[The following column was printed in The Forum, North Dakota’s largest daily newspaper, on February 1, 2011. Reprinted with permission.]
But somehow I missed the build-up, distracted as I was, most likely by the shrill call of our youngest, then 4, from the bowels of the downstairs bathroom: “Maaaahhm! Wipe!”
It’s true; I’d no sooner stepped out of the Bottom-Wiping Zone when another strange family phenomenon began overtaking our household: The Never-Ending Teenage Appetite.
It began with primal sounds of an animal apparently in mortal danger. They emanated throughout the house, from within heater vents and around every corner: “Meat! Need more meat!”
I jumped at the strangeness of the words, if not the crazed look of the one standing before me, eyes wild, saliva running down his mouth.
It was my 14-year-old son in need of an afternoon snack, of course. Once the pickiest of eaters, he now had within him the one thing I was sure he’d never possess: an appetite.
Now a year later, the grumbling stomach of the ravenous teen beast has yet to be quelled. “Juice! Need juice!” It comes every hour on cue, as if he’s regressed to the days of being fed by “sippy cup,” though now in gallon portions instead of ounces.
We’re fools to believe the delicate angels delivered to us at birth will remain as such. Eventually, they all transform into teenagers, and when they do, watch out!
Some signs a teenage type may have invaded your home:
- When the grocery-delivery vehicle pulls up, you think you’re seeing double. It dawns on you that two vans are now required to manage your order.
- Examining your food bill, you realize the saying “Eaten out of house and home” was to be taken literally.
- As such, you begin scouring real-estate ads, wondering if downsizing would allow you to support both your mortgage and hungry teen son.
- While out doing errands, you find an extensive text from your daughter requesting a few “necessities”: shaving cream, razors, makeup, mouth wash and a new wardrobe. (Strike one for that dream trip in 10 years.)
- At noon on Saturday, you begin having flashbacks to when it was just the two of you and a couple young kids; the teens are lifeless in the back rooms, asleep.
- At 2 p.m., said teens emerge and fix themselves a “snack” – two frozen pizzas and a jug of milk.
- The customer service representative for your cell phone company begins shaking while reviewing your bill, claiming he’s been with the company a decade and has never seen so much texting activity.
Two down, three to go.
Like I said, it isn’t as if I wasn’t warned.
Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, parent five children.