Sunday, June 14, 2009

I'm going to need a second job to feed this kid!

Published June 14, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Two weeks ago, I bought 6 and a half dozen eggs at the local wholesale store. I usually only buy the big case of five dozen, but I threw on the extra 18 pack in a fit of what I thought was genius. “This will make them last longer,” I thought to myself, thoroughly satisfied with my ingenuity. They were gone in a week and a half.

As I stood in my kitchen and surveyed the empty box of eggs, I looked to my children for the answer to the mystery. Four of them stepped forward and responded in unison: “Ray!”

My oldest child has half a year until he can officially call himself a teenager, and it seems his appetite is not willing to wait. I make sure he gets a full, balanced diet of meals and snacks, and he makes sure he gets a full, balanced diet of meals and snacks in addition to that.

The boy wakes up early in the morning to eat, steps away from family activities and play time to eat, and lies awake in his bed at night so he can sneak into the kitchen and eat after my husband and I have gone to bed. At any given moment, my house smells distinctly of fried eggs, cinnamon toast, quesadillas, and ramen noodles. If my house tasted like microwaveable chimichangas, I think he would literally eat us out of house and home.

About a week ago, we had lasagna for dinner, which happens to be Ray’s favorite. Every few bites were punctuated by anxious shouts. “Don’t take it all!” “What? She gets more?” “Hey! I was going to have that!” When I reminded him he was already on his third helping while most of the family had only eaten a first, his head snapped up and he said, eyes wide with panic, “I’ll be able to get fourths, right?”

It was at this point in this column that I realized my son might not enjoy having his adventures in food published in the pages of a newspaper for both friends and strangers to read. Pulling Ray away from his fifth snack of the morning, I read the preceding paragraphs to him and formally asked him if I could submit this to my editor. His response: “Ooooh! Can we have lasagna tonight?”

I really don’t mind that he eats as much as he does. I understand that puberty is upon us (I’m going to hide under my bed and cry when that actually hits me) and he needs all these extra calories to grow. He’s reaching the stage in life at which boys outgrow their mothers (I’m going to kick and scream and punch the dust bunnies under my bed when that actually hits me) and that stage requires a man sized appetite.

I just wish I had planned better for this. If we’re going to go through 223 eggs in one month (and I haven’t even mentioned the amount of bread, fruit, tortillas, and cheese the kid puts away), we’re going to have to increase our grocery budget significantly. I should have started socking money away in a CD or mutual fund when he was a baby. At the very least, I could have put him to work delivering papers or mowing lawns when he was five or six to build up a teen appetite savings.

For now, I’m coming up with ideas for how to feed this growing boy without selling one of the cars or resorting to a life of crime. So far, I’ve got “Pray for raises” and “Shop at the dollar store” on the list. Nothing else is forthcoming.

I had “Save money by giving up chocolate” on the list, but I took it off because it’s just not practical.