Big's first week of school he came home so excited that his school offered Rice Milk. He loved that he could have milk with his friends.
Mom sense 1 went off. *weird that a school offers rice milk, huh, but it's a trend setting school in the city where all sorts of opportunities are offered. Maybe it is true.
Big was really sensitive about not getting enough play time after he came home from school. He was really whiny! Really, really, whiny. He would throw a fit and say he hated that he didn't have enough time to play.
Mom sense 2 went off. *Completely understandable watching my son adjust to his new schedule, and he doesn't have as much time play, but man is he whinny. Really, really whinny.
Big took a shower and I came to inspect the job not done. His hair was clearly not washed and I asked him to rewash it. He yelled at me that he wasn't lying and why don't I ever believe him. I'm so rude to not believe him when he is telling the truth. He was so upset it drove him to yells and tears. He wouldn't rewash his hair, so I did it for him. We had a not so nice moment, and I was frustrated by his response.
Mom sense 3 went off. *Being a person who struggled with lying before, I get how frustrating it is to tell someone something and have them not believe you because you past has influenced the present. It's frustrating and the consequence to one very bad choice of sins to commit. I get it. But tears? Really? When you get to play in the water some more, you really have to cry over that? It felt a little too much to me and there was no distracting him in it.
For a whole week Big was really struggling with the morning get ready check list and his responsiblities after school. Very easy, normal kid things. However, when I would remind him of his responsiblities of emptying out his backpack, putting his lunch bag away, taking off his uniform, he was distant, frustrated and had his walls up. He told me being home was no fun and he didn't like responsiblities, even though I have seen him thrive doing it at school.
Mom sense 4 went off. *Everything was starting to feel broken. Adjusting to a new schedule, dad has a new job, life has changed and we are starting to realize that its for good, but all this disconnect felt wrong. I understand that my children have their own life, needs, desires, joys, hurts, but I didn't feel like our relationship should be so strained so early as we navigate being a bigger more responsible kid as a kindergardener.
Then I volunteered to read for Big's class two weeks ago in the morning during teacher prep time. I watched my son put a clothes pin in his pocket on the board. I asked the music teacher what that meant. She explained to me that one pin was for hot lunch and one was for milk. I told her we didn't do any, so he shouldn't be putting a pin in his slot. She told me that if the pin was there, he would recieve it and our account would be charged. There was some more conversation about it and I was left slightly confused. I emailed the teacher, who only speaks Chinese in front of the students so email is the only way to communicate. I asked her to explain the system to me, and told her that beyond Big bringing his own snack, he couldn't have milk. It makes him sick.
*Yes I do define being emotionally and mentally out of control as being sick. His body can't handle it. It makes him crazy and steals our son replacing him with someone else.
The teacher than explained to me that at snack time they always offer milk, and Big has always raised his hand, so he has recieved it. For two and half weeks, he has had a glass of milk every day.
Ahhhhhhh.....and that explains alot.
I remember one morning specifically, I was taking Big to school and we had a fight. I hate fighting, even more fighting and then taking my son to school to be with other people for the whole day. I was loosing my day to make it right. To have good time with him and repair what was broken. And it was broken. There was yelling, words exchanged that shouldn't be on both ends. Frustration, hurt and pain was our morning, and now I was saying goodbye for the day. He would be left with brokeness for the day instead of love and encouragement.
Oh how I hated this! It felt so wrong and I didn't know what to do. In the evenings when we had time together, there would be good moments, but mostly he was just frustrated by all he had to do, or we were never doing the thing he wanted and so he was upset. Everything started to feel like a battle again. Every word, every action, every activity, every direction. All of it felt hard.
I talked to Big and his teacher and explained that he couldn't have milk. I told Big that his teacher didn't understand anything about Rice milk and I would send some to school with him, but he can't have the school's milk. I had all the players in the game on board now.
It took one week to get it out of his system. Then we had this weekend. My son woke up and offered to help make breakfast. I only asked once for him to get dressed. The shower senerio repeated itself and even though he was annoyed with me for the hair issue, I suggested that we experiment. If he rewashes his hair we'll see if it smells like shampoo and if it does that we know he didn't wash it before. I told him I'll sing the ABC's and when I'm done he can be done. He looked at me, said he was annoyed and then said, I can beat you before you're done. The challenge was on. This felt good. This felt right. This felt like my son. He could communicate what he was thinking. He could be annoyed but still play a game with me.
And there was no fight.
There was no challenge.
It was not hard.
I'm not saying that he is perfect. FAR from it. He is still emotional. He is still independant and has hard time focusing on projects he doesn't want to do. He is a normal kid with his own thoughts and emotions.
However, I still can't believe how much food affects him and his behavior. I can't believe how much it breaks us. How it keeps Big from being himself.
For about two weeks, one week for sure, our whole system felt broken. It felt off, and way to hard, but mostly just broken.
Once we knew he had milk and we fixed it, I just kept thinking about all the families who live in this broken place. A place where everything is hard. At every turn you are faced with a challenge. Being with your child is no longer a joy. You start to blame yourself for all thier outbursts, or worse, you start to blame them. A place where the only times you have together are difficult ones and it broke my heart.
I now stand as a big believer that the food we eat has drastically changed and in my very humble opionion it is effecting not just us but especially our next generation. I struggle with my anger and frustration at the food industry for all the way they changed the things we put in our body. You tell me why sugar needs to be in lunch meat? Tell me why yogurt needs to be neon bright?
I'll table this for now, but one of my greatest heartaches right now is watching children and families living in brokeness due to the food that we consume. The anger, guilt, shame, frustration, disappointement that is happeneing because children are being imprisioned by the food they eat.
My greatest joy though is watching moms facing this choice and choosing to try eating allergen free and experiencing thier kids being freed from thier prison. It is hard to do, but I can't stress enough....
It is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, worth it. (did I get enough so's in there? I hope so.)
*Let's throw a disclaimer in there for good measure. I understand with my whole heart that there are other real issues that can effect kids and families. That life circumstances still highly effect families even on a healthy diet. I understand that kids, and adults, can't respond in a healthy way every time something frustrating happens. What I am saying is that I think what we eat and put in our bodies deserves a credible place in the solution to solving all the brokeness. It is ligitimate and a very real thing to change your diet to effect your mood and happiness.