We have just returned from camping at a family friendly campground just outside of Fergus, Ontario. As we were packing, the question passed back and forth between myself and Hostage Dad.
“What food do you bring on a camping trip for a child with SED?”
The answer? Whatever he will eat.
We packed up our campfire fare of steak, burgers, wieners and small roasting potatoes plus a collection of crackers, buns, juice and the fixings for s’mores. Excited, we set off to Highland Pines and the campsite that would be our home for the next two days.
TJ had also picked out a package of carrot muffins, which if eaten, would be the first time he has eaten a carrot since it came in pureed form out of a jar before he was a year old.
The somewhat secluded area where we set up our tent only had one other family camping there. The two girls next door quickly made friends with the twins and the four kids spent the days swimming in the pool across the path and the playground behind it. We took parenting shifts minding the kids so we could get snacks and meals prepared and take the occasional break to enjoy the scenery and the solitude. It turns out, our new friends live only a brief 20 minute drive from home.
Eating wise, TJ had plenty to choose from. The first night, a meal of perfectly cooked steak and small roasted potatoes cooked over the fire pit tasted absolutely heavenly. I told the kids I was making campfire french fries, but they had to be round to fit on the skewers. When dinner hit the table, I realized there was nothing “safe” in the offerings, but only I seemed to notice. A box of crackers were handy just in case, but to my surprise and delight, not necessary. TJ loved squishing the potato out from the skin and said they tasted “awesome!” Yay for fire baked potato!
Later that evening, our campsite neighbours arrived with a small tray of vegetables to share. Both TJ and his sister declined, as did the neighbour’s kids. Instead, all four children took turns taking handfuls of the open bag of party mix I left available with instructions to help themselves. Mom mentioned how impressed she was with her younger daughter who never eats anything in the presence of people she doesn’t know well.
All the kids were having a great time roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. Even the campfire was well behaved and quite cordial.
The next morning, TJ pulled out a carrot muffin for breakfast. I said nothing but fully expected him to not like it. To my surprise, he ate the entire top, but lost interest in the bottom. He placed it on the table, promising to come back for it later.
“Sometimes, I only like the muffin tops,” I said, “The bottom sometimes feels and tastes different.”
He paused, somewhat appreciatively, but still torn between not wanting to waste food and hesitant about having to finish the part of the muffin that lacked the texture he enjoyed.
“It’s okay if you don’t want it,” I continued, “If you want another muffin, there are plenty more and you can have another top later if you like.”
His worried expression suddenly turned to relief. He had permission to enjoy this new food and was under no obligation to eat more than he wanted, or the part he didn’t really like. With a smile, he put the bottom part of the muffin in the trash bag and ran off to join his sister and friends at the playground.
Carrots and potatoes. Hostage Dad is already considering a fire pit for our backyard.