Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Need

I need to find a chew toy for my 7-year-old. A chew toy that fits on top of a pencil. Because without one, well...I fear that shards of wood are going to wind up lodged in his digestive tract. I wish I were kidding. That pencil over there? He got that pencil from his teacher at 8:15 in the morning, after he'd so totally shredded his previous pencil that it was in approximately six pieces. By 11:00, this is what it looked like.

When his teacher pulled me aside after dismissal to show me the pencil and ask what I thought we could do, I told her that asking him not to chew was simply not an option. We've asked him not to suck his thumb. We've asked him not to chew his shirts. And he's doing the best he can. But he has to chew SOMEthing. And it's going to be the thing in his hand or close to his mouth, more often than not. So, pencils it will be. (As someone who has always chewed on pencils and pens--hell, as someone who spent much of junior high school running to the bathroom after yet another Bic pen exploded blue ink all over my tongue and lips--I understand. What I don't understand is why I didn't get teased to within an inch of my life for crap like that. I think I lived in some kind of little charmed pocket of niceness.)

Instead of not asking him to chew, then, what I did was head to Office Depot, to look for a less-easily-destroyed pencil. I found what I thought might be the solution: rubber coated pencils. I handed a dozen of them to his teacher on Monday.

This is what she sent home with him yesterday. So I'm thinkin' that maybe the rubber-coated thing isn't going to be my answer.

Which is why I need a chew toy pencil topper. And quick.

Of course, such a thing doesn't exist. Or if it does, it's not easily available, and certainly not carried at Office Depot. In fact, it's this sort of need--a small, concrete, seemingly minor need--that is at the bottom of half my angst these days. Because this one small, concrete, seemingly minor need is nothing of the sort. It's a need that leads to other needs. There is need upon need upon need here. It's a never-ending circle of need.

Here's how it goes:

I need to find a pencil he can chew on, but not destroy. But I don't know where to find it. So what I really need is someone who can point me in the right direction, tell me what store or online venue will have this sort of equipment for me. Except I don't know who to ask around here. So what I really need is a list or bulletin board or something for kids like N; somewhere I can send queries like this and get btdt responses in minutes. Except N's problems aren't pigeon-hole-able, which means it's almost impossible to find the right kind of online group. So what I really need is a better diagnosis. Except I can't afford to take him to yet another slew of doctors in search of I-don't-know-what. So what I really need is a better job, one that pays more. Except if I had a better job, I'd undoubtedly have to be in an office, and that would cut into the time I can spend with N in the afternoons, trying to keep him regulated. So what I really need is to find a school situation that fits him better, where they would know better how to help me regulate him, and where he wouldn't be so nervous that he'd chew through two pencils a day. Except that would require my having all of the above: online or personal resources to help me find the right place, a better diagnosis, a better job to afford the diagnosis...

You know those books, those "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books? That's what it's like in my brain these days. Except without the cute illustrations.

All of which is to say...Does anyone out there know where I can find a less-destructible pencil?


PnP said...

O.K., I bet you wont laugh if I suggest dent-a-bones, you know those cute little chew toys for puppies, help make the teeth I wont suggest that...

A friend of mine has an adorable little boy chewer of her own. She got him some cute bandana's he wore around his neck and those were his chew-dana's. He had easy access, she tied a little knot like thing at the end and presto, easy access chew thing, no wood involved.

Dont know if it will work but it helped him alot.

Good luck!


Valle said...

I'm going to agree with the idea of finding a pencil alternative, because i don't think there's such thing as an indestructible one.

Do you know any good OTs? They always have great ideas, suggestions, and stuff for this kind of thing..

Jane said...

Does it hurt him to chew the pencil? Other than you worrying about his digestive system? (which, dude. The miniscule amount of wood and pencil lead involved here? Please.) Why bother with this? That having been said, what about a mechanical pencil? They have them with thicker lead so he can't break it by pushing down (I use one for crossword puzzles).

Also, look at you, introducing some pictures. Where'd you get that idea?

Tamar said...

I can't imagine a pencil top that would work, honestly, but I do think a chewy of some kind is in order. When D went through that phase (around K, maybe? -- well, actually, he went through it a few times), we gave him baby spoons. They have a sort of soft, rubbery chewy texture.

We tried chewy tubes (his OT gave me a few). They worked okay, but not as well as the spoons. Here are a few other options. (I looked up "oral motor" in the Abilitations catalog.) A chewy bracelet is a nice idea; it's always with him and readily available.

Ambre said...

Not sure what I think about a poster to a teacher's forum who spells maybe "mabee."

Ambre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ambre said...

Try this link instead

Valle said...

I found these (chewy tubes):

po said...

We've gone through loads of "need to chew" phases, and what's easy and disposable and cheap and readily available is plastic straws. Pack of 100, send a bunch to school. They're thin, and sometimes that's less than satisfying, but then just have him bend them in half so he can chew on both halves together.

Seriously, it's better than pencils, and better than shirts for sure!

kristenspina said...

Abilations catalog--but someone already said that. GREAT stuff. And do you have a Lakeshore Learning store out there? (I think Pasadena...) Anyway, lots of little pencil toppy things near the checkout.

My son eats his shirts, his hands, his lips, but has yet to move to pencils. We got him a little t-shaped rubbery thing that's for oral motor stuff, and he chews that while he watches tv. It's in the catalog.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

My son chewed his sleeves until we discovered those rubber bracelets - you know, the kind that Lance Armstrong popularized that say "live strong"- you can find them at drugstores with all kinds of words on them, and boys wear them too so they're "cool", which was important once my son started middle school...and very cheap, so it didn't matter when he chewed through them.

Elizabeth said...

There are lots of cute rubber pencil toppers, but they're not made for chewing, and they probably are all made in China out of god knows what. So I'd vote for straws, coffee stirrers, or something OT-ish that is meant to be chewed on.

I'm another person who spent much of my school years with ink on my face. It wasn't nervousness -- it was just a habit. Now that I mostly use a computer, I've mostly stopped, although will sometimes walk around with a coffee stirrer hanging out of my mouth.

Here's a discussion that looks interesting:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that abilitations catalog is pretty cool! They have chewy jewelry that he might like as a shirt replacement (chewelry ;-)) and even a chewable pencil topper! I can't paste the link but if you go on there and search for pencil it'll come up.


Anonymous said...

try the chew ease pencil topper sold here at this link:

I am an OT and I like this for the exact problem you are describing.

Other products you may try are Chewelry; Chewy Tubes or Keychain Chew tubes (ChewEase) try Abilitations/Integrations Catalog to find them.