When my boys were young, I used to say, “I can’t wait until you eat me out of house and home.” I meant it. I looked forward to the time when they would eat nonstop, morphing into tall, strapping, strong young men.
During their baby and toddler years, they were rather picky eaters. Luke was always willing to try new fruits but not vegetables. He liked some pretty weird stuff for a kid, like kiwis and mangoes. Today, at seventeen, he’ll devour tomatoes, mushrooms, and potatoes but absolutely nothing that comes in any shade of green. So he never eats tomatoes if they dare to mingle in a bowl with lettuce and look even remotely like a salad. He’ll eat mushrooms only if they’re sautéed first—sans onions—and mixed with pasta. And he’ll eat his weight in baked or mashed white potatoes but not their orange cousin, the sweet tater. Picky, picky, picky.
With Jake, it wasn’t just a strange flavor that he objected to; it was often the texture of a food that was offensive to him. As a baby, he sealed his lips against any pureed meats that came in little glass jars. I’m loathe to remember how much perfectly good meaty goo I tossed out. Even now, at fifteen, he won’t eat things most of us consider pretty likable: grapes, blueberries, peaches. Anything with a skin is off-limits. Oddly enough, he loves strawberries. You know, those odd little fruits with their seeds on the outside. Talk about texture!
As much as I adore dragging my teenage cherubs along on my weekly Walmart runs, my budget and I usually end up regretting it. Luke immediately disappears. The kid is like lightning. Every so often, he emerges from the overstocked wilderness, carrying an armload of items, which he promptly deposits in the shopping cart and which may include any or all of the following: candy, yogurt (“the good kind”), Gatorade, ginger ale, beef jerky, cheese, ham. . . . The list goes on. He grows an average of three inches a day so it makes sense that he eats nonstop. Still . . .
The other day I stopped in the bread aisle to talk to my neighbor for a few minutes. It was a rookie mistake. I should have known better. While I was preoccupied, into the already-overloaded cart went ice cream, apples, bananas, cupcakes, and frozen pizza.
I have never seen two people consume so much food. A freshly baked loaf of banana bread disappears within hours. Fresh fruit meets the same fate. Hunks of fried chicken are stripped to the bone in the time it takes me to ask someone to please pass the salt. Potato chips, crackers, whole packages of ham and sliced cheese, gallons of ice cream, milk, juice—it all vanishes as if the house were filled with a pack of wolves with unlimited access to the refrigerator (and opposable thumbs, of course).
Since we’re on the subject of eating, let’s discuss what I like to call Luke’s Supremely Stupid Seven-Minute Rule. He heard on an episode of Man V. Food that you can polish off a huge plate of food—presumably while you’re participating in some senseless eating competition—if you do it within seven minutes because that’s how long it takes your stomach to signal your brain that you’re full and should stop feeding your big, fat, greedy mouth as though you’re never going to eat again. (More wolf-like behavior.) So a mere seven minutes after sitting down to dinner, Luke has already excused himself from the table and gone to his room to lie down because he has a—gasp!—stomachache. Who could have seen that coming? I’ve tried to tell him that the real gauge is closer to twenty minutes, that he’s causing his body unnecessary stress, and that he’s kind of an idiot. He’ll figure it out eventually.
Be careful what you wish for.