The Oddnivore slides onto the wooden chair and faces a plate heaped with slices of potatoes that glisten with oil, are specked with rosemary. He asks for a fork. He grips it at the end, as far away from the tongs as possible, and makes a few perfunctory stabs at the heap. Not working. He decides the fork is too long–that length is the problem.

“I has a spoon?”

Sure, buddy. The spoon is the same length as the fork, but the Oddnivore isn’t concerned with this element of same-ness, but fixates instead on the difference inherent in the implements. He wanted the spoon.

The Oddnivore scoops a potato into his mouth. Chews. Glances up at me. Scoops again. More chewing. Another glance at me. Then, in a flurry of movement, he’s gone, running down the hallway, socked feet pattering on bare floor. He will return to the potatoes at intervals over the next half hour, in between sprints down that hallway, bounces on the bed in the room at the end of the hall. Our hosts this evening are gracious, patient.

The Oddnivore and I are visiting my friends tonight; we are their pre-party food taste-testers, albeit informally–our invitation to Chris and Matt’s place was not dictated in this manner. It is the three-year-old-ness of the Oddnivore that has us there by 7, set to leave by 8:30, likely before any other guests arrive.

Each time the Oddnivore appears at the table, he is grinning. And I run my hand over his soft hair, and tell him not to run too close to the wood burning stove in the other room, not to accidentally hit cupboards or the oven or a person with the broom he has procured in an effort to “swip the room.”

And I suggest that he might like to sit down. Might like to finish his potatoes. They were, after all, made with him in mind.

He grins at me, turns, and asks Chris to come bounce on the bed. She follows. The Oddnivore is dictating the terms of his evening, has made our near-miss of a party into his own mini-gala, filled with running and jumping and eating–if he wants. And I am not unhappy to meanwhile turn and speak to Matt as he assembles a tart on the other side of the kitchen, and await the boisterous boy’s realization that he might like to eat once more. When he’s ready.