Yesterday evening you could have scooped me off the floor with a plastic spoon and very little effort. (OK…a lot of effort…I am working on shedding the holiday pounds that I would LOVE to think I didn’t gain.) J, while helping with drying and putting away the contents of the dishwasher, ate TWO SPINACH LEAVES!
He did this without gagging.
He also did this without saying “FIBBY” which is his verbalization of “FINISHED.”
He also did this without putting down the dish towel, the plate he was drying and without using only his two front teeth to bite. I saw molars…I saw tongue…I saw the leaves disappear.
After that I don’t remember much because I pretty much fainted…not true: I almost cried, which made J roll his eyes a bit. Tonight I’m aiming for four leaves. I’m multiplying all my attempts by two, thank you very much.
It’s a good thing that my state of consciousness was not impaired by J’s unexpected and voluntary consumption of vegetation because, a mere ten minutes later, I was totally awake, aware and in awe of the fact that he ate his entire dinner using a fork. When I say a fork I mean an actual piece of flatware, not a plastic one…not a salad one either. He did not once attempt to switch said fork for a plastic spoon or to make do without any type of flatware and eat with his hand.
So far, the only people who have been equally excited about these developments have been my husband (who witnessed it,) my oldest son (who has been praying for it on a daily basis for years,) my ex-husband’s ex-wife (who also has an autistic child and KNOWS,) and J’s teacher. Other people will certainly look at me blankly when I tell them, but I don’t rightly care…my kid ate two leaves of spinach and used a fork…
The sanctity of the shoe box full of snacks was respected after the unauthorized excursion to extract cereal. The box was placed on top of the counter this morning (with several different items) and J walked past it with a quick glance and smile. He had a hard-boiled egg for breakfast (out of the two we served) and I know he will have his snack and lunch at school, so I think we’re working our way to make some positive changes at a pace that is conducive to success and J-cooperation.
I know there are books out there that teach how to “sneak” veggies into kids’ meals, but I don’t want to hoodwink J as much as I want to teach him to be mindful of the need for all sorts of food items. Like a goofball I fantasize about the day when J absent-mindedly picks up a tangerine or a banana and walks away eating it while looking at a book, holding a puzzle in his hand or just heading to his room to change his clothes. I know, perhaps, it’s a pipe dream, but it could happen. HE ATE TWO LEAVES OF FRESH SPINACH YESTERDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
At times I fear my everyday life is too ordinary and lackluster because of my excitement at these developments. I swear to you I actually read books and pursue other things, not just J’s vegetable consumption. I have hobbies…of sorts. I spent a great deal of time -just two days ago!- poring over maps of Napoleon’s movements in Russia in 1812 while reading War and Peace. When spring rolls around I will plant a container garden and I will make more catastrophic attempts at completing sewing projects, but for now…in the spirit of striking while the iron is hot…I am going to run with J’s acceptance (or humoring) of my exertions to improve his health.
This morning, while running along with the Wii, I switched channels and found the last 20 minutes of Mona Lisa Smile playing. If you’ve never seen this movie, I’ll give you a brief synopsis: young, idealistic female teacher goes to teach at women’s college during the Fifties and encounters the up-and-coming Stepford Wives among her students. She influences them (some instantly, others in spite of themselves,) and learns lessons about herself while teaching Art. It’s your typical Julia Roberts movie; she looks luminous; she looks determined; she plays Julia Roberts in your typical Julia Roberts movie (I think it would have been more interesting if someone like Diane Lane had played the role, but that’s just me.) I like Julia Roberts…but she’s always Julia Roberts.
But I digress…
Sometime in the last ten minutes of the movie, Julia Stiles gives a little speech to Julia Roberts about her decision to forgo law school in order to become a housewife. That’s my favorite part of the movie, and I will quote it for you because it sort of encapsulates how I’ve been feeling lately: “You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.” I live a very active inner life, and -because I am surrounded by complexities and nuances- it spills out and breathes on its own on a daily basis.
I love my son, but I don’t forget who I was before he was born and things became a little more convoluted. I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up; I rather feel like I’ve taken up something else and run with it…recklessly…with scissors and going “LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAA” all around the house from time to time. I am the Jane Goodall of flying pigs…and, because I am a very lucky and very blessed creature, they seem to be taking off from an airstrip very close to our house these days…
I am expecting a flock of them to start migrating towards us very soon…on a daily basis.