While Joshua has been unwell this last couple of weeks, his eating habits have gone awry. I know myself that I do not feel much like eating when my throat is sore or when I have a temperature, but I still worry when he does not eat. Food is one of Joshua’s great pleasures and as I am an acknowledged feeder, his love of food brings me joy too. It somehow makes me feel like a better mother if Joshua eats the meals that I present to him.
Yesterday we had a leisurely morning but headed out to a neighbouring market town around midday. We started with some shopping, where Joshua behaved badly as a protest : I wanted a woolly hat as I had earache, so we went into a familiar walking shop where I began to try hats on for him. He ripped each one of my head and then he pulled a display of hats off the wall, throwing it across the shop. The sales assistant knows us in there but I was mortified nonetheless and I quickly chose the most expensive hat that he had thrown onto the floor. While I was paying, he managed to hop his wheelchair across the shop, despite the brakes being applied. It was very clear that Joshua was not impressed in the first shop, he communicated that dissatisfaction really effectively.
So we dared to take him to a pub for lunch to warm us all up, dreading how he might behave. But as he was happy to be in the coal-fire lit pub, he was an angel. He sat quietly while we ordered and he hugged me and waved at the other diners. My fish sandwich arrived before his bangers and mash, so he ate one of the battered fillets while he was waiting for his own meal to arrive, as a starter. He was gazing longingly at the table next to us who had a bowl of chips with their sandwiches, so when his sausages arrived, I ordered him some fries too – if only to keep him from stealing our neighbours’. He devoured his own bangers and mash, along with his chunky chips, so he had a large meal by anyone’s standards. He was clearly contented in there and he enjoyed stroking a stranger’s dog who was also begging for the next door table’s food, he never stopped staring at Joshua, hopeful he would drop something or at least take pity on him. Little did the dog know that Joshua was in his ‘hoover’ mode and he was not for sharing.
With a full tummy, we were able to do a little more shopping, without too much protest, though he was most excited to get back in the car to head home. Once back I tried to counter-balance the large lunch with a healthy apple, which he enjoyed too. A couple of hours later I began to prepare our evening meal and Joshua was constantly in and out of the kitchen to monitor my progress, so I was confident that he would eat it up. However, the first forkful was spat out and he left the table, going upstairs in protest. So I enjoyed mine in peace and then I broke every rule in the parenting handbook – I took him some bananas and custard for pudding – yes even though he had rejected his main course! – upstairs to his bedroom – yes, I did not insist he sat back at the table! – and he gobbled them down.
Whether he eats or not is one of the few things that Joshua can control in his life and he makes full use of this free choice, but he certainly made up for lost time yesterday.