Some things aren’t really very funny when you are dealing with them. A lot of things are a lot funnier when your children are grown and you no longer are worried that you have messed them up. The damage, by then, is already done and you can finally sit back and laugh about the state they left the kitchen in after cooking, the tendency to streak, or any number of things children do to the great consternation of parents who worry too much about how each and every poor decision in childhood will reflect in the end character of the child. (I for one hope that it really is a just a “phase” that my three year old thinks that clothes are too confining and a thing only to be tolerated if they have a really cool frog or snake on them).
Anyway, said three year old has also recently been diagnosed with pica. Pica is not funny. There is nothing amusing about having to constantly monitor a three year old who lives for time outdoors to keep him from eating dirt. Luckily, he has an affinity for the dirt out of the garden which isn’t fertilized and has no herbicides or pesticides in it. Just good, clean dirt for my tomatoes and pumpkins. In desperation, however, he has also been known to pick the dirt off of the bottom of shoes to satisfy his craving.
He’s had some tests and I’m planning on requesting that his haemoglobin be checked, just for my own peace of mind. But it is lessening and he hasn’t sampled the garden fare for a week. So this conversation, from when I first thought my son to be an alien, is rather more amusing now than it was two months ago:
I pull my son out of the garden, sweeping his mouth to get out what dirt I can. He sputters as I give him a glass of water and have him rinse.
“Why did you eat the dirt?”
“I like dirt.”
“Does it taste good?”
He pauses to consider.
“I just have a hunger for dirt.”
A three year old’s description for a compulsion, I guess. And I wonder. It seems applicable to a lot of things even adults do regardless of the fact that we know they are harmful, physically and spiritually. We have a hunger for something that is bad for us. Even if we get no enjoyment from it and it doesn’t even taste good.
My baby has more sense. She is intent on trying anything her siblings do. So she toddled over to the garden and sampled the soil herself. She made an awful face, sputtered and spat and was relieved as I helped her clean out her mouth. She learned her lesson and hasn’t tried it again. In fact, the last time she saw her brother pop a clump of dirt in his mouth, she wrinkled her nose and announced,