Tuesday, February 1, 2011

She can't

Pumpkin is pretty easy to take care of. Other than the fact that she's five years old, can barely walk, hardly talks at all and still wears diapers. Given all her delays - she's a really mellow kid. I am incredibly thankful that she doesn't throw a fit every time something doesn't go her way.

However, I guess our honeymoon is over.

For lack of a better way of phrasing it anyway.

Things Pumpkin could do when she got here seem to be too difficult for her now. The biggest thing I've noticed is behavior at mealtime.

When she first came into our home, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Pumpkin could feed herself. She tried new foods. She insisted on using silverware. Mealtime was easier than I thought it would be.

For reasons I'll never know, it's not the same anymore.

Maybe it's because visits have started with her mom. Twice a week her mom feeds her crap out of a bag (ie. a Happy Meal). I'm offering up homemade food. I'm offering up homemade food that probably looks and smells different than anything she's used to. It didn't bother her for the first three weeks. But it seems to be a problem now. (Even Cheerios for breakfast are getting a blank stare from Pumpkin.)

Maybe it's because her teeth hurt. I can't tell. Her gums look swollen. But sometimes she eats. And sometimes she doesn't.

Maybe she wants to manipulate me. Most every time she'll eat if I feed her. But...is she eating because she's hungry and can't or won't do it herself? Or is it more like I'm forcing her to eat when I try to feed her myself?

I go round and round with what I should do. She possesses the ability to feed herself. No kid will starve themselves. But she's also incredibly developmentally delayed. And she's sad. She's suffered trauma.

I'm battling my own demons. I get angry when she just sits there. And really - that's my problem. Not hers. I really need to get over myself.

Tonight I held up the spoon with food on it, put the spoon in her mouth and then let go. She would sit there for a couple seconds with the spoon hanging out of her mouth then she'd grab hold of the spoon and finish eating the bite of what I fed her. By the time everyone else was done eating, she did decide to eat a few bites all by herself.

I have GOT to show more compassion. It's not going to hurt Pumpkin if I feed her. I have to meet her where SHE'S at. The little girl is going through hell right now. Foster care is no picnic for all parties involved. I'm working on myself. I just figured I'd put it out there for all the internet to see too.


Cheryl said...

I'll tell you as many times as necessary... you're doing great! This is hard work but you're all doing it- hang in there!!

SusanR said...

Maybe she was very hungry for good food at first and she's just not as hungry anymore? Those little girls who don't burn up much, don't require much.

jendoop said...

Your thoughts sound like the way I think, pros and cons abound on each side to the point I just don't know what to do. That's why an outside voice can help and why I appreciate blog comments :)

I think it is definitely related to the visits with Mom and dentist visit. Think about it- she went into a strange office that she doesn't like, fell asleep, woke up feeling really groggy and pain in her mouth. Her mouth probably feels completely different, even when not in pain. That is traumatic, on top of other traumas and all those new meds she is taking.

Something an Occupational Therapist told me when our foster son had eating issues is that young children really require very little food - a Tablespoon of each major food group per year of life, per meal. So that means if he ate an entire banana for breakfast, he met his quota of fruit for more than half the day. Then I shouldn't worry when he won't eat an apple slice at lunch.

I think the most important thing here is that Pumpkin feels consistency from you, whatever you feel that you can handle doing consistently with love. Food can become the ultimate power struggle. Choose not to get into it, offer the food but don't require she eat it (but no dessert).
That is my unvarnished opinion, and too much of it. You do what your gut tells you.

noisycolorfullively said...

I have no advice. Helpful, huh? But, I can empathize. I am constantly wondering if I'm enabling or neglecting. And that bit about working on yourself -ha! I had no idea how wonky I was 'till I met these kids. I don't know how much help I've given them, but I'm a completely different woman than I was a 1 1/2 years ago and it's all because of my babies. Amen.

MamaFoster said...

for right now i would let her feed herself as much or as little as she wants unless after a few meals is just isn't eating enough to survive.

it could be because of ANY of the reason you mentioned so you will just have to wait and take your cues from her.

don't stress about it like we all know we ALL would :)