Archive for May, 2011

Feeding the Hangry

“I’m so hungry and there is NOTHING TO EAT!”

And so begins the after school fun.

My 15-year-old will stand in front of an open refrigerator teeming with food—yogurt, wedges of multiple types of cheese, tortillas for quesadillas, frozen ravioli, drawers full of fruit and lunch meat, 3 different kinds of bread, frozen pizzas, 2 kinds of peanut butter, 3 different jellies, eggs (uncooked and hardboiled), and every kind of condiment you can imagine—and complain that there is no food in the fridge.

This is usually followed by words that make my blood boil: “Make me SOMETHING!”

Keeping up with the food intake of a 15-year-old boy is a very time-consuming (not to mention, expensive) proposition. My son needs to eat at least every 2 hours or he becomes Hangry – no, it’s not a typo – he becomes so hungry that he becomes angry and nobody needs a teenager who is angrier than usual.

He is capable of consuming an entire sub sandwich, a large bag of chips, yogurt and fruit and he’ll finish all of this off with a bowl of cereal. That’s between 3:30 and 3:45. By 4:15 he is starving!

So, what does he do? Does he then sort through the pantry and whip up a satisfying snack? Does he sift through his memories to find one of the endless recipes that I have painstakingly demonstrated to him should he find himself hungry and alone? No, of course not.  He waits for me to make him something or he grabs a completely unsatisfying cereal bar and moans until dinner.

I have been saying for years that he would starve to death if someone weren’t there to feed him. And whose fault is this? Mine. I take all the blame for this one.  I have gratefully fed him all of these years because he loves food—especially my food. What mother wouldn’t want to hear her child gush about how good her food is? “You’re the best cooker,” he told me when he was 5 as he inhaled whatever dish I put in front of him. That was cute then. Now, not so much.

So the other day, while he was begging me to make him some spinach ravioli with browned butter and shaved Parmesan (yes, yes, I’ve spoiled him, I know!), I turned to him and said: “No – make it yourself.”

“But I don’t know how,” he insisted. “And you’re right here. You could make it better.”

“Pretend I’m dead,” I responded. He turned to me in horror.
“What?” he asked.

“Pretend I’m dead,” I repeated. “How would you eat?”

I could see the wheels turning.  Should he demonstrate his limited cooking skills and make a quesadilla or should he pour another bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios?

It’s usually around this time – right after I’ve thrown down the gauntlet and demanded that he learn to take care of himself that I start to feel myself back-peddling. Would it really be so horrible to continue to cook for him while he lives at home? Couldn’t I just baby him a little while longer, he’ll be gone in a few years, right?

The reality is he would eventually find food or find a way to make food. He likes food far too much to subsist on sugar cereal and frozen waffles. He even signed up for a Creative Cuisine class next year at school. But why would he ever put any of those skills to use if I’m around to feed him? And should a 15-year-old have to?

What’s worse: not feeding your child who is asking for food or not teaching your child to fend for himself?

I feel my defenses breaking down. I’m just about to break out the pots and pans when he decides to answer me.

“If you weren’t around to feed me…I’d order take out.”

Problem solved.

Originally posted on acontrolledsubstance.com on May 29, 2011

I Made My Sick Kid Cry

I made my sick kid cry.

No, I’m not a monster, it’s just that he was perched on the couch, ordering his third $4.99 pay-per-view movie in as many days, and I was beginning to feel a bit manipulated.

Lest you think I am totally clueless, he did start out with red, crusty eyes and dark eye circles and he was rather pale so I know that he had been sick. We even went to the doctor where he was given eye drops and I was scolded for letting him go to a water park (aka a giant Petri dish) where no one knows what diseases lurk around the edges of the pool. But that was day one. Even day two seemed legitimate, but by day three, I had my doubts. So, I decided to whip out my slightly rusty, legal skills and cross-examine my 11-year-old.

I started off well. I sat next to him, wiped the hair off his forehead and pretended to check for the fever that I knew was not there:

“So, I think you should go to school today,” I said very tenderly.

No response.

I stood up and blocked the TV. “Are you listening to me?” I asked.  “I said, that I think you seem a lot better so you should go to school today.”

He shifted on the couch to get a better view of Jack Black as Gulliver.
“You know, I don’t really think that you are sick enough to be staying home from school.”

