Haven’t You Ever Seen a Kid with Holes in his Shirt?
So my son chews his shirts. So what? I laugh now because I didn’t always think this way.
He started out innocently enough when he was little and started to chew his shirts. Some days there would be just little chew marks with this little dried “crunchy” spot by the collar. Other days he would come home from school and look like he was in a fight and half his collar would be ripped straight off his shirt. It would make me nuts. I remember my thoughts at the time:
“Why was he doing this? Did I take away his NUK too soon? He didn’t seem to care at the time..”
“Am I not feeding him enough???” (the thought of me possibly starving him so he has to now eat his shirts?!?!?! What kind of mother does this to their kid???)
I remember asking his teachers about it and his OT (Occupational Therapist) and they said his sensory needs were possibly not being met. I bought Chewy sticks in every color, chewy necklaces, bracelets and even a $75 purple elephant that looked like a pen and jiggled in his mouth.
When I’d see him chewing the shirt I’d ask him if he wanted the chewy instead and pull the shirt out of his mouth and slip the chewy in real quick like a magician. I thought I was pretty slick but as soon as I’d turned around the shirt would be back in there.
Material didn’t matter either. Polyester, cotton, whatever – he didn’t seem to have a preference.
The OTs would say he was “seeking with his mouth for sensory stuff” and he might need something with BIG flavor or super crunchy. He could eat the crunchiest of Cheetos and crush a Jolly Rancher in one bite but nothing ever seemed to work. He always went back to his shirts.
So here we are at 11 years old and he still chews his shirts! Ha! I laugh because I think back on all the misery it’s caused me over the years and all of the money I’ve spent on dressing him and you know what? All of this was (and is) out of my control but I allowed it to make me crazy and cause me such angst. My thoughts:
I’m not doing enough to help him. How do these other mothers do this? Will people think I dress him like that when we leave the house in the morning? What if he still does this when he’s 20???
You know the thoughts I’m talking about. The ones where you doubt yourself and what you are doing to help and wondering whether it’s making it worse.
The thing is, I have no control over this. The years of OT haven’t helped, different material hasn’t helped and all I do is make him feel bad about himself when I yell at him for ruining a shirt. He looks at me with this sad look and says he’s sorry. It’s out of his control too.
So now if he wants to chew a shirt, I don’t care. I’ve asked him to chew the very bottom of it. It’s a little less noticeable and it’s an easy compromise to something neither one of us can control.
Now I focus on what I can control and those are my thoughts. He’s going to grow up and do great things in this world and yes, he will probably do it while he’s chewing his shirt and SO WHAT?
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