Today I was racing around doing errands in the two-hour time slot I have when AJ is at school and Bart is at playgroup. I was driving between looking at a house for my in-laws and Jay’s place of work when my phone rang on the seat beside me. Because I was in traffic I could not answer the phone, but could see on the screen it was AJ’s school calling… uh oh.
Upon listening to the voicemail and then calling to speak to her school teacher, I found out that because of the wet weather today break time was spent indoors and one of the teaching assistants spotted AJ eating her yoghurt. When the teachers asked she admitted it was for her lunch and she had also eaten her sandwiches and her cake as well, so she had very little left in her box to eat later. There was also other concerns with AJ and food that had happened.
AJ has issues with food. Before she was taken into foster care meal times were not structured and I don’t think she knew when she would eat next, so she is always worried about where the next meal is coming from. The last couple of months it has gotten worse. She sneaks food in the kitchen, will eat up any crumbs she finds, she has taken bites from the rabbits carrot in its hutch and eaten some of the hamster food. The bakery section in the local shop had some crumbs on the floor the other day and she went straight to them. Luckily I saw before she got them too her mouth.
Our social worker advised me to sit with her each morning and let her know the meal and snack plans for the day, which can be difficult as I often don’t know in the morning what we are having for supper that night, but it is something I am doing to help my girl. I thought this was working well until the phone call today.
AJ is only five and doesn’t understand why she does this. When asked she gets upset and cries, she knows that sneaking food is something we do not do, but at this point she is unable to control it. I know she is not hungry because she can be scanning for food as soon as she has finished her meal. It is a compulsion she has inside stemming back from those early days.
I do worry about the future with the potential of eating disorders and also other people’s perception of her. She is such an active little girls and growing so fast but who knows what will happen in ten years time. The attitude towards people with weight issues in today’s society is disgusting. A compulsion to eat is not seen as a medical issue by the general public and any one over weight is just a lazy pig and it is their own fault. Everyone is so quick to judge on visual appearance alone.
Sat in the car listening to the teacher and explaining some of AJ’s background to her it was difficult not to cry, she is so understanding and willing to work with me on helping AJ. So with the school behind us, Jay and I working together and AJ herself gaining more understanding of herself as she grows, hopefully together we can beat this and if not, find a way to learn to live with it.