The Food Thing

You may have heard that foster kids sometimes have food issues. This is true in our home, especially with our youngest, Z. In the early days, he would store food in his mouth, like a chipmunk. He doesn’t do that anymore, but here we are 7 years later, and in many ways still dealing with “The Food Thing.”

Most days I can take it with a grain of salt. Never in these 7 years have the kids gone without food. But I can understand that for them, you just don’t know. So there are mornings that I’ll wake up and find Z wandering in the kitchen. Or when cleaning his room I’ll find candy wrappers and empty chip bags hidden in a drawer or under his pillow. Ok, that’s typical of a lot of kids, you say. But you probably don’t have this:

“Can I have a snack?” Eat. Walk away. Repeat 40 times a day.

What gets annoying is that around here ya gotta be fast, or you’ll miss out on the good stuff. The other night while having s’more’s on the patio with my sister’s family, I went to the table to make my first one.  “Who ate all the chocolate?”

“I didn’t,” said everyone, while Z disappeared into the house. Then we spent the next 5 minutes counting what we ate on our fingers to figure out how much he ate, which was like 17 snack size Hershey bars. I, unfortunately, had none. That’ll teach me to wait around here when there’s yummy goodness out on the table.

But the culmination happened this week, as I realized we will never be the Latte family who looks all cute and put-together. Upon leaving the grocery store, one of them, (I don’t even remember who, it all happened so fast), insisted they were so hungry they just had to have a banana, right then and there, even though we literally live a one minute car ride from the store.

As we exit the store, I open the bag, and like baby vultures, they each grab a banana. Here I am, 3 kids in tow, standing next to a trash can while one after the other unwraps a banana for dear life and shoves it in their mouth. Z’s mouth is so full his cheeks bulge and white banana is protruding partly out of his lips like a Play Doh press.  As I take in a hover view of all of us, I am aware that we look like a starving family who just got some spare change and the first thing we got were these bananas! Around here that is not such an uncommon sight, so I embrace it and stand patiently until they are done and we can get on with our lives.

Maybe one day my children will realize that there will always be enough food here. Not because we are such great people, but because they have a Heavenly Father who promises He will always provide them food. Until they understand that, we will just keep the food coming, wherever we are. And I’ll learn to eat a little quicker.

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We’re treading in teenage waters. Never has that been clearer than since we’ve started our 5th year of home school.  Suddenly our usually sweet, agreeable, cheery daughter has become grumpy, snippy and elusive.  Yesterday there were tears.  She desperately wants to go to public school.

We started home schooling three years into this, and continue to home school to bond as a family: Period.  It wasn’t so we could wear skirts and study creation, although those things may be nice. It was because we wanted to make up for the years lost as a family who didn’t raise their children from infancy and heal the ramifications of the years before us.  If only she could understand that.  But all she wants is to go to public school, because that’s what other teenagers do.

When did she start becoming independent? When did she stop buying all my rhetoric and agreeing with every thought I had? I consider us blessed that we had any time like that, considering at 6, when she came home to us, she let us know she was in charge. God willing though, she allowed herself to become a daughter and buy in to all that we did.

No matter how or when it happens, it is hard to accept when you’re child has ideas that are different from what you know is best for them. It is even harder to move them off of those ideas when they have no experience or life lessons behind them.

So for now, the conversation about school remains open and Pia strives for independence; for ideas that are hers alone. Which is probably why at lunch today she said it was a “temptation” to want to eat the dog food. We tried to sway her away from the idea, but when she insisted, J.R. told her to go ahead. She triumphantly got a piece from the garage for herself, and one for Z, who will pretty much do anything. Popping it into her mouth, she proclaimed, “It’s delicious,” with a smirk on her face. Suddenly her face turned wide-eyed with a look of horror, as she got up from the table and dashed to the bathroom. Maybe it wasn’t a good time, but we took the opportunity anyway to point out that maybe she should listen to us once in a while.  Z, well, he remained un-phased and kept on eating his lunch.