I used to think I knew how to feed a teenage boy. I thought I had it all figured out. After all, my mother had a black belt in feeding teenaged boys.
For my brother's teen years, my mother made mountains of food in the crock pot -- back in the 1970's when crock pots were new and exciting. Spaghetti sauce, chili, beef stew -- these were the holy trinity of crockpot cooking at our house.
For many months, when he was in high school, my brother ate two dinners. His friend Steve's mom served dinner at 5:30 every day. At our house, we ate around 7:30. So Bruce and Steve ate dinner at Steve's house, then came over to our house. Mother just chalked it up to Steve coming from a sadly poor home where they couldn't afford to properly feed a great big teenaged boy.
Then one day, Mother saw Steve's mother at the grocery store and they started talking, and discovered the horrifying truth.
The double dinner dipping stopped.
Bruce had another friend, Jim, and they went to the All You Can Eat buffet at the Pizza Inn, for many months. Then the manager of the Pizza Inn asked them not to return. Ever. Bruce and Jim could sit and eat pizza all afternoon. The place was losing money.
Michael is not a huge guy, like my brother was at 19. Michael is just not.
However, when he likes something, he likes it a lot, and he eats it a lot.
Until he's tired of it.
I try to buy some sort of snack food every week, in case Michael comes in late at night and wants to eat. Pulling out leftovers and heating them in the microwave is way too much trouble, in his world. Popping a piece of toast in the toaster is too much trouble.
Opening the fridge? He can do that but things right in front of him might as well be on the moon. He cannot see them. [Mother says testosterone affects the male's eyesight... I used to think she was joking about that...]
He CAN, however, open the pantry, pull out a box of Little Debbie something or other, and eat. For a while there, it was the Pecan Pinwheel phase.
[Don't judge. He had to eat something and I couldn't stay awake that late at night and serve him like a waitress.]
The other day in Publix I grabbed a box of pecan pinwheels and Michael looked horrified. He shook his head slowly like he was talking to a small child, "No Mom, no more pinwheels" he said as he pulled the box from my hand and put it back.
The pecan pinwheel phase was over. I hadn't been informed until I stupidly grabbed the box.
I grabbed a box of Honey Buns.
"I won't eat those," he said, as though talking to a mental patient.
I threw it in the buggy anyway. Honey buns are his default food. He always returns to them.
[This is a kid who will go hours without eating. He will never be fat.]
He is eating a honey bun now.
There are phases. The cereal phase. The instant grits phase. The toast phase.
Sunflower seeds are always popular, and thank goodness they are actually healthy. He loves fresh veggies but he will not prepare them for himself.
Wait, I must mention that during the summer when we had homegrown tomatoes ripening on the kitchen counter he would often grab one and eat it like an apple.
He came home last night at 8:30 and dinner was over and the dishes cleared away. I thought he was out for the evening, as usual. "I just ran down Stone Mountain and I AM STARVING!" he announced.
Less than 3 hours before, he had eaten an entire can of Progresso soup.
"There are no leftovers from dinner. I'm sorry," I said. "There are chicken pot pies in the freezer."
He ate a chicken pot pie. Then he ate a Honey Bun. After I went to bed, he ate a bowl of cereal and a banana, and several Almond Joys.
I have given up on breakfast, even though I have an almost religious conviction that everyone should eat breakfast.
I cooked him a fried egg on toast yesterday morning -- he's always loved fried eggs -- and when I told him to come down and eat, he wailed like he was on the way to the gallows. "NOOOOOOO! Not BREAKFAST! Not AGAIN!"
I listened to that and felt my blood pressure rising.
"All you have to say is thank you, when someone prepares a nice meal for you. That's all," I said, as I passed him on the steps. "I won't be cooking you food any more!"
That was not an idle threat. I am DONE being a short order cook, especially not for someone who may or may not feel like eating.
Now, if he is around at dinner, which is the main meal here, he can eat with us, certainly. I always make enough food. Breakfast and lunch, though, and he's on his own.
He isn't helpless.
We always have food in the house.
He can make himself an omelet. He also makes guacamole, fried rice, sandwiches, and he does great at heating up cans of soup. He will not starve.
In fact, one day he may actually get motivated to learn to cook some more foods.
One day, many years from now, I think he will thank me. He will be able to feed himself without having to go out and buy ready-made food. There were men in my dad's generation who never learned how to do anything. One of my uncles could not cook anything, ever, and had to be taught as an adult how to pour a bowl of cereal and add milk. His wife spoiled him rotten.
My father, OTOH, could make omelets, steaks and hamburgers on the grill, barbeque, and spaghetti sauce. He could open cans of stuff and heat stuff on the stove. He was very good at chopping bell peppers. He could cook breakfast sausage. Compared to most men of his generation, he was a gourmet chef.
It's a new day, and a new generation of guys.
Learn to use the crockpot, grasshopper..