Friday, April 1, 2016

Time to lock up the kitchen

By M.H.

The idea of having to lock food in my own house to protect my son who has PWS has always struck me as a particularly dramatic (and upsetting) intervention.  In the early days, when I was just getting used to the idea of PWS, I remember being consistently taken aback each time I heard about this practice.  Knowing that not all families lock food made me wonder which type of family mine would be.  Would locking imply that my son's hyperphagia and/or anxiety were worse than those of others?  

As well as wondering whether or not we would need to lock, I also wondered how I would know when to lock.  Recently, a few months before my son's 12th birthday, the time came.  And, like so much in our PWS journey thus far, it was far less dramatic and far less upsetting than I thought would be the case.  

For a start, my son was the one to ask that the kitchen be locked.  He did so without fuss one day after school. His request was calm and reasonable and delivered in the same tone of voice he uses when asking if he can borrow something or watch TV.  It is true that he had once before gone into the kitchen and taken a bite of his father's unattended meal, but apart from that incident (which he had owned up to immediately), there had been no food stealing from the kitchen (at least not that I was aware of).  Honestly, I would not have suggested locking the doors at this stage had he not asked me to.

I put him off initially.  I told him it was a big step and that although we would be happy to do it if he wanted us to, we should think about it for a few weeks first.  Then I waited to see if he would raise it again.  He did.  A few weeks passed and this time he changed the question slightly to ask when I was going to start locking the doors.  So I did.

In contrast to what I feared, locking the kitchen doesn't feel disrespectful to my son at all.  Paradoxically, it also seems to me that it facilitates his independence rather than limits it.  He requested the action, we responded, and he is happy with the outcome.  

I will admit that it's a bit inconvenient.  For one thing, I have missed several phone calls because I keep accidentally locking my phone in the kitchen. It's also impossible to access our back door without going through the kitchen, which will probably lead to us redesigning our living space.  And I wonder what the grocery delivery man thinks!  But, overall, it works.  No fuss, no drama.  After all, there are far worse things in life than a few locked doors.   


I will always remember the look on my daughter's face when she came home from school, aged around 7, and saw a lock that I'd put on our pantry, "Gosh," she said, "what a bright shiny lock!  Did you do that Mum?"   I was completely taken aback as I'd expected a huge fight, and stuttered, "y-y-yes", and she responded, "Oh!  You are clever!"



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