Sunday 25 November 2012

Week 64- Sinead O'Connor, bucking donkeys and prison hunger strikes

How did Nancy learn to make herself cry proper tears on demand?

She gets herself in a flap about something, and then it's like watching in slow motion as her face crumples, she has a little think about it, then literally squeezes out a tear, Sinead O'Connor style.

One of the main causes of the complete meltdown is lunch.

Breakfast is OK. Nancy will eat a few spoonfuls of porridge. Or, if she doesn't, then she'll happily wash her hands in the milk in my bowl of cereal, like at the end of a Chinese meal. And pick out the odd bit of fruit 'n' fibre to chew on.

But come midday, something changes.

Like she's wised up to what's going on.

I try and get her into the high chair but she literally goes rigid. And the best I can do is get one leg in so she's kind of half straddling the table. She arches her back and throws her head back. It's like wrestling with a bucking donkey.

This normally takes the best part of ten minutes.

And it's a daily gamble as to who's will is going to break first. If I win, she refuses food sitting in the high chair, if she wins, she refuses food sitting on the kitchen floor.

I don't want to panic, because she's no smaller than other children her age, and she's full of energy. But seriously, how can she not be hungry when she just eats individual peas and then swipes the rest of her food onto the floor?

And then the tears start.

It's just noise to start with. But as she gets into her stride. She balls her fists up, screws up her face, you can almost hear, 'I went to the doctor's and guess what he told me, guess what he told me,' as one solitary tear rolls down her cheek.

I find myself looking enviously at other children of a similar age eating, when  we're out. That sounds awful, because I wouldn't wish this on other mums, but if I see a little person eating a sandwich, or sucking on a pouch of something that often looks and smells like it's gone round once already, I want to stop the parent and hysterically ask, 'How did you make them do that? HOW DID YOU MAKE THEM DO THAT??'

Nancy can hold cucumber in her cheeks for hours, then regurgitate it when you'd forgotten she's even eaten it.

There's a very small number of things she might eat. Unsurprisingly, nothing I've made for her. It's mainly super expensive ready made stuff. Or food off my plate.

I worry that I just project food anxiety onto her every time I open the fridge.

My voice is saying 'come on darling, open up,' whereas my face is saying,'please don't be weird about food. Please don't have a bad relationship with it like me and virtually every woman I know.'

But then her resistance goes beyond food.

Nancy used to love going in the bath, and I'd say 'kick kick kick' to her and she'd splash the water around. But over the last few days, she's stood up and literally tried to climb out. Or gripped my arm and balanced on one leg, Mr Miyagi style.

It sometimes feels a bit like a baby protest Groundhog Day. Nancy's having a great time, running in between the sofa and the armchair opposite, throwing herself at them head first.

Then I open the fridge or turn on the tap in the bathroom, and everything goes nuclear.

Someone told me when Nancy was very small, not to panic about things, because it's all just a phase.

And nothing lasts more than three xx.

And I can't remember what the xx was, as I was probably panicking my face off at the time because she wouldn't breast feed, or sleep, or her poo was a weird colour.

And I'm hoping that xx was weeks, not months.

Because weeks of food refusal is not great, but we'll get through it.

Months is more like some kind of prison hunger strike.

And it's going to be me crying my face off if that's what we're looking at.

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