Imagine my delight when I found gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free fries shaped like alphabet letters in the freezer section of the local grocery store.
Rhema is a picky, faddy eater (understatement of the year).
She has 3 food lists: Obsession, Toleration and Detestation.
1) Obsession: I’m obsessed with you, ______ (fill in the blank food). I will eat you morning, noon, night and snack time.
2) Toleration: I tolerate you, ______ (fill in the blank food), if the moon and stars are all aligned.
3) Detestation: I despise you, ______ (fill in the blank food). Do not dare come near me. Any green food or vegetable is on this list.
Foods on her list can, without warning, move from the Obsession list to the Toleration list and back again. There are never more than four or five food items on either the Obsession or Toleration List at any one time. Occasionally foods may drop suddenly from the Obsession list all the way down to the Detestation list, never to rise again.
Currently, gluten-free fries are on Rhema’s Toleration List.
So I eagerly snatched up all the bags of Alphabet fries (they’re actually called “Alphatots”), because any one who has a child with feeding issues knows that when there is something your child will eat, you must stock up on it. You must never run out.
This is great, I thought. Here is a GFCF food she can eat, and it can even be a learning tool! Maybe I’ll spell her name out on her plate tonight. Maybe I can give her the letter A, wait and see if I can get her to ask for B, then C, then D! Or maybe we can sing the ABC’s before we eat. In the future, maybe I’ll only give her vowels and then later work on consonants. My mind was racing with the possibilities. I could hardly wait.
For dinner that night, I set her plate before her with a random assortment of letters. Hope also got a plate of alphabet fries. Hope happily shouted, “ABC’s!” and consumed her fries within minutes.
Rhema refused to touch hers.
I was confused. It’s new to her, I thought. She just needs a little time, a little coaxing.
“Rhema, look! It’s the letter W! Yummm. Taste it. It’s so good.”
No response. I picked up one of her fries and wagged it in front of her. “Eat, Rhema!”
Then she started the squirmy dance in her chair. Then the escalating whines of protest. I could suddenly hear the alarm signals going off.
“O.K., O.K., Rhema.” Sigh. I’m backing off now. Let’s give you something to eat from the Obsession List.
I looked at my daughter, waiting for her to look at me. When she did, I suddenly understood. If she could talk, she would have said,
“Silly woman. We can say the alphabet. We can sing the alphabet. We can even do the alphabet puzzle. But we never, ever eat the alphabet.”