A has a fairly unique issue we deal with. S convinced me to blog about it for two reasons…first, in the hopes someone might be able to shed some light on the issue for us, and second, in case it might help someone else. The issue is quite plain and simple. He has a drinking fetish. By this, I mean that A is absolutely, positively OBSESSED with drinks. He will drink almost anything, and he will drink as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
It doesn’t matter if the drink is his or not, if it is in a cup, sport’s bottle, sippy cup, baby bottle, or bowl, he will drink it. He has learned to be sneaky about it, too. When no one is looking, he has made my brother-in-law’s coffee disappear as fast as his sister’s 16-oz sports bottle of water. Recently, after cooking some bacon, I had poured the grease into a glass canning jar to harden so I could dump it outside. After being distracted for a moment, I returned to the kitchen and discovered that A had somehow managed to get up on the counter, and drink some, before dumping the rest into the sink. His thoroughly oiled lips were a dead giveaway. While I don’t know how much he drank, it didn’t seem to affect him at all.
OK, I know it sounds funny to have a drinking fetish, but it really has become quite a nuisance. Concerned he may have a physical problem, we have discussed it with our pediatricians, they have run all sorts of blood and urine tests on him, and he seems healthy as a horse. A just literally has almost no self control when he sees a drink. He has to have it. He has broken into juice boxes, drank formula from baby bottles (when N was a baby), made my tea disappear faster than I can blink, and shared drinks with more strangers than I care to admit. I have to always be aware of where liquid is. He has helped me choose to eliminate almost every chemical cleaner from my house and go with just vinegar because the risk of him drinking something is too great. While my other kids like playing with a cup of some sort in the bath, A can’t because he winds up drinking the dirty bath water. Of course, even without the cup, he still sucks it up in plenty, so I have to carefully supervise him. We have the same problem with pool water, which is more dangerous since it contains the chlorine. The biggest problem is that he also has a pea-sized bladder (no pun intended). When he drinks free-choice, he pees. A lot. I mean a WHOLE LOT! What goes in must come out. He still has to wear diapers at night because of his daily fluid intake.
We have tried to take steps to control the issue. I have taught the kids to never leave drinks sitting around where he can access them. As a result, no one really gets any drinks except at meal or snack times, and then A is limited to about 2 ounces (though JR and M have learned how to open and use the step-stool to climb up to the sink and get a drink of water if necessary). We carefully monitor the color of his urine to ensure he is hydrated, but even with that little amount, his urine is almost always perfectly clear. Recently, we noticed that the output still seemed significantly greater than the carefully-monitored input. This had me puzzled for a while, and then one day, I walked in and caught him on his hands and knees, sucking the water out of Will’s dog bowl as fast as he could!!! We have attempted to let him have all he wants, but he went through 3 to 4 full-size sports bottles a day. And peed all over my floor since he couldn’t make it to the bathroom. So we began limiting, which makes him want it even more. It is puzzling and frustrating.
I have done some research, and apparently, it is quite a common issue for toddlers. The good news is they seem to outgrow it eventually. Whether the severity of A’s fetish is related to his other issues (which we believe are related to meth-exposure in utero), we don’t know. We are trying to teach him some control by encouraging him to only “drink a little bit” when he has a drink in his hand. He is slowly, but surely, improving at remembering not to inhale his entire drink at the beginning of the meal (he doesn’t get any more once he drinks it), but rather to drink small sips at the time and drink throughout the whole meal. it is hard for him, though. When we give him a drink and remind him to just drink a little, he usually obeys, but it’s like his hands have little magnets and just can’t seem to release that cup back to me! More often, though, reminder or not, his little mouth sucks down that drink just as fast as it can until we physically pry it away. So for now, we have no choice but to simply monitor his intake as best we can, and hope he outgrows it in the near future. Otherwise, either I will run out of sheets from constant laundering, or the earth will run out of water. We’ll see which comes first.