Last week we had our first follow-up appointment with the doctor who’s Changed Everything. To recap, we went to see her in lieu of setting up a juvenile defense fund for our 8-year-old son, or perhaps building him an in-law apartment.
This doctor thinks the Pterodactyl has an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, and casein, which is a dairy protein – and as a bonus, she says he is deficient in a slew of vitamins and minerals. #CHEETOSDONTMAKEAMEAL
But apparently a month makes a difference in this business.
In the four weeks since we’ve gone gluten- and dairy-free, the Pterodactyl has gained half an inch and lost four pounds. He has started doing his homework voluntarily for the first time EVER. And we’re seeing a gradual improvement in his ability to verbalize his frustrations. Last week, for example, he explained to me why he hates bathing: he doesn’t like being cold when he gets out of the tub or shower. And I was all, DUH! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! So I bought him a space heater, and now he smells clean on an almost regular basis.
In addition to the diet, he takes a boatload of supplements – Vitamin D, a probiotic, something else, maybe elephant tusk shavings, for all I know. Hot Firefighter Husband understands it all so I don’t have to. The pills are ginormous, and the boy swallows them down twice a day with barely a flinch; he knows they help him feel better.
The whole family dynamic has changed. Since the Pterodactyl isn’t the beast he once was, we aren’t so desperate to get away from him – so we don’t need babysitters as often. We have more family dinners, and I AM COOKING STUFF FROM SCRATCH! I SWEAR TO JULIA CHILD! Last week I made an apple-chocolate chip coffee cake that was UNBELIEVABLE. Obviously we have not cut out sugar.
Dr. B was very excited for us, but since I perennially see the glass as half-empty, I emphasized that we still have a journey in front of us. “I get very frustrated,” I said. “I’m impatient, and I lose my temper.”
“Well, listen,” she said. “You’ve been through a lot with this child. Sometimes you might be reacting to memories of his previous behavior. It’s like you have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”
I practically screeched, I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! I KNEW I NEEDED A SERVICE DOG! See, I TOTALLY need Buddy the Wonder Dog to help me overcome my PTSD! I’m going to train him to do that as soon as he stops eating socks. Buddha certainly works in mysterious ways.
We left Dr. B’s office pretty optimistic, with Husband thinking she’s an underrated genius for finding out what’s wrong with our son, and me cautiously hopeful but still a little skeptical, because the whole gluten-free thing seems sort of voguish and genteel, a mere health fad like chia seeds and the Master Cleanse. I used to roll my eyes at people like me.
BUT THEN. I took the children to a birthday party Saturday afternoon at a park. When we arrived, the picnic tables were decorated with bowls of snacks – pretzels, Goldfish, and crackers. I think. I’m not sure. I just saw giant neon GLUTEN signs illuminated everywhere. The Pterodactyl, his little sister and some friends immediately found a hiding place at the park and began shuttling armfuls of GLUTEN there as though they were stocking up for the apocalypse.
Bummer. Also, it was wicked cold outside, and nobody had brought a corkscrew for the wine, and I had already finished off the contents of my pre-emptive go-cup. I was feeling very unfestive.
The situation worsened. Because halfway through the party, the Gluten Discs with Melted Casein arrived. Pizza, you regular people call it. Dr. B would call it a poison festival.
“Mom, please, can I have some pizza?” the Pterodactyl pleaded.
“Honey, I don’t think you should,” I said. “Please don’t.” See, I’m not all patchouli-smelling and hairy-legged. I want my kid to fit in. So I asked him nicely, but did not act like an Enforcer.
“Okay,” he said. Then he snuck two or four pieces back to his hideout and snarfed them down like cocaine.
The party ended
not soon enough, and we shuttled home, where Hot Firefighter Husband was preparing dinner just as hell began freezing over. We enjoyed a pleasant family dinner with some lengthy discussions about feces, butts, and what it means to POP SOME TAGS. I hope Bono forgives me for liking that Thrift Shop song, but damn, it’s catchy.
Soon after dinner, the Pterodactyl began to shift from 8-year-old boy into child-sized Mephistopheles. The transformation began with casual obstinance. It progressed into near psychosis. This child was utterly incapacitated – flinging Legos around the room, digging his nails into my arms, screaming, barely able to stand up. He head-butted me whenever he could. He shouted nonsense at us. Honestly, I didn’t rule out taking him to the hospital to be sedated.
Husband and I kept looking at each other, slack-jawed. We could not understand why our son had shapeshifted from hilarious trickster to rabid warthog in the span of an hour or so.
Near 11 p.m., as he slumped facedown on his bed, heaving in exhaustion, I figured it out. “The pizza,” I said to Husband. “It must be the pizza.”
The regression lasted into the next day, and finally began abating mid-afternoon. By that time, I was a convert. DIE, GLUTEN, DIE. If you’re even a living organism. I have no idea.
I can tell you this, though. We are a gluten-free, dairy-free household for good. Roll your eyes at me if you want; this mama cares not. But don’t go slipping my kid a cookie. If you do, I will TAKE. YOU. DOWN. Or maybe make you sit with him for day or so.
Either way, you’re likely to get hurt.