The decision to remove Owen from this pre-school was not without warrant. I contacted his former teacher, Miss Eleina, and asked her to please tell me what was going on in Owen's class. The classes had made some changes a month or two before Miss Eleina left. She had moved down to the 2-3 year old class where Ella-Belle had just been moved up to. A new teacher was hired for the 3-4 class that Owen was in. Owen's class was very unbalanced; there was only 1 girl, the rest were very rumbustious little boys. The new teacher had no control. She spent so much time correcting these little boys that she didn't notice that Owen was hiding in a corner, covering his ears.
Because Owen and Ella-Belle's dad is a lazy bum, I was able to leave them home with him while I worked until I could find a new pre-school for them. After about 6 weeks I was able to get them into the pre-school they attend now. I met with the administrator and toured the center. I knew people who took their children there, so I was comfortable leaving my kids there. One issue that I voiced my concern about was how this center provided lunch for the children. Most people would think the food this place served was amazing; I know I did. I wanted to eat lunch there myself. The concern I had was that Owen was a VERY picky eater. Lunch was not included at his former center; we always packed, so this was never a concern. The administrator assured me that they have dealt with this issue before and they found that the more they offered the child the foods they didn't care for, the more likely they were to eventually try it and end up liking it. She stressed that if they allowed one child to pack, then the other children would decide they didn't like the school's food and want to pack too, which would cause problems for the cook. I thought this made sense, so I agreed to give it a try.
The issue of Owen and his eating habits have always been a cause of arguments between his dad and I. I have always been a fan of "If they're hungry, they'll eat." His dad is more of the "Why do you let my kids always starve?" type of person. OK, first of all, I work 10-12 hours a day and I don't get home until 9:00pm every night...give me one good reason why the hell YOU didn't feed him before I got home?? UGH!!! Sorry, different blog post;)
At any rate, every day when their dad would pick them up from pre-school, he wouldn't ask Owen or Ella-Belle what they did at school; he would only ask Owen if he ate and what he ate. Then, he would call me at work and tell me that he was not going to let me take Owen back there if they were going to keep starving him. I tried explaining to him that they were feeding him, Owen was the one choosing not to eat. This went on for 8 months. Then Owen met his favorite lunch-lady of all times.
Miss Rhonda replaced the old cook. She immediately sensed that Owen was a special little kid. If he sat and stared at his plate, she would make him a bologna sandwich. We started chatting more and more in the mornings, and she would tell me about Owen's behavior at lunch. She said he would just sit there and drink his milk. He wouldn't even taste his food unless it was chicken nuggets, fish sticks, grilled cheese, a hot dog, or bologna. If they served anything with spaghetti or tomato sauce on it, he would pull his shirt up over his nose to cover up the smell. She asked me what he would and wouldn't eat so she would know what to make him ahead of time. She was wonderful! She gave him spaghetti noodles with no sauce (which he chows down like a pig!) and when they had tacos, she would keep some ground beef separate for him with no seasoning on it. He would only eat apples, so she always replaced his fruit serving with sliced apples. Owen was eating and things were great, until the administrator caught wind of what she was doing. She was told that Owen was to eat what the other children eat unless he had a note from the doctor. The sad thing was, this had nothing to do with Owen; this was a power struggle for the administrator. Her toes were being stepped on and she didn't like it.
Lucky for Owen, his doctor likes him! I took him in for an appointment and told him what was going on. I had voiced some concerns to him before about Owen's odd behaviors, but Owen always acted like a normal kid at the doctor. He would talk and giggle with his doctor, so it made it harder to get my concerns across. The doctor said he would write whatever I wanted; he thought it was ridiculous to starve him too. It was on this visit that I asked if we could be referred to some kind of therapy for Owen. He was going to be starting Kindergarten soon, and I couldn't see him being able to function in a school setting. He agreed to set him up with someone because Owen's issues were beyond his field of expertise. He also wrote a note that said he had an intolerance to tomato-based sauces. He said he didn't want to do any invasive testing to see if he had reflux, and cutting out tomato sauce wouldn't hurt him.
I took the note to the administrator and explained to her that the doctor had written it that way to cover the broad range of Owen's food intolerance, but there could be others as well, we would just have to decide for ourselves. She read the note and said, "So, he can't have Ketchup either then."
Fuck. I didn't even think about Ketchup being a tomato based sauce! The kid eats Ketchup, A-1, and Frank's Red Hot sauce on everything. He won't eat a bologna sandwich or a hot dog without Ketchup. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck.
"No, he can have Ketchup, he doesn't have a problem with that for some reason." I said, praying she would just drop it.
Stay tuned to see if Owen got his Ketchup...