Tag Archives: Dash

Little feckers

Of all of us, Dash is the most delicious to mosquitoes.

I used to be right up there beside him in that achievement, but an amazing thing has happened this summer: I’m no longer beset by bites. And it’s – apparently, according to some light reading I did on the Internet – because I’m not nursing any more. I could swear I always got bitten before I had kids too; but on the other hand I’ve been pregnant or lactating solidly for the past eight summers, so maybe my memory before then is just too fuzzy. I mean, we didn’t live in the swamp that is the DC suburbs eight years ago either, so I have no local comparison. Anyway, this wonderfully unanticipated upshot of finally weaning the giant babies (which happened last November, if you weren’t paying attention) is that I only have a few stray itchies here and there instead of the 40 or so my legs were sporting this time last year.

So now it’s mostly just Dash who suffers. Mabel only gets one or two, and B generally repels them effectively with his dashing manliness. (Or possibly his unique combination of permanent hirsuteness and frequent sweatiness.) And Dash, poor bunny, hates mosquitoes. One of his first two-word combinations was “eviw addito”, parrotting me as I slapped one of the little feckers off my darling child’s alabaster forehead. (I said “evil mosquito”, if you haven’t worked that out.)

Last year we tried out a couple of the natural bug sprays, because DEET scares me and because he doesn’t have a bath every night so I don’t want something that has to be washed off. They didn’t work, but Dash decided he could probably make his own just as well. (Well, since they didn’t work, I suppose he was right.) I’m a bit vague on the science he claimed was behind it, but it involved scraping some bark into some water and crumbling up some leaves and adding them, and then spraying the resulting concoction (or is that a decoction? I know there’s a difference) on himself.

This year he decided to make his bug spray again. He got me to buy a spray bottle, which I did, because hey, anything to have him gainfully occupied outdoors, right? (I use the term loosely.) And then he filled it with his special formula and has been assiduously putting it on himself. He still has mosquito bites, and there’s a can of DEET (yes, I caved) beside the door, but he’s convinced that his way is the one true way.

I don’t want to wait for him to get West Nile Virus before I burst his bubble and force the hard stuff on him. But he’s surprisingly resistant to any sort of scientific experiment to determine exactly how well his spray is working. Because you can never know how many bites you might have got if you hadn’t used it, you know?

Three bottles of bug spray

One of these things is not like the others…


Picky eater central

So we had the long-awaited meeting with the food specialist nutritionist doctor lady yesterday. I’m honestly not exactly sure what you’d call her, but she’s in the gastroenterology department of Children’s Hospital, and she seemed to be exactly the right person to talk to to begin with, so if you’re hunting up information on super picky eaters, that might be the sort of place you would start.

First of all, I didn’t get lost finding it, didn’t ding anyone else in the parking lot (I never have done, but if I’m going to do it, chances are it’ll happen at a vital moment like just before a medical appointment we’ve waited two months for) and got through the iron-clad security of the hospital front desk. So that augured well.

The doctor talked to Dash and to me for a long time, asking me about what he ate as a baby, right from the beginning of solids, and asking him about what he eats now, and how he feels when he thinks about trying new foods, and so on. She was totally non-judgemental and was very nice when Dash wandered off at tangents that seemed irrelevant but would eventually turn out to be actually quite pertinent, if you had the patience to listen all the way to the end. I didn’t have to get defensive at all – she really just wanted to know what he eats, not why I didn’t give him x, y, or z. She has a superpicky daughter herself, so she knew EXACTLY how life is.

There’s no question, she said in the end, that Dash is a supertaster, and probably a supersmeller as well. He has what they call “Oral Hypersensitivites” and “Sensory Food Aversions”. Which is just a fancy way of saying he’s super picky, but I like it because it means there’s a physical reason, and it’s not because I fed him oatmeal at 2pm instead of 2.30pm one day when he was 7 months old. Or whatever.

I’m probably not going to go round telling everyone “Oh, he’s a supertaster” because it does sound pretty poncy, actually, I realise. But it makes a difference to me. And, I think, to him. He’s not just not trying new foods because he’s a stubborn brat (me), or because he’s not as brave as other kids (him). It is actually legitimately harder for him. That’s something I’ve known at least since his sister started on solids, but it’s nice to hear it from an outside source.

The upshot is as follows; no quick fixes here, I’m afraid:

– We got a blood draw to check that he has no deficiencies that aren’t obvious to the naked eye. (Not that he has any deficiencies that are, either.)

– He needs to start taking a daily vitamin with iron. Extracting a promise that he would do that was not easy for the doctor, but he did agree eventually. (In case you didn’t know, the gummy vitamins don’t have iron, but the Flintstones Complete chewable ones do. He used to take a vitamin but started to refuse a while ago when one sort was too sugary and the other was too … I don’t know … something…)

– He needs to start eating with us at the table again. This has fallen off lately in spite of all my earlier great intentions, what with baseball games at 6pm twice a week, and other things. We will go back to the bigger table so he can sit as far away as possible from the smells of other food that assault his nose so terribly.

