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The Blood Sugar Thing

Twice in the last month, Simon has said or done something flat-out mean to Matt or me. In both cases, I have been struck by how un-Simonlike these moments are. Simon has always been a fundamentally sweet kid, not just in my opinion, but also in that of friends, family, teachers, and sometimes total strangers. Both times, furthermore, Simon doubled down on his bad attitude by stonewalling us when we insisted on an apology. I know he’s stubborn, but he’s not usually stubbornly mean. Last weekend, with an apology being the price of admission to the house, he chose to sit outside on the front porch steps for a good ten minutes before he was ready to back down and say he was sorry.

On both occasions, my initial interpretation of the behavior has been “little adolescence.” He’s four, I figure, and is going to be awful like this on occasion. Except that also on both occasions, something interesting has happened: Once we’ve gotten past the discipline and bad attitude, Simon has requested a snack, a snack that ends up being a rather large meal. We’re talking whole sandwiches plus fruit, crackers, and two glasses of water to drink. Somewhere around the mid-point of all this mastication, the misanthropic Mr. Hyde gives way to the jolly Dr. Jeckyll.

“Thank you for my snack, Mommy” he’ll say. “I sure do love you!” or “You sure do take good care of me.”

These events have led me to believe that in cases of mild disobedience/backtalk/whininess, I’m indeed dealing with the downside of four, but that these more extreme cases are physiological in nature. There’s a family history at play, you see.

When I’m hungry, I either eat (duh!) or ignore the hunger until it’s convenient to take a break. Unless I go more than six to eight waking hours, it’s no big deal to skip a meal or walk around a little hungry. For Matt, though, hunger is more serious and must be attended to. He gets shaky and frazzled, and postponing eating is a very bad, terrible, no good plan for him. He just gets shakier and even more frazzled, eventually losing the ability to think straight. I hear that other members of his family are the same, if not worse, with reports of certain family members getting short-tempered when their blood sugar gets too low.

It is increasingly apparent to me that this is an issue for Simon as well. It has led me in recent weeks to face behavioral problems with physical solutions. As a result, we’ve had a few naps, a few early dinners, and a lot less escalation when his mood takes a dive. We’ve also had more days where things look grim mid-day, only to rally in the late afternoon after sleep and food have been dispensed.

The glass half-empty view of this is that I have to carefully monitor Simon’s caloric intake to control his mood. The glass half-full view, the view to which I am inclined, is that my guy is so sweet that nasty moods are a barometer for physical distress. My Bubbie used to be fond of the saying “If money can fix it, it’s not really a problem.” The variation in our house might just be, “If a nap or granola bar can fix it, it’s not really bad behavior.”

One Response to “The Blood Sugar Thing”

  1. Amanda says:

    I get EXTREMELY short-tempered–well, downright crabby cross–when I’m hungry.

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