Kiran has a plethora of suckers. I keep them in a container in the large basket that is always on our dining room table. They are prominently displayed in the hope I will use them on a regular basis. They are great for getting him to move his tongue, an important aspect of oral eating. He likes licking suckers.
I end up throwing a lot of them away. In fact, I just did a giant purge of suckers recently, because between the 4th of July parade and Halloween, not to mention his Easter basket, we had a lot.
And they were getting old.
Tonight, in that time between his free water and blended meal, both given through his g-tube, I let him choose one. Well, to be fair, he was exhausted after communicating during speech therapy this evening, so Eric ended up choosing one for him. He indulged for awhile, eager to taste something he hasn’t had in awhile. At one point, I asked him if he was all done, and he immediately took his chewy necklace out of his mouth with one hand and reached for the sucker with the other, mouth agape.
I took that to mean he was not, in fact, all done. I love when he is so intentional with his communication and motivated by something as simple as a sucker.
I hate that I end up throwing so much food away, and suckers are no exception. And I don’t just mean when I purge his overflowing stash. I mean, he licks it for awhile, and I make his tongue muscles work, and it doesn’t make a dent. He can’t safely have the sucker – he doesn’t really know how to suck on something, and he would likely bite into it – that wouldn’t be a safe bite for him to attempt to swallow. We don’t need that kind of excitement, especially on a Thursday evening.
But I realized today – so what? Regardless of whether I throw most of the sucker away now, after engaging with him and giving him this experience or if I throw the entire sucker away several months from now because it’s been sitting in the same place for far too long….I’m still wasting the sucker.
Only – it’s not a waste if Kiran gets to enjoy it. It’s not a waste if his tongue gets a workout and it inevitably progresses him toward oral eating skills. Whether it’s a few licks or a few bites, I need to be giving Kiran these experiences more. I’ve fallen off the routine, and it’s time to get back to it.
So – we’ll be over here having a sucker – probably not every night – but at least twice a week. Working through his stash, enjoying the licks he takes, and tossing the rest. And then we’ll buy more and keep going.
After all, it’s the only kind of candy Kiran can really safely enjoy – and every kid deserves to have some candy every now and then.