Yesterday morning I got up bright and early to prepare for a big morning of Ali things! I got Madi off to school and had Ali dressed, fed and medicated by 8:30 so that I could make a phone call about her new wheelchair before heading out for the morning. After making my phone call, I checked Ali’s blood sugar, gave her a snack and we headed to a therapy session at the gymnastics club. From there, we went to the drug store to pick up Ali’s prescriptions and then it was time for another snack. Ali has hypoglycemia and at the request of her Endocrinologist, she eats a high protein/high fat snack every ninty minutes to keep her sugars in a normal range. I checked her sugars in the car, put on a band aid and headed into McDonald’s, Greek yogurt in hand to get a juice and a coffee and feed Ali. Ali loves going to McDonald’s! She just adores sitting and watching what’s going on around her. It’s rather distracting! So, I’m happy to let her sit and look while I shovel the yogurt in to her mouth. After only an hour and a half, she’s never hungry, despite the state of her blood sugar so she rarely self feeds anymore. We’re sitting and she’s looking around smiling and I’m drinking coffee and happily shovelling the food into her mouth and life is great. Then suddenly I have a lady standing next to me telling me that she’s too old for me to feed her and that if I don’t do it, eventually she’ll get hungry and learn to feed herself. Well, thanks for the advice lady, I never thought of that! What’s funny, is that I’m sure this lady thought she was probably about 2 when she’s actually 5! Now in the grand scheme of things, that’s not really that horrible of a thing to say and it actually sounds like a reasonable plan if you’re not Ali’s mom, but what I don’t understand is why people give unsolicited advice to strangers in McDonald’s? Maybe I’m too sensitive? Don’t answer that because I know I am. But I don’t understand how people can look at other parents, who they’ve never met and feel like they need to give unsolicited advice? Support, kind words, a sympathetic glance, sure! But I think parenting advice is a little much. I struggle every day with Ali’s feeding issues. We struggle with balance. Allowing her to feel hungry to help with self-feeding versus the need to eat often to avoid low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia vs excess weight gain that can cause worsening heart issues and the social implications of getting chubby in order to keep her sugars up. Our feeding team tells us never to push food yet our endocrine team tells us that she has to eat every hour and a half! It’s very complicated. Maybe I should have asked this helpful lady how exactly one successfully feeds a high fat diet to a child that needs to eat often yet is never hungry and has an affinity for vomiting while keeping them skinny due to heart issues when they don’t actually grow upward much????? Something tells me, she wouldn’t have had the answer. No one does. I have to document blood sugars for endocrine so I am actually held accountable for my actions when it comes to feeding my child. There are multiple therapists that monitor her progress on self-feeding and chewing, which also in a way holds me accountable. That’s makes it more stressful. Now, obviously I can’t expect a stranger in McDonald’s to know all of this which is why I wonder how people feel like they are in the position to give such advice?
I’m not actually that upset by this. I felt like writing a blog post anyways and I’ve had much more cringe worthy conversations. It’s always a little tricky when someone asks how old she is (insert awkward pause) or inquires if we think she’ll get hair before she’s two (she’s 5), I’ve been asked if she changed my stance on prenatal testing (no she didn’t), I’ve been used as an example of why you shouldn’t smoke when you’re pregnant (I’ve never smoked anything) and I’ve had a conversation about how lucky I am that she’ll never become an independent adult (because that’s what we all want for our kids? She’s life limited, one day she will be gone but no, she won’t be independent). So I’m well versed in awkward conversations which is why I simply thanked the lady for the advice and shovelled another spoonful of food into Ali’s mouth while smiling at her. Then I went in the car and cried (no biggie – remember I said I’m too sensitive). It’s all good now. It’s another reminder to me to try really hard not to judge what I see because I don’t know everyone’s story. It’s hard sometimes to remember not to judge so a reminder’s always good.