There are only two things that Parker loves in this world: Food and rated-R movies.
We noticed we had a problem when I would bring home two gigantic Costco pizzas to feed our entire family and Parker would claim one for himself.
He would defend his actions by yelling, “I’m the biggest one in the family!”
It’s not true.
Even if it were true, he minimizes anyone else’s need/want for food because their body has “grown” less than his. It should not be a surprise that this only becomes a problem when we have fun food, like pizza, icecream, chips, etc.
He’s never hulked out over carrots or apples.
Let me back up. There is a serious component to this. My ex-husband, Parker’s biological father, was a hardcore drug addict. Therefore, Parker is genetically hardwired toward addiction. His reaction for soda was the first time we really saw it.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including their soda. I had never seen a 3L of Coca-Cola until we moved to Texas. I found it hilarious in a shocking way that they make such a thing.
Well, it was a sight of beauty for Parker, and he would walk/skateboard to the neighborhood Walmart to cram his backpack with gigantic sodas. He did this so much that the weight of all that soda broke the straps off of multiple backpacks. He would cry and steal to get his hands on money for soda. It was ridiculous and it was disgusting.
That was four years ago, and he’s moved through various obsessions. Right now, it’s movies and food. To remedy the problem and teach him some independence, we put together a plan that would help his food issues and teach him some life skills.
We decided to give Parker a food budget of $200 per month. He would learn to budget his money, meal plan, and prepare his own food. He was supposed to clean any dishes he used, keep his food in a cooler and stock it with ice to make sure his food stays safe to eat. He was also supposed to stay out of the family food that everyone else eats.
Parts of the plan has been successful. He has cooked for himself more than in his entire life. He has made multiple trips to the grocery store, picks his own food items (with encouragement), and even pushes his own shopping cart.
However, parts of the plan have not been so fruitful. Parker signed a contract stating he would not take from the family food. The penalty for doing so was a $20 fine. The first few times we caught him thieving family food he managed to cry his way out of the fine.
I’ve also gotten really adept at filling the cooler with ice because he is too cheap to spend the $1.50 every few days to make sure his food stay fresh.
And his track record of cleaning up the kitchen afterward is… yet to be established.
We started this program right before Bryce came home from his mission, so even though Parker is feeding his own face I haven’t fully enjoyed the benefits of one less mouth.
I enjoy those moments when Parker shows me respect because he recognizes I know more about cooking than he does. Over the past two months he’s learned how to make ribs, chicken thighs, pasta, rice, oatmeal, eggs, stir fry, and hamburgers.
It’s been quality time spent with him as he watches what I do and follows along saying, “Wow, Mom, you’re really good at cooking.”
Another positive from this is that he is recognizing that name brand things are more expensive. If we get soda, it’s usually a case from Costco and we typically do it for birthdays or celebrations. Parker wanted to buy his own Dr. Pepper, but it’s a lot more expensive than its weird, generic cousin, Dr. Perky, at the Food Lion grocery store. Dr. Perky costs only $.69, and yes, that was not lost on Parker.
My favorite part of this transitional situation is that the pressure is off of me to feed this endlessly hungry child. The responsibility is on him now. We are helping him to develop the necessary skills to feed himself for a lifetime.
How great it will be when he’s an adult capable of feeding himself, and riding the bus, and paying his bills. And how great it will be when that all happens somewhere else.
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