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Keeping up with the endless appetite of the man-child

Posted November 6

 (Deseret Photo)

They warned me this day would come. The day my teenage son’s shoe size exploded and our grocery bill doubled. Our household hasn’t been the same since.

I look with longing at couples in the grocery aisle buying their single baguette, two apples and tiny blocks of cheese the size of a pack of playing cards. It’s like they live in a dollhouse or a mouse nest, nibbling delicately on their miniscule portions.

Meanwhile, I seem to live in the land of giants. Serving sizes have gone out the window. I buy apples by the crate. A dozen scrambled eggs only barely covers breakfast. If you peeked in my fridge right now, you’d see three blocks of cheese, each roughly the size of a bread loaf. The men in the house get little panicky when we drop below four gallons of milk.

I pride myself in keeping a well-stocked pantry, plus main fridge, backup fridge and deep freezer, because running out of food is worse than running out of clean underwear. It is unforgivable.

But here’s the thing: All those masses of food will be cleaned out in a week’s time. You will come and see a pauper’s pantry, stocked with nothing but lentils and a few stray cans of olives.

Which is why, when I go to the doctor and fill out all those info forms and they ask about my profession, I always hesitate. I could say journalist, but the reality is I spend most of my time either cooking food or wandering the grocery aisle wondering what will stick to my boys’ ribs so they’re not eating every 15 minutes. Peanut butter? Sausage? Sticks of butter dipped in chocolate? A block of cheese the size of the family dog?

There are definite plusses to feeding a crew of boys. For one, my math skills are awesome, especially my fractions. I can triple or quadruple any recipe with a single twirl of the measuring cups. My biceps have doubled in size hefting milk cartons, watermelons and whole frozen chickens. Most important, in a pinch, I can conjure a meal out of nothing but white rice and bread crumbs.

The sweet reward is the look on my sons’ faces when I feed them. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. That is true tenfold for teenage boys. All they ask from their mothers are mated socks and a hearty meal.

Which is why dinner at our house resembles a medieval feast, with me unveiling platters of food to cheers and applause. The hungry lords of the manor gnaw through chicken, fish, great heaps of bread, salad, roasted vegetables and fresh fruit. All that’s missing are the hound dogs, chewing on the bones at their feet. If I reveal some sort of surprise dessert, it’s as if I’ve performed a magic spell right there in my kitchen.

That’s when being a mother to these man-children is most satisfying. I have done my work. I have succeeded.

Except.

A half hour later, I hear the creak of a cupboard in the kitchen, the familiar clink of bowl on spoon.

I go into my spotless kitchen to investigate.

Four boys sit hunched around the table, mowing their way through a box of Cheerios.

They look at me with wide, innocent eyes. “What?” they say through mouthfuls of milk. “We were starving.”

Tiffany Gee Lewis runs the website Raise the Boys at raisetheboys.com, dedicated to rearing creative, kind, courageous and competent boys. Follow it on Instagram and Twitter at raisetheboys. Email: tiffanyelewis@gmail.com

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