It’s Friday – this means at around 4pm I’ll be switching my oven on and firing in fish fingers. I’ll then add toast and peas – this is Caleb’s Friday tea! This tea has become a signal of the weekend in our house, it’s a sign that we’ve made it through another week and we’re all doing ok. I breathe a sigh of relief as I dish up these golden rectangles and buttered toast – my back up will be walking through the front door very soon and for the whole weekend we’ll be a two man team. I am aware that this is not the most nutritious meal or the most culinary challenging but it’s become Caleb’s Friday thing and I’m not prepared to battle over food on a Friday so it’s far easier to keep the peace and accept this meal is fine for Friday nights.
Being on the autistic spectrum can bring many different issues surrounding food for Caleb; sometimes it’s the colours, sometimes it’s the textures, sometimes it’s the temperature or sometimes he just simply isn’t feeling in the mood for that particular thing so completely refuses to eat it. Tomato soup is too orange, as are carrots and diluting orange juice, beans have a “bumpy” texture, spaghetti is too slimy, ice cream can sometimes be too freezing but other times it’s okay. The rice cakes have to be the purple ones and crisps are way too crunchy and loud in your mouth so they are a no go. Dinner times can be very challenging in our house as I try to make sure he eats nutritious, healthy meals. We use a variety of techniques including lots of encouragement, physical help and sometimes a timer to make it through a meal!!
Then there are issues surrounding where to eat; it can be difficult to eat in public places because there’s lots of noise and distractions, eating in a big group can also be very challenging for Caleb. So if you see us at a cafe or a birthday party or even the school dining hall you will notice Caleb probably not eating very much – we try very hard to work on this but I’ve learned you have to pick your battles and sometimes being out in a public place is not the best place to have the battle. Sometimes it’s easier if we don’t make a fuss or draw attention and he can eat happily at home where he is in his safe place.
So for some reason fish finger Friday became a thing and every Friday when I pick Caleb up from school he’ll say “I can’t wait for my Friday tea”. It seems to be a comfort to him, a familiar routine to start the weekend, it’s a tea he eats with no fuss or battles and it makes him happy. While we battle through every other meal time I’m happy to let Friday go, Friday is a chance to chill, we both surrender in the food war for a night and fish finger Friday is just another part of our different kind of normal!