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

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3 responses to this post.

  1. […] to get used to you being gone. We’ve adjusted to your empty bedroom, our earlier bed times, and the lower food bills, not to mention the […]

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  2. […] the snark. Often, when my son misses breakfast and lunch because he has slept through both meals he gets snarky. I WILL NOT ENGAGE! I will simply tune him out like a teenager engaging with his or her parents. I […]

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  3. […] Every year the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) adds new words to its online dictionary. This year’s crop was very exciting for me because the word “hangry” (meaning, “bad tempered or irritable because of hunger”) made the cut and, about four years ago I used that word in a piece called, Feeding the Hangry. […]

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