Is It Just My Boy Or Do All Six Year Old Children Develop An Insatiable Appetite For More?

20/02/2017 15:43

More what?

More of most things without restraint, another five minutes wrestling, some more time playing with Lego, the chocolate bar at the checkout, a toy moments after Christmas and birthdays pass. At the moment though, the big thing is, MORE BREAKFAST!

My dad used to call me "Mr Can I Have" and it's coming back to bite me on the wallet.

Between 6:30 and 7 on a weekday (while juggling a shower, putting on a shirt and tie, sorting out a packed lunch and school uniform, trying to push the anxieties of geopolitical issues and teaching plans to the back cupboard of my brain) I become an a la carte chef. On a weekend I could set up some sort of conveyor arrangement like a sushi bar to satiate the consistent request for another course of breakfast.

He's six and he's healthy. I'm quite interested in fitness and nutrition and I share that interest with my son. There are certain things I've disallowed, brutal possibly, snobbish (some might say), but in a world where I have to decide where my time and energy goes; I'm completely fine with spending more time on being aware of the things that fuel the both of us.

I don't allow chocolate before midday, if any at all (except at Christmas), that means (wincing) no chocolate based cereals. I know that they're a popular breakfast staple, there's a pretty good reason as to why though, it's all about the sugar. I'd say I'm most vigilant about sugar and ingredients that have destructive methods of production.

With that said, the rate and speed at which courses are devoured makes my head spin some mornings, I find myself raising an eyebrow and questioning my judgement as he asks for a piece of fruit while spooning the final morsel of porridge in his mush.

There are phrases I can hear my dad saying to me, stock phrases he'd wheel out when in company to catch a laugh. They became lovingly cliched for me after a while. One was a reference to me being a "garbage disposal". I recall returning from gym sessions at fifteen years old and glugging a pint of milk before foraging through cupboards.

The thought of my son being as big as me, with the teenage appetite of a potential six foot four frame makes me think about remortgaging.

The reality is that food can be moments of loveliness interspersed with the voice in my head saying, "oh my land, would you stop asking for more food", while I sigh and rationalise that he's growing and probably is hungry so I gesture to the fridge and mention the yoghurt.

What do we get through in the early hours?

Usually we start with porridge or a cinnamon and raisin bagel or scrambled eggs on toast. If the porridge comes first then the bagel will probably follow. This is interspersed with a piece of fruit, possibly a squeezy yoghurt, he's asked for a cheese string a number of times (another one I generally say no to, although cheese on toast is his national dish so that's allowed).

This may be followed by a crumpet on the way to the car or a box of raisins. If I've planned well and have the ingredients, the best course is the super appetite destroyer. It's one I hold in reserve for the times when I feel he needs to stop for a number of hours. It also helps to get leafy greens into him, although he does tend to munch on spinach leaves quite freely.

Super appetite destroyer smoothie

Handful of frozen berries
Splash of apple juice
Handful of kale
Handful of spinach
One banana
Half an avocado

It doesn't look like the most appetising dish but it tastes fantastic and it seems to plug the bottomless pit until lunchtime (when school can deal with his Tasmanian Devil hangriness).

Of course, as we all know, the appetite for more doesn't stop at food.

I consider myself fairly rational and will, at times, treat him to something: a toy, dinner out, a new book. These are all infrequent and only when deserved. Yet the mentality of my son and possibly other young children, as well as young teens, seems to be one of "What's Next?". The psychology behind this points to a number of possibilities: seeking attention, wanting to be in control, aspirational desire for things we can't have, testing the boundaries of the possible. Is it tied up with modern living and our treatment of time in a way we can't see unless we attempt the impossible, existential peek at our own lives.

I think it's important to slow down and to teach our children to slow down too. If I let my son watch weekend morning TV I know he's going to want more unless I stop him. I usually vet the channel for adverts. If adverts are on, I'll sit with him to explain what the advert is trying to do. I don't mind him seeing age appropriate material, so long as he has the thinking power to handle the sophisticated messages.

I noticed my boy's latest desire for more very recently, when he attended his first ballet class. He came away with a postcard with stickers on it; a great incentive for any child (and many older teenagers with good essays). He started to remark about filling the postcard with stickers for attending the class and how he was then going to get the next one and fill that up and the next one and the next one...

At least ballet is a keeper, for now. His appetite for more can feel like torture at times but then, as he always manages to do (like he did with sleeping) he suckers me in with all that extra love I seem to have for him (don't know where it all came from).

We read a couple of stories before bed, have done since he's been a month or so old. After the stories I turn off the light and give him a cuddle to chill him out. As I say a "final goodnight", he's taken to asking for two more minutes of hugging.

Course I'm gonna go for that, I know he won't always ask for more.

To read more work by Dean Nicholls, visit https://whattoexpectwhenyoureadad.wordpress.com/

Comments

CONVERSATIONS