Seven days in, I woke up in a hotel room in New York after dropping Isaac off at music camp the day before. On my phone there was a text from the Good Doctor with this photo:
The Good Doctor found this half-eaten roll on the floor of Victor's room, along with a confession. Yes, Victor had eaten half of it and then for some reason, ditched the rest on the floor. In plain sight. The Good Doctor told me that he was already noticing more crankiness from Victor.
By the time I arrived home three hours later, Victor had moved beyond crankiness to animalistic and violent behaviors. He was banging things and when the items were removed he threw fits like we hadn't seen before. Definitely some of the worst behaviors we've seen. He threw a child's chair and broke it. He repeatedly lifted and banged a kitchen chair up and down. At one point, after I took away kitchen utensils that he was banging on the steps, he sat and rocked and screamed for several minutes, completely inconsolable.
After this episode, I sat on the floor and held him and asked, "Victor, do you remember that piece of bread you ate this morning?" "Yes," he replied. "Victor, that piece of bread is why you are acting like this." He thought a moment and announced, "It was sooooooooo yummy!"
Yummy it might have been but at supper I told the whole family in no uncertain terms that the next time someone leaves a banned substance in an easy-to-find-and-reach location, I would lock that person and Victor in a room together for the rest of the day so they would know what I went through today.*
Another day we were shocked to find Victor quietly sitting on the floor playing with play-doh. He had never initiated this kind of play on his own before. However, we are finding more and more that he can tolerate longer periods of creative play with toys such as Duplos, Bristle Blocks, and magnets. It isn't just banging all day, every day. The play-doh, however, needed to be confiscated when we found Victor sneaking bites of it. Homemade play-doh, after all, is made from flour. When asked what he was doing, Victor told us, "I NEED the salt!" Salt in play-doh, yes. Flour, no.
We have been pleased to find so many benefits of Victor's diet. The 8 hour round trip to pick Isaac up from camp resulted in just one episode of yelling and screaming instead of the continual screaming and defiance we've had on every other road trip. He snuggles more. Plays piano and drums more purposefully. Listens to story after story without repeated reminders to sit down. He sits down for a whole meal rather than spinning in the kitchen while we eat. He doesn't bump into things like a human pin-ball machine. Instead, he is able to calmly move from place-to-place.
And our picky eater is slowly trying new foods and finding new, approved foods to eat.
We're halfway there. In three weeks we can start to slowly reintroduce foods and see whether or not they affect his behavior. Thanks to that half a piece of roll episode, we already know that gluten is an issue. And after a few episodes of dairy ingestion, we also know that this is a trigger. We'll see what else we find.
Even Victor knows there is a difference. He talks about his special diet and comments on times he was mean and then how kind he is now. He has to feel so much better inside. The constant shopping and cooking are well worth the time investment.
*Note to all mandated reporters: This is a joke. I would not lock Victor and another child in a room for a day. I only said this to make the point that I never, ever again want to experience a day like that. We have not, and will not, lock children in their rooms. Ever. Even when they feed Victor banned foods. Even when they throw chairs at me.