In the 29th of our series, our mom of three kids, Emily, Grant and Lynn, is beside herself when she discovers evidence of Lynn’s bingeing.
Again! Here I am again, writing about food issues. I thought we had dealt with all of this crap. But, clearly, that’s not the case. How many freaking times do we have to go through this? I am so frustrated and angry. It just never ends.
I was stripping the beds to do laundry, and I found nine empty packages of fruit gummies in her bed. So, of course, I then searched the rest of the room and, sure enough, there are all kinds of wrappers and moldy mystery foods stashed away in corners, behind bookshelves and under papers. I want to scream!
I know she has FASD and I know she doesn’t learn the way the other kids do, but this is getting more and more ridiculous. And you can’t tell me that she doesn’t understand consequences, because she sure doesn’t have a problem hiding the evidence, so she obviously gets that it’s wrong. Argh!
So now what do I do? The books on FASD all say that we have to lower our expectations. They tell us that kids with FASD don’t have the same values that most of the rest of us have, and that they don’t see stealing the same way we do--she wanted the food so she took it. But she hid the evidence so she knew it was wrong. This is not acceptable behaviour and, no matter what her challenges are, she needs to learn that.
How do I motivate this kid who doesn’t seem to want to change her behaviour? For years we’ve tried rewarding good behaviour, consequencing bad behaviour, and nothing changes. She can repeat back to me every word I say about it, and it sounds as if she’s getting it, but she just can’t process it and stop herself.
I took all the wrappers and put them in a pile on the kitchen table, then I went for a walk to clear my mind. I’ll deal with it all when she comes home from school.
Oh man, what an afternoon! Lynn comes in the door after school and stops dead in her tracks when she sees the pile of wrappers on the table. So I asked how her day was, she says, “Good.” Her eyes keep shifting from the pile of wrappers to my face, and she knows she’s been busted.
I told her to go bring out all the moldy food she’s hidden in her room and add it to the pile. After she does that the pile looks really disgusting, and I notice that most of the food seems to be what I had packed for her recess snack at school. At least that’s what I’m guessing it to be. Who knew that mini carrots evolve into a soggy orange mush, and that cheese retains its shape even when covered in mold?
I ask her where the rest of her recess snacks are hidden. She gets her backpack out and starts bringing out bags and bags of mystery food. Fortunately, her back is towards me because I have to cover my mouth to keep from laughing. She must have three weeks worth of snacks in there! Why doesn’t she just throw it out at school?
By now, the pile on the table is very large and very disgusting. The other kids are so grossed out, but by now, I’m very calm and controlled. I have Lynn sit down at the table with me, and I ask her to explain. She says, “I don’t like those snacks.” When I ask what she could have done differently she says, “Tell you I don’t like them, and ask for something different.”
She knows what to do, but can’t actually do it. It’s fascinating from a developmental and psychological perspective. But incredibly frustrating as a parent! And as for her explanation about the fruit gummy wrappers well, she wanted them.
I will have to start using the lock on the pantry again, to stop her bingeing on snacks, and she will choose her recess snacks every morning. Of course, she had been choosing the carrots and cheese for her snack before this, so I’m not overly optimistic that anything will change, but I have to try.
This two steps forward, and one step back, is so frustrating. Just when I think we’re making progress with her, things like this happen and I feel so useless. I know we will be doing this again and again and again.