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The hunger games
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"I'm hungry."

I hear these words constantly throughout the day.

Sometimes, even 30 minutes after a meal, my child will comment, "I'm hungry" much to my amazement.

"There's no way," I will reply.

He looks at me. "I'm sorry. I can't help it that I am hungry."

"What you just ate would feed a small village."

"I'm still hungry though."

I run down a list of options: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, crackers, string cheese, soup.

"No."

"Cheese quesadilla?"

He considers this for a moment before declining.

"Then I don't know what to make you."

He sighs, a forlorn sigh that sends a ripple of guilt through my heart.

"I will just go hungry I guess."

There is always someone in this house that is hungry. And apparently, no one knows how to feed themselves either.

Lamar will stand in front of the shelves, trying to decide.

"What do I want to eat?" he will call.

It would save us both a lot of time if he would just ask: "What do you have time to make me right now?"

Instead, I play the game of going in there to run down his options: Soup, pasta, peanut butter and jelly, crackers.

He shakes his head.

"Bean burrito? Vegetable fajitas?"

"I'm not that hungry..."

The four-legged family members even get in on the act. At least they are easier to feed.

A treat or an extra bowl of kibble and they are content and quiet.

At least for the most part.

Ava the German Shepherd will often stand in front of the kitchen counter and beg even when the treat jar is empty.

I have to show her the jar to prove it, to which she falls down in the floor dramatically, wailing at the horrors of an empty jar.

"You just ate," I tell her. The extra-large pup will roll over and howl as if she is starving.

"You cannot be hungry." Another howl.

"Do you just want some more food?"

With those words she is up and running towards her bowl.

The pups, the people, all are perpetually hungry.

Some days it feels like I am a short-order cook.

I cheat, too, and will put stuff like Lunchables and prepared chicken salad in the fridge.

My hope is that it will give them something easy to eat when I can't make something.

Instead, a few days later, Cole will stand in front of the pantry and wail: "We have nothing to eat!"

"Cole, there has to be food. I just went to the grocery store!"

"All we have are ingredients!"

Maybe that was true to a degree. But it would count as food, right?

Not if it was what a 12-year-old boy wanted to eat.

"There's absolutely nothing in this house to eat."

What does he want?

Usually pizza or fried chicken. Whatever it is we don't have or have the ingredients to make.

Or, more aptly, whatever he sees on a commercial that he suddenly has an overwhelming craving for.

"That looks so good," he will say wistfully. "I've been wanting that for days."

He didn't ask for it when we were in the grocery store.

He didn't put in on the list when I told him to write down the things he wanted. There was no mention of this new and much craved food that I could recall.

But here he was, telling me how hungry he was and how all he wanted was whatever it was we didn't have.

"It's OK, I will go to bed hungry. I can just eat tomorrow," he will say, looking at me sideways.

"What can I make you that will tide you over?"

"Nothing...."

"Can I make you some toast?"

"No...."

I sigh. I give up. I have exhausted all options and have nothing left to offer him, in all of his bottomless-pit-unceasing hunger.

I think of what I was forced to eat as a child that was beyond gross and maybe not even really edible.

Granny once gave me some kind of potted meat on a cracker that I am not entirely sure was not Alpo seasoned with chili powder.

My grandfather thought mayonnaise sandwiches were a delicacy and snuck to eat them.

And oyster stew smelled like the steam from Hades' kitchen when Granny made it, but I ate it because I was hungry.

And now, my kitchen seems almost like Waffle House, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I stood in front of the fridge, frowning at what I could make that would fill him up long enough to fall asleep.

In the middle of my culinary quest, my child was telling me he wanted to collect some old vintage video games.

Did I think that was a good investment, he wanted to know?

I sighed. I wasn't sure and had no idea whatsoever.

As long as it doesn't have to be fed.

Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."

 

 

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