– Breakfast cereal with added vitamins and minerals (like the frosted mini-wheats he eats so many of) are actually very good because they’re probably the only place he’s getting those micronutrients at the moment. So, extra servings of mini-wheats all round!

– The doctor will set up an appointment with a psychologist who will take it from here, working with Dash to list what foods he’d like to try, which ones he thinks will be easiest and hardest, and then taking it back to first principles and starting with touching the food, getting familiar with it, finally licking it, etc.

(I do feel like in theory I should be able to do that myself instead of spending time and money having someone else do it. On the other hand, I’ve been trying to do it since he was a baby and clearly haven’t succeeded. Probably the mere fact that it’s someone other than a parent asking you will help. Not to mention the fact that I’m not, in actual fact, a food therapist.)

– Big thing: We have to leave a three-hour gap between meals/snacks. So he should come home from school at 3.30 and have a big snack. As much as he wants to eat in 15-30 minutes. And then nothing more until dinner at 6.30. I don’t know how I’m going to withstand the whining, but we’ll try hard to deal.

– Finally, the doctor made sure that Dash himself wants to eat new foods. She said she gets plenty of parents who want their child to eat more foods, but until the child wants to, there’s no point in working with them. At 8, Dash is pretty young for this, apparently, but she was happy to go ahead and said the psychologist will tease out if he’s definitely ready or not ready at this point.

The reasoning here, she said, is that there’s a window between about 1 and 3 years when children are willing to taste new foods. From about 4 to 8 that window closes, and therapy won’t really help until they’re older and social reasons for wanting to eat a greater variety of foods kick in, like wanting to eat out with friends. I think Dash’s worries about what he’ll eat when we’re on holiday and his unwillingness to do camp this summer because he thinks he’ll be teased about his lunch fall into that category. He’s very aware that all the other kids eat more things than he does.

Dash eating an ice cream

Dash contemplates lemon custard ice cream, which he has no problems with, luckily.


I’m a little blocked up. Congested. My head is full of stuff and nothing’s coming out.

This is both the literal truth and a metaphor. I have a cold (thanks, Mabel) but I’m also waiting for things to resolve before I blog about them. Which is silly, because life never resolves. It moves on, but it’s not done (till it’s done). It’s not as if they’re secrets; just that I like having the end, or an end of sorts, to tell when I tell the beginning. Making a complete narrative, like.

It’s mostly Dash-related, so there’s also the writing-about-your children thing that raises its head more the older they get. When does it stop being my story and start being his, to tell or not tell as he wishes? But on the whole, I tell his stories to help other people who might be in the same position, and then say that makes it right. I don’t know if it does or not.

Tomorrow I have a meeting at his school to talk about his class placement for next year. He’s hard to place because he’s smart but his reading’s so slow that it mightn’t look like it. He’s good at math and has a great memory and his vocabulary is wonderful and he’s technically reading at a fourth-grade level. But he needs extra time for reading assignments. It’s a little as if he’s dyslexic, but he’s not dyslexic.

Next week we have an appointment at Children’s Hospital with a feeding specialist, or a dietician, or whatever that person might be called. To talk about the lack of variety in his diet – which is not apparently having any impact on his health or growth, but is starting to affect him socially. He’s worried about what he’ll eat when we’re on vacation this year. This is the first time he’s expressed a concern like that – before, he never seemed to care if he ate or didn’t eat when we were in a different place. Maybe it’s because we’re not going to Ireland, where at least he knows they have toast and bread and packets of peanuts. (We’re going to Italy. Mabel will be happy with pasta and pizza, but not Dash.)

I don’t know what we expect the expert to do. It’s not as if he’s going to uncover some new food group consisting of a range of healthy foods that Dash just happens to love. I don’t even know what I hope he’ll do.

It’s possible, you might be thinking, since I’m bringing these two issues up on the same page, that Dash’s eating issues and Dash’s reading issues are connected. That there’s some umbrella Thing that will draw a line from one to the other, stopping at his other quirks, ones that are maybe just the other side of perfectly ordinary, along the way.

Maybe there is.

I’m calling the insurance company and trying to figure out what they will cover assessments for, if we go outside the school system, which it looks like we should do because when a kid’s neither failing nor disruptive, the school doesn’t feel the need to test them. (You can demand that they test them, but they probably won’t find anything much.) So far it sounds as if insurance only covers assessments for ADD and ADHD, but I think I’m just asking the wrong questions.

Lots of maybes. Lots of questions. Following avenues, asking for stories, listening to my gut. Trying.