Friendly Boy loves to have fun. He loves to watch his shows and play with his siblings and build with blocks. He loves to make Mom and Dad laugh and he loves to charm everyone with his smile. But there is one thing Friendly Boy is very serious about: Mealtime.
“I don’t like that,” Happy Boy says when he sees the food on the table.
“We don’t say ‘I don’t like,’” Dad tells him.
“I don’t want that,” says Sassy Girl.
“We don’t say that,” Mom responds.
Friendly Boy says nothing. He fidgets as he stares at the food.
“Do you want some potatoes?” Mom asks.
“Yes,” he replies matter-of-factly.
Do you want some roast?” Dad asks.
“Yes,” Friendly Boy answers.
He says nothing else as long as there’s food on his plate. His focus is on the food. With his right hand he holds his fork, doing his best to stab meat and potatoes, then raise them to his mouth. If that doesn’t work, he uses his left hand to do the job.
When his plate is empty, his hunger still is not satisfied. He taps Mom’s arm with his fork.
“Would you like some more?” she asks.
Mom gives him another serving. As Happy Boy and Sassy Girl complain and do everything they can to avoid eating their food, Friendly Boy quietly cleans his plate, picking up small pieces of potato between his thumb and forefinger and putting them in his mouth.
Finally finished, he hands his empty plate to Mom. “Are you done?” she asks.
“Done,” he repeats with a nod.
But Friendly Boy is a growing boy. Being done doesn’t last long. Happy Boy and Sassy Girl run off to play, Dad goes to work, and Mom goes to sit down while her food settles. Friendly Boy wanders from room to room, then ends up back at the table.
He sees it immediately. Sassy Girl left her plate, still covered with barely-touched food. Without making a sound, he climbs onto her chair and digs in.
After a few minutes, Mom realizes how quiet it is. “Friendly Boy?” she calls. “What are you doing?”
She walks into the dining room and sees Friendly Boy sitting at Sassy Girl’s spot, unphased by Mom’s appearance. But Mom doesn’t get angry. Instead, she laughs. If Sassy Girl isn’t willing to eat her food, at least Friendly Boy isn’t going to let it go to waste. As long as he isn’t finishing off the Pop Tart that Sassy Girl is saving for later, Mom and Dad won’t stop him from eating his sister’s food.
Friendly Boy isn’t just a meat-and-potatoes boy. He will eat almost anything. Spaghetti and meatballs, teriyaki chicken and rice, beef stroganoff with potatoes or noodles… Like Dad, Friendly Boy is willing to try anything. And also like Dad, he does not like olives. But he doesn’t complain. If he finds the tiniest piece of an olive in his food, Friendly Boy quietly picks it off and sets it on the side of his plate, then goes on with his meal.
The only time he can’t count on finding leftovers on his sister’s plate are on Wednesdays, when Mom or Dad usually make pancakes. Pancakes are a family favorite. On Pancake Wednesday, Friendly Boy has to fight Happy Boy and Sassy Girl to get his fair share.
“I want four pancakes today,” Happy Boy declares, halfway through eating his third.
“I want four, too!” Sassy Girl chimes in, picking her way through her first.
“You need to finish the one you have,” Dad tells her, ignoring the fuss she makes.
“More,” Friendly Boy tells Mom. She puts a second pancake on his plate. He whines, continuing to stare at the plate of pancakes.
“You want another?” Mom asks.
“Hm,” he nods.
With a sigh, Mom puts another pancake on his plate. He starts to eat as Mom’s attention is pulled away by Happy Boy, asking for syrup on his pancake.
Mom has barely taken two bites of her own food before she feels the tap of Friendly Boy’s fork on her arm. She looks at his plate, already empty.
“How did you finish them so fast?” she asks.
“More,” Friendly Boy replies.
Mom gives him another and goes back to eating her food.
“More,” Friendly Boy says a minute later, eying the last two pancakes on the plate.
Shaking her head with a smile, she gives him one, hoping the others don’t notice.
“I want the last pancake,” Happy Boy says. “Then I’ll have four like Friendly Boy.”
Dad gives the last one to Happy Boy and helps him with the syrup. Mom leans over and whispers, “Friendly Boy actually had five.”
Dad turns to Mom with wide eyes, then looks at Friendly Boy as he finishes his fifth pancake. “We won’t tell Happy Boy,” Dad whispers back. “We would never hear the end of it.”