In a New Year’s posting, I discussed my resolution to get Eddie to eat with utensils. As I’m happy to report, we are still working on that daily. He is now willing to use utensils, with help, instead of just getting really mad when we put one in his hand. This is one more step towards independent eating. However, I did have a psychological set-back earlier this week.
I made Eddie lunch, and decided that since it was a hot dog, eating with his hands was appropriate. I set the plate in front of him and watched him immediately pull the “dog” out of the bun and eat it with his hands. Next, he tore the bun apart and ate it a little at a time. As you can imagine, before he was done eating there was ketchup all over his face and hands. The whole event was not pretty to watch.
When I think about all the things Eddie needs taught, I often get overwhelmed. This is why I pick one big thing at a time to focus on. While I had my radar set on using utensils, I had been neglecting to see how inappropriately he was handling food we all normally eat with our hands. I started to think about sandwiches, fried chicken, nachos, and all the other yummy things we don’t eat with a fork and spoon. He doesn’t eat any of those items in a way that is appropriate in public.
Our ultimate goal is to eat in a restaurant as a family and to see Eddie eat just like everybody else. I can see that this is going to take some serious time. For now, the focus is still on utensils, but I’m going to pay attention to other eating habits as well. At six you can get away with a lot of things. At sixteen, you can get away with nothing. Constantly looking forward is important, no matter how daunting it can feel.
When Eddie was a baby, an amazing teacher told me about a mom who realized she had to teach her child who was blind how to eat an ice cream cone. As we know, if you don’t lick evenly around the sides, ice cream drips everywhere. The story pointed out that the mom was overwhelmed at the prospect of teaching one more thing step-by-step and that few things would be learned incidentally.
Now I know exactly what that woman felt like. We don’t only have to teach Eddie how to eat a bowl of soup, or mashed potatoes, but we also have to teach him how to eat finger-foods…even hot dogs.