Saturday, September 16, 2006

In the shadow of dead turkeys...

It was lovely to sleep in this morning... B even managed to do the opposite & wake up at 6:15, which he's been too tired to do all week, so it felt like he was meeting his needs as well :) C went to work early to do paperwork & was home in time for breakfast, which is his usual Saturday routine (unless he's on call for the weekend...). As we all sat together & had a nice family breakfast, C said that he'd thought of something important to discuss: Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving custom is to go to Pittsburgh & be with C's parents one year, & then the alternate year they visit us. When my stepfather was alive my mom had everyone over for dinner- & I mean everyone. Sometimes 25-30 people... The year before he passed away my mom found herself overwhelmed by life & asked me, the day before, to host (luckily, not the whole family, though because we just don't have the room). They cooked the turkey & brought it over, & we had 13 for dinner. With me being veggie it was a very nice thing to have them cook the bird- something I hadn't done in years. Four years ago, after my stepfather passed away, I found myself cooking a turkey for the first time in forever, & we managed... just barely. I've done it twice now, which isn't really enough times to become an expert, but we don't want to disappoint anyone (including my husband) looking forward to the traditional meal, so we muddle through.

This year, there's a new spanner in the works. Not only has B forsaken eating meat, but he can't abide being in the room with anyone who is eating meat, or to see pictures of meat, or to hear someone talk about eating meat... you get the picture. It is not at all difficult to accomodate him at home (although C has to plan his lunch-making carefully, since he does make lunchmeat sandwiches for himself) but out in public it's a different story. At the party following the Brown Jug boat race on Labour Day, B noticed that there was a crockpot of meatballs next to the pizza that he'd wanted, & lost interest in the pizza completely. It's the same at any potluck meal, so we've gotten in the habit of loading up his plate for him so he won't refuse to eat entirely. Sometimes seeing meat can lead to tremendous tics or elabourate rituals of tapping & thumping, that seem to exorcise the bad feelings he has about eating animals.

So, at breakfast C wanted us to discuss the matter of Thanksgiving dinner & how we would accomodate B's antipathy to edible animal carcasses... The first idea was to have an alternative meal, such as lasagna... but unfortunately B can't abide to be in the same room with lasagna either. I'd forgotten that he has a similar reaction to lasagna as to meat, probably because it's been months since we've had it (because of B's reaction...). This morning he did finally explain the problem with lasagna to us, though, which was very helpful. There was an aide in his class during 3rd grade that was one of his first OCD triggers (she was a lovely woman, but she happened to arrive about the time B's OCD did...) & many things associated with her, flowery perfume & shiny jackets among them, will trigger thoughts & tics for B. He told us today that she had said the word "lasagna" after they had watched the "Garfield" movie in spanish at school, & ever since then he's been triggered by lasagna. To the way my mind works, that's quite a stretch, but it really is illuminating to discover how B's mind works... & right now we simply have to accomodate his difficulties with these triggers, because there's no reasoning with them nor can you fight them. Soooo, lasagna was out for Thanksgiving. Then I suggested perhaps a quorn roast (veggie meat substitute) or tofurkey, but C thought that his parents wouldn't enjoy these & B won't eat tofu if it's shaped like meat... I then suggested a big curry meal with lots of dishes, but B didn't like the idea of that either & started to get kind of pissy... (in retrospect, maybe it's because curry has such a strong & pervasive smell). By this time B was heading toward a meltdown & we had a japanese lesson in 45 minutes, so I was feeling rather desperate. C saved the day by having Rufus begin to "fart" in B's face, distracting him with silliness. I chimed in & next thing we knew he was smiling & going to brush his teeth. C went up with B to play legos & I felt so grateful to my husband, hearing B's giggles as they continued the silliness while playing with B's lego creations. It was a joy to listen to happy sounds rather than to be riding out another meltdown...

Japanese lesson went very well. We are learning verbs now, & B can read the lessons (written in hiragana) quite fluently. He has been pretending to be a dog during some lessons, so we call him "Burendan taro" which kind of means "Brendan boy", the taro being a common dog-name. So we added his dogness to the lesson as needed. Even Rufus was speaking japanese today :) After some hard work we had a refreshing treat: we shared some imported-to-america ramune (fizzy pop) with Tomoko. She was amazed by how you open the bottle, mostly because in Japan, you buy the ramune & the shopkeeper opens it for you with a wooden device. She had never in her life opened her own ramune! I am hoping to have the wherewithal this week to practice some new sentences to use with B, adding them to our conversational repertoire. It's really the speaking of the japanese that plants it firmly in my brain, plus I often use japanese conversation to help distract B from thoughts & tics.

After a somewhat busy day, B fell to sleep quickly as I read to him. C & I sat down to discuss our day, & the Thanksgiving discussion, & came to the conclusion that the best way to cope with the lack of turkey this Thanskgiving would be to have all the accompaniments... but leave out the turkey. We can have some fried tofu or beanloaf for anyone feeling protein-deprived. C even suggested that he take his parents out to lunch that day & tell them to get their fill of meat :) We like to invite friends for holiday meals, & we know that our true friends will understand our perhaps odd Thanksgiving provisions this year. The main thing for me is that B feel comfortable sharing this family holiday with us.


At 9:57 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

I fear I would be a problem for B, being a self-professed meat-a-holic. That's an interesting dynamic to have to deal with, though, given how omnipresent meat is in our society.

To Love, Honor and Dismay

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Kristina Chew said...

This post has been helpful for me to read----regarding Charlie's own food issues (throwing food, that is). I think he has certain associations with certain foods (even containers that the food is in) and that sets him off. So far, no reaction to meat!


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