Zack and His Man-Size Appetite

A friend brought over some homemade hot cross buns the other day.  I looked forward to eating one of them for breakfast the next morning, but when I came out to the kitchen they were nowhere to be found.  Dang.  Zack and His Man-Size Appetite beat me to the punch.  Or in this case, to the hot cross buns.

It’s happening more and more often.  For a 14 year-old who is in the tenth percentile for weight and all but disappears when he turns sideways, this kid can really put away food.

* * * * * * * * * *

We used to be concerned if we got a call from Zack during the school day:

“What’s up, Bud?  You okay?”

Now we’re more likely to get a call like this:

“Hey Bud.”

“Hi Dad.”

“How ya doin’?”

“Good.

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Uh – you called me, didn’t you?”

“Oh yeah.  What’s for dinner?”

It’s the first thing he wants to know when he comes in the door.  And if he’s awake enough in the morning, it may be the last thing he wants to know before he leaves for school.

* * * * * * * * * *

A recent sports physical showed that Zack is in great shape but could use more calcium.  When the kids were little, dairy products seemed to inflame congestion or other respiratory ailments.  Part of the solution was switching to rice milk, which we’ve been putting  on our cereal for years.  But the kids never come home and pour themselves an ice cold glass of rice milk.  When asked about drinking regular milk again to boost their calcium intake, they both cast enthusiastic yes votes.

Zack had a couple of friends stay overnight during spring break.  Susan and I hit the grocery store to lay in some extra provisions, including milk.  Hate to admit this now that I’ve had a few days to observe actual consumption, but we initially thought a half-gallon might last for a week.  A momentary lapse in judgment.  We got a gallon – and were back for another one three days later.

* * * * * * * * * *

Zack was getting over a cold, and the last symptoms disappeared about the same time that first gallon of milk did.  He told us he’d been feeling much better “since he started drinking milk.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Today a couple of Zack’s friends came over after school.  One guy headed straight to the refrig and poured himself a big glass of moo.  A short while later he was back for another one.  Wow.  I only saw Zack (and Lauren) drink one big glass each today, but guess what?  We’re out of milk.

* * * * * * * * * *

Zack and His Man-Size Appetite have taken a special  interest in meat which roughly parallels the period in which he’s grown about five inches.  During one of Susan’s recent weekend cooking frenzies, she had a big batch of hot-and-sour soup and a bigger batch of white bean chili going on the stove.  Zack appeared in the kitchen as soon as she began browning a pork roast.  It was like those cartoons in which a wisp of smoke curls into a beckoning finger right under a character’s nose and draws them irresistibly toward the source of an aroma.  “Is that for dinner?” His hopeful (or was it lean and hungry?) expression turned to one of disappointment when Susan explained that it would be divided between the batches of soup and the chili.

* * * * * * * * * *

Homemade meals that used to feed four now feed three.  If there are leftovers after dinner, we don’t count on them being available for the next evening meal; Zack and His Man-Size Appetite can easily transform Last Night’s Dinner into This Afternoon’s Snack.  It’s not a given that Dad’s portion of a meal is larger than others.  In fact, it sometimes feels as though I’m competing for scarce food resources and may need to bury things in the yard if I want to eat them later.

Of course this phenomenon is not new to parents of teenage boys.  But when something like Zack and His Man-Size Appetite starts to appear in your own home, it’s a wonder to behold.

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