Can’t Make Him Eat

Dearest Rachel –

Since, like you, Daniel stays up until… I honestly don’t know when, I find myself debating as to whether or not to go out and get something for him to eat for breakfast when he does finally wake up, especially on days like today, when I intend to head across town to my ‘office’ in the folks’ basement.

The thing is, it really seems to be a pointless gesture to do so. For a while, I was rather making a habit of going out to the local grocery store, and picking up a small box of strudels for him. One of the folks’ neighbors had given them such a box of strudel as well as a box of chocolate chip cookies as a sort of condolence gift, and Daniel devoured those. And since he is no longer ever in the mood for breakfast from McDonald’s (would you believe that in the entire time since you left, he has yet to request his old Saturday morning ‘usual’ of a breakfast burrito and a mango/pineapple smoothie like he used to get every single week?), for a while I turned that box of strudel into his new ‘usual.’

It wasn’t an everyday thing, mind you… at least, not after the first week or so. After all, I wouldn’t be going out every day; Jan would be here several times a week, so I’d be home to get whatever he wanted. What were the times when I had it at the office, I needed to reassure myself that Daniel had… something to eat when he woke up.

And for a while, this arrangement worked out pretty well. He did seem to enjoy the apple and strawberry cream cheese flavors in particular; for whatever reason, he was never into the cherry flavor – guess that’s one more way he takes after you.

But after a while, I began to notice a box that I would get him staying unopened for several days on end. And it wasn’t as if he was eating something else for breakfast: I’ve been keeping the fridge and freezer fairly spartan since Ellen and Jan both helped to clean them out over these past few months; I don’t want to revert back to that cluttered state we were trapped in. Though, to be fair, I have purchased a few other things for breakfast alternatives, but he doesn’t touch those either, that requires actually going to the fridge or freezer and getting them out not to mention preparing them.

So the upshot of this is, I can bring him food, but like the proverbial horse and water, I can’t seem to make him eat. Oh, in the evenings I can ask if he wants me to pick something up from some restaurant, and if we can get past his “meh” or “whatever” moods, he’ll go through what he requests quickly and hungrily enough. But breakfast? Yeah, no.

I suppose it shouldn’t bother me. After all, he’s showing the kind of restraint that I really should myself in order to continue shedding some pounds. It’s actually quite admirable, really, considering how it defies the stereotype of the fat American. Of course, it’s not that he needs to. Although… I do kid him about maintaining his girlish figure.

But it does bother me, nevertheless. It’s the sort of thing that goes hand in glove with his general refusal to leave the house, although, I should point out that he’s still working on that (admittedly, yesterday he was only out in the backyard keeping an eye on the dog, but then, that’s two responsibilities in one action, so he deserves more than credit for it). The thing is, he’s still not really taking the responsibility to do things for himself.

Now it may be possible that he just never gets hungry enough. He never gets a ‘jones’ for something or other, where he gets it in his mind that you know, I want this for this meal or something like that. He virtually never gets hungry enough to actually go and get something for himself – Although there was last week and Chipotle, so I can’t say absolutely never.

But in between those two, there is the fact that there are options here at the house for him to consume. Some of them, I find myself reminding him about: “Hey son, there are donuts/hot pockets/toaster waffles for you to have for breakfast if you want them,” and they continue to go untouched day after day. I sometimes feel guilty eating them myself, since they really were bought with him in mind. But hey, I’m the one who’s hungry apparently, and he isn’t.

I think the thing that gets at me is my concern that he won’t be able to function on his own. He won’t eat, even when it’s provided for him; what’s he going to do if and when I’m no longer there to insist?

Maybe I’m making too big a deal out of this. I’m the morning person in the family, after all. Breakfast is important to me. Not so much for you or him. And again, he eats reasonably well in the evenings. Not as much as me, but he does eat. It’s not as if he’s going to starve, although we have yet to see how he would function when left to his own devices.

But I can’t help wondering, and I can’t help being concerned. At the same time, I’ve got to go out and live my life, and while I can provide for him, I can’t make him eat if he’s not hungry, or if he doesn’t think of it, or whatever it is that causes him to leave everything on the table, so to speak.

Food is more than just fuel for the body; there is a decidedly social aspect to it. It’s part of what gets the girls to get together with us, like we did last night (although for the first time in I don’t know how long – maybe ever – each of them brought their own dinners and we simply ate together around the table. Ellen tells me that back in the day, they would offer to do this, and you would have none of it, preferring to cook a single meal for everybody. I get that it’s easier to prepare for four or five than for one or two – believe me, I know all too well, these days – but it seems that sometimes each of them had a taste for some thing we couldn’t – or wouldn’t – provide). The dining table is a place for us to people to come together and enjoy time together – even if the conversation is simply over the weather, or just what the other person ordered, and if it’s any good, it’s all conversation. It’s food for the soul as well as the body. It may well be, that without the psychic seasoning of company and conversation, Daniel just doesn’t see any point in eating. Whereas in the evenings, the two of us at least her together, and the food doesn’t taste as much like ash.

Again, I might be overthinking this. But these are the thoughts that cross my mind, and in a way, this further emphasizes my concern. Once he’s on his own, he will be alone. Will anything taste good to him then? Will anything seem worth eating?

Will he starve with food in the fridge?

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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