I’ve heard it said, “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” Yet, so often we do just the opposite. We look around us and, without really knowing what’s happening in a person’s life, we at least mentally (if not verbally) have a quick solution for how they could “fix” everything. This is especially true with children. Before we have kids, we have all of these grand ideas of what well-mannered, obedient little angels we will have. They’ll never talk back, make noises in church, or throw tantrums - especially in public. Then one day you have kids, and well…
One of the first things I had to get over during these years was worrying about what other people thought of me. I actually tried to leave the house with the kids as little as possible. They were both time bombs ready to explode at any moment, and leaving the house rarely ended well. We definitely never went to restaurants. It’s difficult to make a quick exit when you’ve just ordered your dinner. I might attempt a much-needed emergency trip to Wal-Mart, but even those were disastrous. First of all, Autumn was dealing with sensory processing issues. I’ve mentioned that noises and touch were big triggers. For some reason, large stores did not settle well with her. (It’s not unique to her, I’ve met other kids with similar struggles who have the same problem.) If we went to the Galleria, it was a given, Autumn would cry from the moment we stepped in the building until we finally made it out of there. The whole experience was absolutely overwhelming to her. Then there was Silas. You never knew when he would suddenly become irritable or be in pain. If he started crying, then Autumn would join in because she couldn’t stand the noise of his crying. For many years, just riding in the van was an issue for Autumn. Something about it just threw her over the edge. Most places we went, at least one of them cried the entire ride.
On a good day, someone might see us in the store and comment about how cute and sweet the kids were. I would smile and pray they hadn’t just jinxed the entire outing. On the bad days, I had to learn to confidently go about my tasks, ignoring all of the people staring at me, wondering why the kids were screaming. I used to be one of “them,” so I can’t be too hard on them. It was always so nice, though, to run into that occasional person who would give a little smile and an understanding glance.
I say all this because at this point in the story, it is now 2008, Silas is about to turn three, and he is still drinking from a bottle. It’s not that he couldn’t drink from a cup. He always drank water and other liquids from cups. It was just the formula. It was the only thing that didn’t make him sick, and he refused to drink it out of a cup. Believe me, I had made many attempts. Autumn’s occupational therapists had given me suggestions, I’d bought every cup imaginable, I’d coaxed and even bribed, but to no avail. If he hadn’t needed the formula to survive, it wouldn’t have mattered, and I would have tossed them long ago. However, the formula was the only safety net I had. Whenever he got bad, we could go back to just formula, and I could get him better. I’ve heard that kids who have to stay on formula can have this issue. Some theorize it’s because the formula smells so bad that only the bottle lets them drink it without having to smell it. Who knows? Whatever the reason, Silas wasn’t budging.
I had decided it was time for the final battle. Silas attended a preschool a few times a week. It would be starting back soon, and it was now or never. I talked it up for weeks. The theme: bottles are for babies, and you’re not a baby any more. I had resolved myself to the fact that we were going to need the formula for a while. With that reality, he had to swap to a cup.
I really thought it was quite a brilliant plan. July 25th was the day. I had worked it out with someone beforehand. She had a new, little baby. Silas and I drove over to their house. Silas carried in a gift bag with all of his bottles, and he left them there for the baby to “use.” Silas and I had special cup shopping trip, and that was going to be the end of it. It had all worked out so well in my head, but as usual real life didn’t cooperate.
Don’t forget - formula was still Silas’ main (often only) source of nourishment. After we gave all the bottles away, Silas went on a formula strike. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get him to drink it from anything I had at the house. After three days, his health was a greater concern than the bottles, and I retrieved them from my friend. But even this didn’t work. My campaign had been effective. Silas said, “No, those are for babies.” I had really worked myself into a corner now. Silas wouldn’t drink the formula from a cup…or a bottle!!!
I decided not to panic. He was nearly three. He would just have to eat real food. Surely he’d outgrown whatever the problem was. So, for the first time in his life, he ate like a “regular” child – minus all of the possible food allergies. I was hopeful. This time it would work…it had to.
But it didn't.
To Be Continued…