Zachary rang out 2009 much the same way he rang it in: complaining about dinner and eating nothing. Come to think of it, that’s how he spent the last half a decade.
We went around the table, performing our nightly ritual of asking each person what the worst and best parts of the day had been. Zachary’s worst? “You making food I don’t like for dinner.”
Hmmm. “Well, babe, that’s a mighty short list: foods you don’t like.”
“No it’s not. It’s a very long list,” he spat back. Five-year-olds lack a capacity for sarcasm. He went on: “You can’t just make food for one person. You have to think about everyone.”
“Dude. I made pizza. I am pretty sure I was thinking about you. Do you think Daddy and I want to eat pizza?” My husband, mid-bite, shook his head. The pizza was unbelievably bland by the time I left out the garlic and olive oil to which Lilah is allergic and the various herbs to which Zachary would no doubt have vociferous objections. Benjamin was far too engaged in his third piece of pizza to bother telling us the best part of his day.
No one knows why Zach elects not to eat. All we know is that food is enormously stressful for him. We’ve tried hard to make our house a stress-free zone. I bake muffins with all the fruits and veggies pureed in. We buy the fruits he likes. We try to make sure there is one healthful item at each dinner that he will enjoy, even if it is just fresh, whole wheat bread. Going out to eat is another story. It is an experience fraught with potential disasters. Butter! Sauce! Green things!
How is a small boy to know what could show up on his plate in a place as wildly out of control as a restaurant?
I feel sad for him. While the rest of the world is out, gorging on flavors of all sorts, Zachary is hiding in the corner, terrified that someone might try to slip some butter onto his popcorn.
Life, I am quite certain, is not meant to be lived this way.