Having raised a two-legged eating machine and managed to keep all my fingers, I will now pass on my words of wisdom to new parents.
Do not be fooled by how your eating machine insinuates himself into your household. He arrives as a small, cute package that, despite not having a tooth in his head, grins at you a lot. Little does the new parent know this is simply a ploy to ingratiate himself to the Bottle Delivery Team (BDT) and thus ensure they keep the formula coming.
Again, do not be fooled.
Note the pig-like grunts that occasionally issue from that tiny mouth while the eating machine (technically called a Stationary Eating Machine (SEM) at this stage) sucks down a bottle.
Note the SEM’s reaction when the BDT is even a nanosecond late getting a bottle delivered. The world ends. Though words are not his thing just yet, the SEM makes clear he is stuck with a couple of incompetent schmucks who can’t deliver one lousy bottle to the mouth of a starving infant in under a life time. Even after the bottle is delivered there is often a grunt or two of reprimand. The general translation being: “Horsewhipping is too good for them.”
This is a indication of things to come.
Faster than you can say, “When’s lunch ready?” your SEM morphs into a one-hundred-plus-pound Mobile Eating Machine (MEM). This happens around the teen years.
A MEM spends most of his day in parts unknown with his friends. When he eventually circles back around to the homestead, immediately upon darkening the doorway he announces that he is “starving to death.”
The statement “starving to death” carries with it many connotations, not unlike Aloha in the Hawaiian dialect means more than one thing. A pronouncement of “starving to death” is not only a description of the MEM’s current condition, but it is an accusatory statement directed at the MEM’s mother. “What kind of mother allows a MEM to get into this condition in the first place?” the MEM is saying. “Food was not ready the moment I entered the premises,” the MEM is saying. “Starving to death” is also a call to action for the MEM’s mother to attain sustenance for the MEM right away lest the MEM collapses on the floor and dissolves into nothingness before her guilt-ridden eyes.
The uninformed mother responds to the “starving to death” statement with some such nonsense as “Supper will be ready in thirty minutes.” As if a MEM can wait thirty minutes! The MEM is dangerously close to perishing now! Some form of tiding over sustenance must be provided. His mother’s statement demonstrates her cruel insensitivity to the MEM’s condition as far as the MEM is concerned. The wise mother provides the MEM a pre-supper morsel to avoid tragedy. She does so cautiously. Experience has taught her not to get too close to the biting end of a starving MEM. She tosses the food item to him from at least four paces back to prevent her hands and fingers from becoming collateral damage.
It should be noted your average MEM does not bother to direct the “starving to death” pronouncement to his father. Where his mother tends to react by fixing the MEM something to eat, the MEM’s father makes non-sensical statements back to the MEM on the order of having “two good hands” and\or citing the MEM’s age. Comments of this nature makes no sense to the MEM, especially a MEM whose mind is clouded by starvation. Here he is dying and the man wants to discuss hands and peoples’ ages? Bizarre?
On the rare, tragic occasion when the MEM is forced to prepare his own food, the MEM often declares “There is no food in this house!” This statement loosely translates into: “We are out of Hot Pockets!”
The term “food” to a MEM who is forced to feed himself means anything you can remove from a freezer, stuff into a microwave and press a button to prepare. Science has proven a MEM capable of playing hours of uninterrupted basketball lacks the energy to construct a baloney sandwich without succumbing to complete exhaustion. The same holds true for opening a can of soup or taking out the garbage for that matter (but that is another story)/.
Experienced MEM parents will find this hard to believe but there are actually mothers out there who immediately put away food after breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s true. Food is placed in containers, sealed up and deposited in the refrigerator. This is extremely upsetting to a MEM who, less than an hour after feeding returns for a re-feeding.
MEMs feed and re-feed throughout the day.
“Where is all the food?” the MEM will inquire thirty minutes after he just ate.
“It’s in the refrigerator,” the MEM’s mother will inform him, as if that is some kind of answer to his dilemma. The implication completely escapes the MEM. It is almost if she is suggesting the MEM pulls the leftovers out of the refrigerator and re-heats them himself.
The mother is lucky the MEM does not call Social Services on her.
A relative of mine just became the mother of her first two-legged eating machine. She was feeding him a bottle and commented, “My goodness, he wolfed down that one quick.”
We just looked at one another and smiled.