something he really likes on the table in full view, with a simple ”first this, then that” directive (repeated calmly, without escalation, ad infinitum). Or rather, that approach has only started working with the onset of his teenage years. He’s hungry all the time, so that has worked in our favor.
Or just maybe our Prodigal God (read the book by Tim Keller!) lavished grace and mercy on 2 discouraged parents, reminding us once again that as Daniel ages chronologically, so does his delayed self. He’s growing up.