“When you’re down, it’s a long way up. When you’re up, it’s a long way down. It’s all the same thing…”
-No New Tale To Tell, Love and Rockets
We’ve had a burst of courage here at the Hostage Household. After the homemade bread trials, TJ felt he was ready to burst out of carbs and dairy and boldly venture into meat.
Tacos are a favourite meal around here. It’s one of the few meals that doesn’t require considerate sides to make it palatable for TJ. I’ve noticed him carefully sizing up the ground beef filling, and watching us enjoy stuffing it into taco shells and tortillas. I’ve also noticed a new fascination with label reading.
“Mom! This has 2% iron in it. How much do I need to eat to not need the Jedi Juice anymore?”
Jedi Juice is our family lingo for the iron supplement he takes every morning.
Motivated by the desire to eat foods that contain enough iron for his needs, I put it out there that beef is a good source of iron.
He’s been eyeing the taco filling with a little more interest since.
I always ask if he wants some when I serve it. He always replies with a very polite, “No thanks.” Two nights ago, we had Sloppy Joes and for the first time ever, TJ allowed me to place (at his request) a small bowl of beef beside his plate. That alone is a huge accomplishment for him. It sat there, untouched, but it sat there and the meal was very pleasant.
At bedtime, I extended the invitation to try a very, very small taste of beef. The choice being entirely his. He said, “Yes.”
I told him I used to drown my potatoes in ketchup to make them taste … edible, and asked what he thought would make his first trial of beef taste good to him.
Well… why not?
Yesterday, we had beef again. With pancakes. I found myself on equal footing with my food phobic son. I’ve never had a beef pancake before. I made three batches – plain, chocolate chip and apple cinnamon. You know what? Ground beef on a plain pancake is quite the delicious combination. I didn’t realize TJ had chosen to put a pinch of beef on an apple cinnamon pancake. He took a bite…
I found a napkin and he spat it out, disgusted. “Ugh. I think I need a break from trying new things.”
Curiously, there was a very, very tiny amount of beef thinly spread on a small part of his pancake. He gagged on the chunky bits of apple, a texture he usually enjoys, likely because the expectation of the unfamiliar caused him to panic. It seems when he’s comfortable with the food, he knows how to manage it in his mouth. Add a new dimension to the mix, and suddenly the food becomes its own uncontrollable entity.
Now, there’s two ways to look at this experience. Some might call it failure – he didn’t like the beef; we didn’t gain a new iron-rich food. “When you’re up, it’s a long way down”, says the song. TJ now has about 40-50 foods in his repertoire. We are definitely “up!” It would take something cataclysmic to consider this experience a “failure.”
There was a time when this experience would have destroyed any hope of beef and probably taken pancakes off the list of edible foods. Instead, he’s quite chuffed that he took a bite, and accepts that the taste caught him off guard. He’s even willing to try beef again.
I see this experience as a huge success. TJ stared his fear in the eye and won. We didn’t gain a new safe food. Not yet.
What we’ve gained is so much more valuable than beef. The monster we dine with doesn’t eat here anymore.