Portrait of a Girl at a Roadside Rest-Stop

The other day, I rounded a bend in a roadside rest-stop to see this:


And it struck me. It looks simple enough, unremarkable even. A kid sitting in one of those rest-stop highchairs. A kid waiting for her dinner. But the miles accumulate into the wide terrain of states, just like we were crossing through four on this day, and the miles we’ve gone with Fiona have added up to the many feats that this image collectively represents.

roadside 2

Just kicking it at a roadside rest-stop. Sitting up in a chair. One without padding, without support, one clearly not designed for her body. Just waiting for food–in this case, cereal O’s, cheese, bread with mustard. Just readying to eat (to eat! She eats!) something that will require her to chew (to chew! She chews!) while she sits there (She sits! On her own!)

Awhile back, I wrote a post about Fiona’s food intake. She went through a miserable stretch of a month or two when she preferred to subsist on 300 calories or less. Enough calories just to live, huh Fi?, we’d darkly joke. But not much about it was funny. We fretted. Was this some strange symptom of WHS, where a kid might actually starve herself due to her oral aversions? Was this just a rough patch we had to weather? Feeding Fiona became the center of the universe. Resisting food became her primary daily objective. Was it time for a feeding tube? If we got one, would she stop eating entirely, as so many kids with WHS do? Was she better off having one anyway, given the meager calories she was consuming? Would it help her development? Give her more energy? Or would this strange period of food refusal pass?

The fog lifted. The clouds parted. The period passed. Later, a doctor told us that she had cut three molars. So maybe Fiona was too uncomfortable to eat. I don’t know. But now my girl is not only back into eating — rice, fish, chicken, seaweed, beans, yogurt, oatmeal, bread, cheese, asparagus, and more — but she’s chewing, too, which broadens her menu and is gorgeous to watch. I never thought chewing could look so beautiful.

roadside 3


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