Still no response.

(Here is where I start to pick up steam) “In fact, it seems that the only time that you are really sick is when I ask you to get off the couch. (Louder now) “I’m sure that if I told you that you could have a friend over, right now, you would suddenly perk up.”(Wait, it gets better…) “If you stay home today you don’t get to use the computer, or the TV or any video games, you can read a book. In fact,” (almost yelling now) you can sit in your room. If you were really sick you would be sleeping!”

I turned off the TV with a flourish and pointed toward the staircase to his room.

I knew I lost it. I mean, really? All sick kids take to their beds? What was I talking about?
I never did that – I spent the day on the couch and watched TV when I was sick just like every other kid.

So, here I am, knowing that I’ve gone too far (even the dog abandoned me by this point) when my son’s tears start to flow. “You never believe me!” he wailed.

And still I hesitated. My son is quite dramatic, you see, so usually the tears don’t clinch it right away. (I once found him lying on the floor, clutching his chest and gasping for air, howling that he couldn’t breathe in the winter coat that I insisted he wear– in February, in Chicago. So, yes, he is quite dramatic.)

But this time it was real: the shaking shoulders, the runny nose, the blubbering. He’s a good actor, but not that good.

So, after many hugs and many apologies for my outburst, I reached for the phone to call the school to let them know that he would be out for another day.  Just as I picked up the phone, it rang. It was the nurse calling from the doctor’s office to tell me that my son had strep throat and needed antibiotics.

So, like all people who suddenly feel very sick, I took to my couch to watch TV…just like my kid.

 

Originally published on acontrolledsubstance.com on May 7, 2011


Sex Talk

I’ve been thinking a lot about sex lately – sex education that is. My younger son is heading off to health class next week where they will hear, among other things, the “sex talk.” I just don’t know if he needs any advance prep. For all I know he’s quite knowledgeable about the whole topic – he does have an older brother after all — but I feel like I am shirking my duties as a parent if I don’t at least attempt to sit him down and discuss the birds and the bees.

Why, you may ask, would this job fall to me if I have a husband who lives with us? Well, as it just so happens, I am not the only adult in the house who sucks at being a parent. Maybe that’s not fair but, at the very least, my husband sucks at talking to our boys about sex, which means that that discussion falls to me.

That doesn’t seem fair either. I’m a girl and they are boys – a boy should be giving the boy sex talk. He’s already familiar with the parts and the stuff that boys do that, thank God, I’m not privy to. But, alas, he has failed.

Let me back up a bit. I had the discussion with our oldest son by accident, if that’s possible, when he was in 4th grade. I didn’t go buy a book and pick a time to have “the talk”; we were just sitting at the kitchen counter talking about nothing when he turned to me and said: “What does the “F” word mean?”

He explained that he wanted to know what it meant because if he wasn’t allowed to use it he should at least know why. I decided that if I was going to tell him what “filed under carnal knowledge” actually meant, in all it’s incarnations, then I should start with the most popular explanation. So, I launched into a discussion about eggs and sperm and all the technical stuff.

This was met with a fair amount of “icks” and “gross” and the uncomfortable question of “Have you done it?” But, all-in-all, I thought it went well. I just slid that discussion in and when he stopped asking questions I promptly stopped talking.

Fast forward three years.

My husband and our younger son were driving somewhere when our youngest (who was then 8 years old) asked my husband where babies come from. To his credit, he started out strong. He mentioned the egg but never really got past that. You see, at the mention of an egg, our son asked, “you mean like a chicken?” and like all cowardly dads faced with a long and embarrassing discussion about sperm and oral sex and wet dreams he answered, “yes! Just like a chicken.” And that was that.

So, here I am trying to figure out a way to start this discussion. I considered bribing our 15-year-old to do it (bad idea and a total cop-out); I considered buying a book and leaving it on the kitchen counter (“oh, where did that come from? Let’s talk about it…); but, finally, I’ve decided that the best way to handle this would be to let him hear about it first and correct it later. Bad idea, total cop-out? Maybe, but I won’t know until it’s too late. It could go something like this: “yes, there is an egg…yes, just like a chicken.”

Good thing he’s my last kid.

Originally published on acontrolledsubstance.com on May 1, 2011


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