Tag Archives: teenage boys

Kindness + attitude = Zack

When Zack answered a call yesterday, the caller asked if she had reached “Emily.” Zack inquired as to who was calling. “Sharon” identified herself and said she was calling for Emily.

Zack – whose voice is deeper than mine – said, “Sharon, do I sound to you like an Emily?”

When Sharon realized she had a wrong number and apologized, Zack responded, “It’s okay, Sharon. I forgive you.”

Sharon ended this perfect moment by hanging up.


So proud

Brief conversation this afternoon:

Zack, what would you like me to wear to “Eat Lunch With Your Child Day” at school tomorrow?

You’re not going to that.

How do you know?

If you’re going, I’m not even going to school tomorrow.

So that’s how that works.

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.

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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’?”


“What’s going on?”


“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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

Spring break

Zack got it in his head on Monday that he wanted to do something adventurous during Spring Break this week.  Susan is still getting used to her brand-new hip and Lauren has a different vacation schedule, so we hadn’t planned to do any adventuring as a family.  Sorry, Bud – you’re kind of on your own this time.

Several pretty hefty squalls dumped rain on us at the beginning of the week, a couple of them spiced up with some thunder and lightning.  Apparently that kind of weather gets Zack thinking about camping, of all things.  Out came the tent, and in between storm cells Lauren and Zack and his pals Hunter and Ben and I quickly set it up on the back deck.  The temperature was all of 43 degrees with enough wind that we had to nail down several corners of the tent to keep it from blowing away.

As soon as the tent went up, more rain came down.  Spot checks revealed no leaks, so the boys hauled in sleeping bags, Therm-a-rest pads, extra blankets, quilts, and pillows.  We ran an extension cord out the bathroom window so they could have enough light to play cards.

In keeping with the camping adventure, we had burgers by candlelight and made s’mores in the woodstove downstairs; didn’t even drip melted marshmallows and chocolate on the carpet.  After dinner the boys disappeared into the tent, and we could hear them talking and laughing above the howling wind and sound of rain pounding on the roof.

I didn’t even think of telling good scary stories, although I startled the boys by using my bullhorn to announce ‘lights out’ time.  (Zack said at first he thought it might be a tsunami warning coming from the nearby ferry dock.)  Other nocturnal sounds included two neighbors who didn’t remember until quite late to roll their garbage and recycling containers down long driveways for early morning pick-up.

One other thing in keeping with the spirit of camping:  none of the boys came in the house to use the bathroom during the night.  Guess that one’s a no brainer.

The morning air was full of songbirds greeting the new day.  Don’t know if it was that concert or the noise of garbage trucks working their way up and back down the street that woke the boys earlier than we expected.  They were dressed, pleasant, and conversational when they came into the kitchen.  But after devouring a pancake breakfast, they retreated to the basement (not back into the tent) for a short nap.

Aren’t vacations great?

Can we get takeout?

Even though we started the practice about two years ago, it often seems to come as a surprise to Zack that Monday night is his turn to fix dinner.  I suppose it’s progress, then, that he was thinking about dinner while in the chair at his orthodontist appointment on Monday afternoon.  He began this text message exchange while I was in the waiting room:

Can we please get takeout from some place?  Pleeeeaaassseeee?

You paying?

Of course not.  My money tree is but a sapling.  And I have made dinner every time I was home for the past forever.

I was glad to realize that some of the conversations about the money tree are taking root.  Meanwhile, we had some good leftovers in the fridge, so Zack’s workload as chef-du-jour was minimal, and he liked what we had enough to go back for seconds and thirds.