Mealtimes aren’t all that fun. Actually, I don’t even like them. I dread them. I hear you talking about dinner and I get a yucky feeling in my tummy. It tells me there’s about to be food put in front of me that I probably won’t like. It also tells me that there’s about to be some un-fun times at the table. I get a nervous panic and I can’t ever figure out a good way to get out of something that is unfortunately going.to.happen.
I can tell you feel worried too, just by your voice. You say ‘It’s time for dinner now’ and I know it’s not good news. There’s going to be something dreadful on the plate. You and Daddy are going to make me eat it or at best, put some in my mouth. I already know I will be letting you down, no matter how hard I try.
And I don’t really understand why I have to eat it. It makes me cry, it makes me gag, it makes me feel sick inside. My body is just telling me NO. My head tells me don’t touch it. But my heart feels that I am doing something wrong. I can tell by the look on your face. I can tell by your words. I can tell when Daddy gets upset with me too.
I don’t know what to do. If I say ‘no’, I get into trouble. It makes me feel sad. If I try to get it down, I can’t. Letting my body down also makes me feel sad. It is like there is a battle between my body and you and Daddy. And I’m stuck in between.
I see the guilt in your eyes. The guilt that you can’t get me to eat up like the other kids. It’s like you feel you’ve done something wrong. And I know it’s going to come out at me. Whether it’s the yucky words, the yelling at me or the upsetting things like not allowing me to have dessert or worse…telling my brother and sister what a good job they have done. I struggle not to take on that shame.
Can I let you in on something?
It’s really hard for me. My body just isn’t like the other kids’. My sensory system just doesn’t know how to understand and take in what the foods are like. Sometimes it’s just the smell (to me banana smell actually is strong). Sometimes it’s the look of the food (you know the sliminess of that zucchini?). Sometimes I’ll get it to my mouth but just the taste makes me gag. And sometimes the feeling inside my mouth…well my head just says SPIT IT OUT and I have to listen.
Sometimes it’s not even any of that. It’s like my body is saying that food will not make me strong. Please don’t eat it.
I never want to disappoint you. I was born to love you and always want to impress you. But there is something in the way. It’s my sensory system.
It’s not your fault. No it’s not. You have tried so hard, haven’t you? I know you and Daddy just want me to be eating the right foods. You have done everything you could.
The trouble for us is that you get so worried and upset. And when you do, my tummy feels it. My heart pounds. I can’t think. I certainly can’t think about eating. It feels impossible. And my head just tells me this.is.bad. And it remembers it all, for the next time we eat.
I want to be able to enjoy foods. I want to be the good one, sitting and eating it all up. I want you cheering for me. I want to have fun and laugh with you and Daddy.
But I need your help. I need your patience. I need to go slow with this. I need your encouragement. I need your love. Then my body can give it a try.
And the reason I need you to take some time to do this carefully with me, is because otherwise I will never be able to move forward. Eating will always make me feel scared, I will always dread eating, you and Daddy will always dread mealtimes and I fear that I will lose your love with every meal I just can’t eat.
Will you help me?
Sensitive (but wanting to be vibrant) child