Yesterday we decided to go grab a quick bite to eat before going to the movies. We drove to the strip mall and were faced with two choices of restaurants. Jay chose Uncle Julio. My hubby and I looked at each other in surprise, but who were we to question his decision… besides I am always happy about Mexican food! Jay obviously did not read the sign very well for you should have seen his face when he looked at the menu.
I know eating out with any child can be a challenge, but throw in there Aspergers… well you get all sorts of new challenges. Many children with Aspergers are sensitive to smell, taste, texture and even temperature of food. Jay is no exception. He has come a long way but still he is a picky eater. Food cannot touch. In fact I think his ideal meal would include a prison plate where everything is divided into sections. There was a time when he would take a hamburger and eat the bun and meat separately. He will now eat it together but plain… no ketchup or any other condiments and don’t even think about adding cheese to it. But all in all he has a pretty diverse diet. He eats many vegetables, there are several fruits he enjoys and he takes a multivitamin just in case he is missing out on important nutrients. But still, going out to eat is always interesting. Especially to a new place.
Jay hates to admit he is wrong. He will do anything to prove he is not wrong about something. It was this obsession to be right that drove my son to scan over the menu for something he would eat in the same way that a TSA agent would scan a passenger that just set off the metal detector… but in Jay’s case he was allowed to keep his shoes on. After all, he picked the restaurant so he had to find something he could eat or else he would have to admit he made a mistake. ” Tacos… no. Quesadilla… no way!”… he was starting to get anxious. I reached over and grabbed the kids menu. I too was getting a little nervous until I saw they had fajitas. Jay likes steak. He likes vegetables. He even likes rice. Bingo… we have a winner. I convinced Jay that we would order the meal without the corn and beans and that it would be fine. He was even excited about the idea of his food coming to the table steaming hot. (Jay likes his food hot never cold.) So with crisis diverted hubby and I were able to order our food and enjoy a few minutes of grownup conversation while the kids did the puzzles on their menus.
The key to a successful outing is preparation. If I can prepare Jay for what is going to happen… we usually do not have any problems. I thought I had done that. I mean I told him how the steak would come sizzling… we talked about how if they made a mistake and brought the beans anyway he just did not have to eat them…but I failed to mention that his meal would come with tortillas. How could I forget the tortillas…he ordered fajitas for goodness sake! The food arrived and the waiter placed this blue box in front of Jay. Jay nervously asked what was in the box. The waiter looked at him confused and said, “Your tortillas.” I could see the wheels turning in Jay’s head. Tortillas? I never mentioned anything of tortillas. What was a tortilla? I smiled at the waiter and thanked him and then turned to my now upset child and calmly tried to do damage control as quickly as I could.
Jay loves bread, so I told him a tortilla was just a plain thin round piece of bread that some people will use to wrap their food in so they can pick it up and not have to use their fork and knife. Gracie sweetly volunteered to show Jay what I meant. Jay watched with disgust written all over his face. Grace combined food and then wrapped it all together… he was grossed out. Okay this was not going well. “Jay you don’t have to eat them… they just come with your meal. If you want to try them that is fine but you don’t have to. Just eat the steak and rice and vegetables”, I said trying to end this all so I could get back to the flautas that looked so good on my plate. Then Jay did something that surprised us all. He grabbed a tortilla and… took a bite! We all stopped eating, hubby even put his fork down. Jay slowly chewed and swallowed. We all waited quietly for the verdict. “I give it about a 7.9 out of 10. Not bad.”, he said and went back to eating.
Holy guacamole… the boy ate a tortilla and liked it! Will he try it again… who knows. All I know was that we were able to make it through dinner and then the movie without any major problems. It was a very successful family night! I treasure days like that! They are what keep us going on the bad days.