Dylan and Grandpa Danny’s Story: Our Run-In With a Sweet Potato

It was a cold winter night when I flew over to visit my daughter’s home in Michigan. Now, my visits to see Danielle’s family are usually last minute affairs. This trip was no different, except this time Danielle told me, “You are walking into a hot mess!”

My grandson Dylan was almost one year old and had been constipated for days. His stomach was so bloated I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. To call him an unhappy child would be an understatement. Even so, he was so glad to see me, he ran into my arms with a joy that makes a grandfather’s heart melt. ‘‘PopPop!” he cried. We hugged, but the joy was short lived.

I asked what was happening. “His old formula was stopping him up, so the pediatrician said to change to a new one, but that only made things worse. He hasn’t pooped for three days! What do I do?’’ Stating the obvious did no good. ‘‘I’m a dad, I said. What the heck do I know about such things?’’ I’ll spare you her reply, but it was true, an answer was needed, and soon.

She explained that with Dylan being a little underweight, the doctor advised an addition of powdered baby food to the formula change. So to summarize, the baby was in the middle of a change-up of formula on top of new foods being introduced. My daughter had containers of formula, boxes and jars of food all lined up and ready to consume, but poor Dylan’s bowel had stopped working.

Danielle needed an answer that was better than anything she was getting from the doctor, or me. My credential as being a facilitator in The Suppers Programs doesn’t necessarily make me an expert in such things. But what I did see was that everything he was consuming was a processed food.

What Dylan needed was a logical miracle. Now where does one go to get one of those? As fast as I could, my two fingers started typing out the scenario to Dor, the author of Logical Miracles. The E-mail was almost immediately responded to with a short reply:

“Does Dylan have hand-to-mouth coordination?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Bake him a sweet potato.”

“HUH? That’s it? The miracle is bake a sweet potato?”

Now, Danielle knows my preference for whole foods goes back a ways, and she tolerated it as long as she didn’t have to participate in its application. But now it was being dumped on her little boy.

‘‘He’ll never eat it,’’ she said and walked off with a dismissive look.

I try not to get in the middle of two strong women’s opinions, but one look at the boy told me to man up and buy him a sweet potato.

So I rode off into the snowy night to find me a damn sweet potato. One. Just one, and a little jar of real maple syrup, just because.

I came home, turned on the oven, tossed in the sweet potato. She walked in, shook her head and left, without saying a word.

“Cut it so he can pick it up” I was told in a following E-mail. With a bit of syrup added, just because, I quietly put it in front of him at the highchair, and left the kitchen.

Next thing I hear is, “I’ll be damned, he’s eating it!” My daughter was watching in disbelief at her son devouring it. In minutes, the sweet potato was gone.

What happened next, though, is the real miracle. Yes, of course, the constipation was relieved. But the realization that we didn’t need a doctor’s note to get him off of processed foods and turn the boy on to whole foods was a revelation. It was nothing short of a life changing experience due to a run in with a sweet potato.

What else would he try? Grapes, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, the list became endless. Kiwi, mushrooms, figs, you name it, Dylan ate it. So much so that from that cold day in January to date, he has not had one jar or box of baby food since. There are very few fruits or vegetables that he hasn’t eaten.

Moving forward, Dylan was found to have a dairy allergy that caused him some more bowel issues. But a move to almond milk solved that, too.

Danielle’s morning ritual is to cut, chop, and prepare Dylan’s food for the day. She packs it up in little containers that he now reaches for himself, choosing from the refrigerator what he wants to eat that day.

Bake him a sweet potato. What an amazing little sentence.