Not Normal

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,


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Awesome post, Dana. May God bless you for your mothering love for your baby and may He keep your boy healthy. Now you’ll have a funny story to tell to his wife-to-be one day. My father-in-law has quite a few of those about my husband (although none involve anything as clean as dirt).

Thanks, Sprittibee! Obsessive Compulsive Disorder seems to run in my family, and my son definitely displays some of those tendencies. One thing he does is line up his cars. Neatly in a straight line. There is no point to trying to stop him. No matter where you are going or where you have to be, it is best to just let him finish lining them up. I think this little dirt eating might be related, but I *hope* we are getting through it. He doesn’t seem so crazed about it now and isn’t trying to sneak off to eat dirt.… Read more »
Headmistress, zookeeper
Headmistress, zookeeper
Dana, I’m really impressed with his language skills- to be able to explain what he was feeling so well is impressive. And fwiw, when he was, oh, between one and four or so our 8 y.o. son always liked to put his cars in a straight line, too. And if we moved a couple when he wasn’t looking, he noticed and put them back in the right order. He couldn’t talk, but he could put his cars in order from largest to smallest and he liked them to stay that way. He’s keeps his room nice and tidy now, but… Read more »
He is a very bright little boy. And he is full of expressions not normally found in a three year old boy like, “Oh dear,” and “lovely.” And my favorite, “Mommy, I love you so much. You are so very special to me.” Your car lining son sounds like mine. I will be quite glad if the dirt eating just passes and nothing more ever really comes of it. But now I’m worried…my baby does like to eat dog food, too. I never thought much about it. After all, it is more nutritious than most people food. (Not that I… Read more »

[…] the biting, the pica, the hand licking . . . well, there has been a lot of prayers, a lot of tears and a lot of […]