I can barely stand how quickly he is growing up. A few short weeks away from five.
First, it was eczema. Then came the wheezing. A few episodes of wheezing, one of which led to our diagnosis of Asthma, followed by the growth of an allergy to dogs, and now?
Now there is something else. Well, there is at least one other something else. Maybe two.
A few weeks ago, Alex was complaining about an itchy scalp. With his eczema, it’s no surprise that he would be itchy in various places. I pilfered through his hair, just to make sure it wasn’t, gasp, lice. (It wasn’t.) Everything looked fine, but I didn’t want the poor kid to be itchy all the time.
I knew that olive oil could be put on his scalp to add some moisture, but the thought of then having to wash it out wasn’t exactly something I wanted to live through. So, I visited the all-knowing Mr. Google.
Mr. Google told me that apple cider vinegar can be very helpful for dry, itchy, scalps. I had heard about apple cider vinegar being used for conditioner, and had in fact thought about using it myself, but hadn’t made the connection that what is moisturizing to hair could also potentially help with a dry scalp.
So, I plopped Alex in the bathtub, and with a handful of cotton balls soaked in apple cider vinegar, I spread it around his scalp where he indicated it was itchy. We let it soak in for a few minutes; Alex played with his bath toys, I played on my phone while sitting on the floor of the bathroom.
When I rinsed it off the smell went away completely (something I was concerned about) but then I noticed something. The sides of Alex’s face were red. They looked raised, red, and kind of like a welt. I thought that perhaps I had pushed too hard putting the apple cider vinegar through his hair? Maybe I was holding his face there and was squeezing hard? Did he hit the side of his face while playing? None of those things were true; Alex cooperated fully and I didn’t even have to hold his head, the only place I could have put any pressure was where the cotton balls touched his hair, and I definitely would have noticed if he smacked his face off of something.
The welts went away by the time we were finished getting ready for bed that night, and I completely forgot about the event.
Then, yesterday. Yesterday, we were eating lunch. Alex was having his usual smorgasbord lunch: strawberries, blueberries, goat cheese on almond crackers, some pieces of ham, and a few of my chicken wings from the night before.
After lunch, Alex was sitting on Zach’s lap in his office. They were watching some sort of trailer for a new iPad game, when Zach asked me what was around his mouth. I looked, and, sure enough, there were raised red welts around his mouth. We had him wash his face, but the welts remained.
Alex deals with a rash around his mouth chronically. At this point, we are pretty sure that it is a contact rash due to wheat. His eczema also flairs up after wheat, so it would make sense to me that the mouth rash could be related to that. But this? This redness was completely different than eczema, and completely different than his usual rash.
So, naturally, I needed to figure it out. I didn’t remember the previous event right away, though. I thought about the food he ate: could it be the strawberries? Unlikely, since he eats them multiple times a week. Same goes for the blueberries, goat cheese, and almond crackers. He also eats the ham for lunch at school at least once a week, and then often for a lunch on the weekend if he doesn’t want what we are having. Couldn’t be that.
That left the wings. There were probably 4+ ingredients in the sauce (they were delivered) and any one could be the culprit.
Finally, I remembered the bathtub situation. I remembered the big red welts on his face. Apple cider vinegar! There must be some apple cider vinegar in the wing sauce!
And so, I experimented. I wet a bit of cloth with some apple cider vinegar, and I put a bit on a cheek and on the inside of his wrist.
Yup, I experimented on my child.
Sure enough, his cheek turned red. It wasn’t the same raised welt as the others, but we also didn’t let it stay on his skin for very long like it would have during his bath or while the wing sauce sat on his face (messy kids!) while he finished eating. It was definitely red, though, and clearly caused by the apple cider vinegar I just rubbed on his cheek.
That boy of mine? Add apple cider vinegar as a list of possible things he is allergic/sensitive to. (Hopefully it’s something that doesn’t affect him systemically. It is vinegar, after all, so maybe it was just in contact too long with his skin and any body would react that way?)
For the Fourth of July, I had to stop at the store to pick up a few items. We were having the grandparents over, and while we were being provided with a lot of essentials, there were things that were necessary to make it a lovely day.
Alex and I went into the store, him plopped in the little seat in the cart (if anyone asks, he’s 35 pounds. I’m sticking to that.), me holding my phone with the Groceries App list open.
As we were picking up berries for maybe the best fruit tart ever, Alex excitedly said, “Mommy! You have to get more raspberries because they look sooooo good.”
I agreed, and we grabbed an extra half pint of raspberries just because.
An older man was picking out strawberries right next to us and commented that he loves to see kids excited about healthy food. I agreed, and we went on our way around the store.
One thing is for sure, that kid could almost entirely survive on fruit if I would let him. Particularly berries, and particularly when they are in season.
But he also loves most other food. Honestly, I can’t complain about him as an eater. There are days when he won’t eat, but there are days when he scarfs down whatever I put in front of him. His favorite snack is a salad.
In the car on the way home from the grocery store, Alex was asking me about what our meal would be that evening. I told him we were having cheeseburgers, which he loves. “What are burgers made out of? Cow?”
“Yes. Most hamburgers are made with beef, which is from a cow.”
“And the cow is dead? Someone kills it?”
“Well, yes. The cow is dead. Someone has to kill it to get the meat.”
Alex made a frowny face and declared, “That’s not nice. Why can’t we just take the meat without killing the animal?”
I tried to explain how much that would hurt the animal. How we can’t just chop off a piece of a living creature.
“Mommy, that sounds mean. I don’t want to eat animal ever again.”
I told him that was fine! He could eat his berries and have corn on the cob for dinner.
He asked me if he could have some cheese for a snack when we got home because apparently thinking about where food comes from made him hungry. I told him of course, and then he asked me about cheese. How it’s made. I reminded him that the cheese we eat comes from either cows or goats, primarily. We went into…details.
“Oh. Mommy? I’m never eating meat again OR milk from animals.”
“Okay, sweetie. Berries and corn for dinner it is!”
“Oh, I can’t eat a cheeseburger?”
“Well, our cheeseburgers are made with cheese and ground beef, both from a cow.”
“Oh. Mommy? I want to eat a cheeseburger, but I don’t want to eat any other animals.”
“Okay, sweetie. You can eat a cheeseburger and no other animals. …so, no more chicken nuggets, okay?”
“Chicken nuggets are chickens! I will only eat chicken nugget chickens and cheese burgers.”
We then discussed bacon. Chicken-thigh kebabs. Sausage. Eggs. His favorite food in the world: goat cheese.
Let’s just say, this kid isn’t going to become a vegan any time soon. Kid likes his meat, and I don’t think he will ever give up goat cheese.