“It’s beautiful outside,” my hubby remarks. “Let’s eat dinner on the patio.”
“That’s a great idea,” I say.
“I don’t like that idea at all,” Blake pipes up.
It’s an unseasonably nice weekend night (I started to say “warm,” but it’s not warm, really. We will need jackets outside) and I’m grilling ribs. They were a request from Michael. Something to make the evening a little more festive, a break from his piles of schoolwork. We all welcome the opportunity to eat outdoors. Well, all of us except for Blake. He’s looking uncomfortable and I can tell he’s trying to figure out how to dodge this event.
“I’ll eat inside,” he says.
“Um…that would be a ‘no.’ ” I say. “You’re part of a family. You’ll join us.”
“Then, I’ll sit outside with you, but I’m not eating out there.”
“You can choose not to eat; however, that means you choose not to eat for the night. You don’t get to start grazing after we all finish.”
Blake already refuses to eat the food I cook. He prepares his own meals. I stand firm, though, that we eat together as a family.
“I’m not comfortable with this. There’s…flies…and other insects out there.”
He paces around for a while. He stares out at the patio. Then he disappears. He comes back a few minutes later. He’s lugging a card table with him.
“Can someone open the back door for me?” he asks.
“Blake, what’s this about?” my husband asks.
“There’s not enough room for everybody at the table,” he says.
He manages to get the table outside onto the patio. I watch him set it up. It’s about ten feet away from the table where the rest of us will eat.
Our Food Is Contaminated
“Blake,” move the table closer to the other one. “You’re not eating in isolation. And, by the way, I know that this is about you thinking our food will contaminate yours. You’re not fooling anyone.”
“I’m trying to figure out a way to be out there with you guys, Mom! Really! I’m trying!”
“Come on, Blake. Let’s get this set up. I think you can be closer than that,” my hubby says. He steps outside onto the patio with Blake.
Blake’s best friend is sitting on the sofa just inside the door from where Blake is. He stays focused on his video game. He knows the drill with Blake. He’s watched it for the past seven years, since they were in third grade together. And he accepts Blake unconditionally. I thank heaven for him regularly.
When dinner is ready, we all manage to eat together. Blake and his friend eat at a table tandem to ours. Blake makes it through his meal without flinching when everyone else’s food is passed. We have a nice conversation. Blake even leaves his food uncovered for a time, and we laugh at the fact that he seems suddenly unworried about flies.
He leaves the table, briefly, while we are all eating. When he returns, he has a can of soda in his hand. “May I?” he asks. “This is hard work being out here. I think I deserve this.” And he opens the can, takes a big swig, sighs a big sigh, and joins his friend back at their table.