My son the cheater

Tonight was an exceptionally great night with Bennie… With he & his brother having been at his mom’s since Friday, I was very excited to go pick them up after work and bring them back to my house. As is the norm, Ben was a bit angsty when I picked him up (transitioning is not so easy for him, plus I like to think the emotional excitement of seeing me and coming back to my place is a bit overwhelming for his senses) so he’s usually a bit loud on the drive back.

Once we got back to my house and the boys gave my fiance their big hugs and settled in for dinner, I was captivated by Bennie… He’s always a great eater, and loved the tasty GFCFSF beef veggie stew we made for the boys in the slow cooker, but the usual hyperactivity or giddiness that typically accompanies mealtime wasn’t present tonight. He wolfed his food down (per usual), but was quiet and happy while doing so. When he received his usual prompts to “eat slowly” (geez that kid can eat), he didn’t bark back as he normally does, but listened… and ate slower. He was also tickled pink to get to drink some new chocolate almond milk (2 glasses worth!)

Once dinner was done, I was so excited to surprise him with the special treat I had found for him: hemp vanilla ice cream! I’d tried every variety of non-milk ice cream I could find – rice, soy, tofu, coconut – but each would cause either physical reactions in him (rashes) or lead to emotional outbursts. I’d read about “Tempt,” a hemp-based ice cream, and knew that he had seemed to enjoy hemp milk in the past, but hadn’t been able to find this product at any of my usual shopping haunts. However, I was recently able to pick some up at Whole Foods and I was very excited to get to let Bennie try yet another type of his favorite snack food. (You wouldn’t believe how rough it is to not be able to let your kid eat ice cream – every kid should get to enjoy that simple pleasure…)

His eyes lit up, he raced over to the table with his bowl with eager anticipation, and he devoured it. Then the attentive wait began… Rash? Hyper? Screaming? I am so overjoyed to say that none of those typical symptoms appeared – the Holy Grail of GFCFSF had been found!!

Even better (icing on the proverbial cake): we also noticed that he was more communicative tonight than usual, asking questions and putting longer sentences together. For example, when I showed him the ice cream, he asked me where I got it from. Read that again: he asked me where I got it from. Could this be the (positive) effects of Respen-A (which he’s been on for 10 days now?) I hesitate to get too excited or read too much into it just yet, but it was a very positive observation nonetheless.

We then took the boys to play in the playroom, with Bennie and I playing “Headbands,” a fun thinking game I got him for Christmas in which the players put a plastic headband on their head and place a picture card in it (without looking at the image) and then ask for and respond to clues from the other players. It’s been fascinating to watch Ben’s mind work as we feed him clues and help him guess “who am I?” and then how he tries to do the same for other players. He was on fire tonight, banging out correct answers to his cards, but my proudest moment came when he wasn’t sure what card he had on his head, but had the presence of mind to lean back and look at his reflection in the glass cabinet door beside him. That amazing little bugger cheated! I cannot express how proud I was in that moment – he had the realization that he could see what the card was and then use that (cheating) edge to correctly say what card he had in his headband. I wish someone could have taken a picture of my face at that very moment – it was a mix of excitement, glee, pride and sheer exuberance.

We then went and tackled his homework – 1 sheet of simple math addition problems and 1 sheet of reading comprehension. He nailed both – more calm and focused than I think I’ve ever seen him while doing homework (no frustration or anxiety whatsoever.) I swear he was more thoughtful and engaged than usual, especially with the reading comprehension, which is never easy for him, as he can read pretty much anything, but doesn’t usually retain the knowledge of what he read… but tonight seemed different. Tonight he was able to correctly understand and assign different names under the categories of “people, pets or places.” I was proud, and amazed.

Finally, we finished the night by bouncing a plastic ball of the wall back and forth, with him knocking it out of the air and/or kicking it (usually straight at my head), and one time he even motioned for me to cover up and protect my face before he kicked the ball at about 100 miles an hour at me. Again: another indicator of Respen-A helping his brain be more cognitive? Perhaps, but another exciting observation either way.

What a fantastic, amazing evening on all levels. A happy, beautiful kid got to enjoy some tasty kid treats (chocolate milk & ice cream!), had fun (and cheated!) at a game, hit a homerun with homework, and did not display any of the too-typical outbursts of emotion we typically have to tip-toe around in an effort to avoid.

Tonight was great, truly great. Here’s to working towards a repeat tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. I’m not so deluded to expect that this will be the norm every night, but tonight proved that his anxiety and irritability are not constants, but rather seem to be reactions… So continued attentiveness to both his diet and our interactions with him can only help to make tonight more the norm.

And that is ridiculously exciting.

2 Responses to “My son the cheater”

  1. Cathy Hearn says:

    I just noticed your post about the joy Ben got out of eating Tempt ice cream; what a great story! I’m the president of Living Harvest and would love to send you some coupons. Please send a mailing address to us and we’ll put them in the mail.

    All the best to you and your family,


    • Ben's Dad says:

      Thanks again so much Cathy – coupons came this weekend and I can’t wait to let Ben know someone out there sent him a special gift to let him get even more of his favorite treat! Very much appreciated…

Leave a Reply