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Three Little Words

Three Little Words

My teenaged boy has an appetite like an animal. And when he says “what’s for dinner” I am the zookeeper.

by

As a Jewish mother, it is my joy, my obligation - my obsession? - to feed people. I am never so happy as when I lay out a huge spread for the holidays and everyone eats until they cannot move. No sight is better than to see the entire family sufficiently stuffed, with slightly dazed expressions, mumbling how wonderful everything tasted. But feeding teenage boys does not give you that same satisfaction. No matter how much they eat, they are never full! My 15 year old always seems be hungry and, therefore, always a little bit cranky.

‘Um, you just ate two bagels . . .?’ ‘That was a snack mom.’

But, he can also be very sweet. When I come home after a hard day’s work, he will often give me a hug. And he will utter those 3 little words every mother expects to hear at the end of a long day 'what’s for dinner?'

He can scarf down two bagels loaded with all kinds of toppings and then ask me ‘what’s for dinner?’ ‘Um, you just ate two bagels . . .?’ ‘That was a snack mom.’

A snack. He just ate my total caloric intake for the day and that was a snack.

I roll my eyes and tell him to have some fruit or something if he’s still hungry.

But no matter what is in the fridge he goes there and is disappointed. You know the routine - they peer inside, look over the contents and yell: ‘Mooooom there’s nothing to eat – what’s for dinner?’

There are literally a dozen yogurts, peaches, cheese sticks, leftover chicken and some mangoes rolling around in there for easy snacking. But he doesn’t want those – oh no, I know what he wants - he wants me to cook him something. This is confirmed when two seconds later he shouts ‘can you make me some eggs?’

I taught him to cook eggs, he knows how, but when I remind him of this fact, he gives me the puppy dog eyes and that line we moms hear all too often ‘but you make them so much better, mom – please?’ He then grabs a yogurt to tide him over while I start taking my frustration out on those poor eggs. Good thing he likes scrambled . . . I almost shout over to him ‘do you also want toast’ and then I start laughing – like I need to ask if he wants toast? Ha! The only question would be how much toast! But I know the answer to that question too: ‘however much you can give me!’ I grab the bread and butter and using all my mommy skills get the hot eggs and buttered toast on the plate all at the same time.

The plate looks so pretty, but no one will notice because his food radar has gone off and he swoops in just as I finish plating, grabs the food, and runs off with it as if he was some poor starving waif.

‘Well’, I think, ‘he’ll be good for a little while at least! Now I can get back to what I was doing!’ So, I start doing the laundry and as I’m walking through the house with my basket I hear ‘So, mom, what’s for dinner?’

I stiffen and look back over my shoulder and he cracks up. He is all happy because I made him his eggs. This will last maybe 15 minutes. I scurry off to the garage to get the laundry going before the food wears off.

Sometimes I feel like I am living with a hungry lion. Maybe if I throw a steak at him, he’ll let me pass.

I know I’m not alone in my plight. All of us moms of teenage boys are experiencing his. My friend went on a cruise with her son and posted a picture of his breakfast plate – bagels, pancakes, eggs, and all kinds of other food, overflowing. She was very wise to take a 15 year old boy on a cruise. Round the clock food for him and she doesn’t have to cook any of it! Now that’s a vacation!

I know what you’re thinking: ‘She must be exaggerating. Just buy some cold cuts and some bread, he can make himself a sandwich’. Believe me, I do that! And he does make himself a sandwich – in fact he makes two, or even three, sandwiches! And when I get home from work I'm told there is nothing to eat. Because he has already eaten it!

All the clerks in the grocery stores know me. They have stopped commenting that we must really love pineapple when I buy three because he eats an entire pineapple as a snack. They don’t laugh at how many yogurts or cheese sticks or boxes of granola bars go down the belt. They don’t make any comments when I buy 4 big boxes of cereal – every few days! They know that for a teenage boy those big boxes are individual serving size.

Ah yes, cereal – that is a challenge. You see, I don’t have enough big bowls. You’re thinking he could just use a soup bowl right? Ha! Soup bowls are way too small. You need big mixing bowls – serving bowls for salad things like that. My friend told me once they were on vacation and the kitchenette didn’t have any big bowls so the boys used pots for their cereal. Sounded about right to me . . .

So, my grocery bills are high, and the mound of dishes in the sink is growing, and so is my little boy! His shirts are too short, his shoes are too small – but his appetite is tremendous! You know, the clothing bills are getting almost as bad as the food bills!

However, for all my complaining about the cost of raising my teenager, I know I need to cherish these last few years we have together before he moves out on his own. I know that there will come a day when I miss doing all this shopping and cooking. A day when I wish I could see his little puppy dogs eyes, and hear his sweet voice saying those 3 little words, ‘What’s For Dinner?’

But for now, there is no time to waste on sentiment. I must run, because it's 10:30 and I only have half an hour to get to the store before they close - we're out of cereal again.

May 5, 2018

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Ann Cassouto, May 7, 2018 5:50 PM

Another terrific article from Karen! We moms can relate and have survived!

Karen has it spot on with her comments about everything that everyone can relate to. Wonderful! We have all survived these experiences!.

(1) Mom of Teen, May 6, 2018 8:23 PM

Bottomless Pit-agers!

I'm totally with you! My son is nearly 15 and he eats like there is no tomorrow! My food bills have tripled since he reached his teens but his constant refrain is still "What's there to eat?"

To be fair, he is taller than me already and I could wear his shoes if I wanted to dress up like a clown..

G-d bless 'em - they should just all be healthy!

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