As I write this post, I have a heavy heart. I want to scream. I want to cry out. I want to run to my room and hide under the covers (MOMS: By the time you read this, I will be fine. I’m just writing while I’m still upset. I love you!). This day has been so filled with OCD/Religion that I don’t really know which way is up and what is right anymore.
Blake has the week off school and he slept until almost noon today. When he came downstairs, he asked my “permission” to fast today. Fast? Why? Well, apparently he has committed some religious sin and his fasting is a way to repent. Lest you think I do not understand the value of fasting to restore oneself to religious purity, let me say that I can appreciate it and I do recognize that it can be of value. Admittedly, it would not be my first choice for myself, but I get it.
When Blake asked for my permission, though, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Fast? This young man? The one who already has poor eating habits? The one who has deemed the microwave, the pots and pans, the kitchen shears and the placemats contaminated? The one who will go for very long stretches at a time without eating at all? The one who has been living on yogurt, pita, cheese and bananas for the last month? Oh – and ice cream. I can’t forget to mention ice cream.
If I sound crazed, that’s because that is how I feel right now. Do not tell my patients. It will frighten them all away. Or maybe it will make them feel that I understand what they are going through.
I told him that I could not give him my “permission” to do this. I didn’t understand it, and until there was a religious authority telling me that this rule applies for this young man in this situation, I cannot agree with it.
“So, you’re not allowing me to do it?” he asked.
“Blake, do not put this on me. You make your own decisions. You do not normally choose to do what I recommend. You asked if I give you permission. I do not give my permission.”
So fast, he did. He prayed and he fasted. In doing my own research on the matter, what Blake was doing did hold some water, religiously. But I am having trouble reconciling it in my own head. How is it good for this young man to fast as a form of repentance? Tonight I feel like I need religious counsel.
When I arrived home after seeing some patients, it was 6 pm. Blake’s fast was just going to last until sunset, yet he still sat in front of the computer, not having eaten or drank all day. One half hour before we were to sit down as a family and eat, he was shoving day old pizza into his mouth (by the way, he eats homemade pizza, too).
Then came dinnertime. While Dad, Michael and I sat down to eat, Blake suddenly decided that he wanted to cook a special box of mac and cheese that I had bought for him. For thirty-five minutes he foraged through my pots and pans searching for just the right pot to cook his macaroni in. The metal pots clashed and clanged throughout our meal. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him scrutinize each item – over and over again. He kept looking at the same items, trying to find one he could possibly use. He selected an omelet pan.
“No. You can’t boil enough water in an omelet pan to cook a box of macaroni.”
“Can I just pour boiling water over it in a bowl?” he asked.
“No, it needs to cook in boiling water for around 10 minutes.”
Our dinner ended. Blake finally tried to shut the drawers he’d been searching through, never having found the elusive pot. All too contaminated to cook in apparently. I was left with a jumbled mess of cookware to re-organize so that the drawers would shut. No special mac and cheese for Blake…
The entire episode was maddening for me to watch. “Come on, Blake,” I silently rooted for him. “Care enough to put the rules aside and eat what you really want!” I felt defeated upon seeing him never find the “right” pan.
The mac and cheese package sits back in the cupboard, torn open, but never cooked. It bears the scars of the young man who held it in one hand for more than half an hour as he searched desperately with the other to find some way to cook it. In the end, he settled for a box of oyster crackers – and I’ve lost my appetite.