Writing a Naked Truth post is never easy, that’s the point of my writing them. They are usually about my kids, and today’s subject, Vanilla and Aspergers, is one I’ve visited often. This weekend I was reminded just how hard this can all be, and just how much my child (all of 11 years old) can surprise me.
This weekend was Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year, depends which PC idea you feel like being up to date with), so we took Sprinkles down to the International District for the festival. Which as it turned out was very lame. I hate to say that but it was. One area with performers (not on a stage so we couldn’t see anything), and one tent of craft activities. And that was it….this is the second time we’ve been disappointed by going to a cultural event in this district.
We figured Sprinkles would want Chinese food, which she of course adores, and we’d have to look for something Vanilla is willing to eat. Different food and trying new things are not what he is fond of doing. We ended up going for Italian for lunch and then having Chinese for dinner at home. As I always do, I ordered Sesame Chicken. I never stray from my known entity (and maybe Vanilla is just a wee bit more like me than I thought in this area). Vanilla had chicken nuggets I think.
At the end of dinner we tried to convince Vanilla to try the chicken. It’s good, we said, it’s sweet. I promised him ice cream, going out for milkshakes, even that I’d tell him a super-awesome secret if he tried three itty bitty bites of Sesame Chicken.
He wasn’t having any of it.
This is the really, really hard part about a child with Aspergers (or in our case having a child with Aspergers traits and behaviors but not actually meeting the Aspergers criteria for therapies). He’s stubborn, dedicated to his cause of never trying anything new, especially when it comes to food. He lives on cheese sandwiches, Cheezit’s, fruit snacks, Rice Crispies and yogurt (vanilla only!) and pizza, hotdogs, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Eating chicken is a battle. This kid would make any parent want to cave and never struggle to get him to try anything new.
But as his mom, I have to try, because I know if he would just be willing to try something he might find he actually likes it.
He certainly surprised me earlier on Saturday. After lunch we stopped y the REI store downtown. At the store they have a rock climbing structure called the Pinnacle. It’s not exactly for the faint of heart. It’s tall, and steep, and complicated.
My Vanilla wants to climb it.
He’s never climbed anything before. This is a child who won’t have anything to do with horses, has never expressed any real interest in outdoor or physical activities. He wants to climb the Pinnacle. They were full that day but next weekend, Vanilla, Papa and myself are all climbing the pinnacle. The 65 foot high Pinnacle. I don’t like heights, in fact it’s safe to say I’m afraid of them. but this boy of mine wants to do this, so scared or not, I’m going to do it with him.
Three little bites of Sesame Chicken.
Vanilla decided to flip a coin. Best 2/3 then he’d try the chicken. He flipped. It landed. Three bites of chicken were put on his plate. He ate them. He liked them. He earned the telling of the super-awesome secret.
This entire struggle over three little bitty bites of something new. It wasn’t about the chicken. It was about trying something out of his comfort zone. And he did it. That’s why I’ll be at his side cheering him on next week. That’s why I’ll step up to the Pinnacle and climb. Because when this kid wants to try something new, I want to experience it with him.