Tears in my Chicken Soup

I cried last night.  I cried hard.  I cried like I have not cried in a long time.

I cried over a bowl of chicken soup.

My two picky little eaters have taken a liking to a certain brand of canned chicken noodle soup.  Although I am able to buy it in bulk, the spot on the shelf for the soup empties weekly.  In an attempt to save some money and offer a slightly healthier alternative, I decided to buy a few rotisserie chickens, carrots, celery, onions, rotini noodles and chicken broth.  My dad (because my time is very limited lately) graciously offered to make us a bunch of soup and portion it out so we could freeze it and easily serve it for lunches to the boys.

The soup arrived last night, and I excitedly warmed up a bowl for the boys to try.

It was a huge failure.

B took one bite and refused to eat anymore because, “the broth tastes different and the chicken is kind of….oodily.”  The soup was not exactly the same and therefore, he did not want it.  I got down on his level and acknowledged his feelings.  I let him know that I understand that he likes things to be the same and when they are not that makes him uneasy.  We talked about that we might not always get what we expect, but that we will be OK.  I asked him if he thought the soup being different was a big deal or a small deal, a technique we are implementing in day treatment and at home. He responded, with tears in his eyes, “It is a big deal.”  I gave him a questioning look and the tears started rolling and he said, “I know you say it is a small deal, but it is a big deal to me.  I makes me feel like I have lots of energy because it isn’t the same.”

I couldn’t respond in that moment.  I was so proud of him for being able to acknowledge those feelings, but so sad that he was having such big feelings about something so small.  I gave in to him and popped a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave and moved on to feeding A the soup.

He got a big smile on his face, pounded his little fists on the table and yelled, “Soup, soup, yummy!” He took one bite and quickly cringed and spit it out.  Second bite, same result.  He tried one more time, and started whining and saying, “Icky, soup icky.” For him it was the fact that the chicken was shredded up and sticking to the carrots and noodles.  His oral defensiveness does not allow for multi-textured foods to pass his little lips.

He became mad and I became even more sad.  Why does something as small as a bowl of soup have to be such a big deal?  Why do I have to see these little guys constantly becoming anxious and upset? Why does it have to be so hard, all the time?

After everyone was asleep for the night I sat down and my mind began replaying these questions over and over.  My heart was heavy and the tears started.  Slowly at first, but as the questions kept replaying in my mind and I pictured the anxious looks on my boys faces when the soup hit their lips, the tears turned to sobs.  My whole body shook and my tears stained my cheeks.

Once the tears subsided, I felt a little better.  I stopped and reassessed the situation and marveled that B was able to articulate so well why he didn’t want the soup and that A was pairing words together.  I decided that just because they didn’t eat the soup, didn’t make it a failure.  They still showcased some other really great skills that we have been working so hard to achieve. They did well.

I am becoming more at ease with this stuff most of the time, but every once in a while, it will hit me like a ton of bricks.  And boy do those bricks hurt.  I do wonder if that will ever go away, or if there will still be tears in my chicken soup twenty years from now.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kateshrewsday
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 11:25:11

    What beautiful, insightful writing. These two wonderful boys also have an amazing mother. I am a UK teacher of children with autism. By the time they get to me they are seven or eight, and they leave me at 11.

    School dinners are a continual trial and we teachers maintain a wry sense of humour because, of course, lunch is not our own loving creation. Despite careful research and briefing first thing in the school day, when the kids hear the menu and make their order, by lunchtime foodie problems materialise from nowhere. Our kids are on a journey: some cannot bear gravy or the wrong foods touching each other. We try to bring in new foods and textures but the wrong move can cause untold anxiety.

    But they remain wonderful kids with a beautiful attitude towards life.

    Just wanted to say: solidarity, sister. Hope tomorrow brings new inspiration 🙂

    Reply

  2. asdmommy
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 12:20:19

    😦 I so get this.

    Reply

  3. Andrea
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 14:52:03

    I am so proud of you for putting the right perspective on these situations, I don’t know how you do it! Big hugs!

    Reply

  4. Helena
    Mar 09, 2011 @ 16:51:58

    I don’t have a wee one on the spectrum, but I can totally relate to working hard on a nice, healthy meal and having it totally rejected. I think it’s wonderful that B was able to express his feelings and that A even gave the “new soup” a shot! That’s more than I can say for you-know-who most nights. (Insert side eye here)

    You’re such an awesome, patient mom. ❤

    Reply

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