So, my son turned eighteen this year and I still worry about how much he eats.
While I try to limit my own calorific intake a little more every day, I face an ongoing battle to shove as many calories as I can down my son’s throat.
I hate the word ‘nag’, but I DO nag Kurt about not eating, and when he does pig out, I then nag him about not eating healthily.
It was the one aspect of visiting my mother-in-law that drove the old man up the wall once he’d left home for good; when she nagged at him incessantly to eat more food and shoved seconds of every meal in his face at every opportunity.
Up until the age of four, NC refused to eat anything solid and survived on yoghurt. I tried every delicacy to tempt her – enticing homemade vegetable purees, interesting finger foods and exotic fruits – but she would have none of it. And if I forced her, she gagged. I swore that she would never eat normally and that we would be serving yoghurt as the main course at her wedding.
But survive she did, and now eats Jungle curries with the enthusiasm of a drunk rugby player.
I have a new niece and I watched her put my sister through her food torture paces a few months ago, just as I was put through that same form of toddler terrorism by her cousin twenty years ago.
The problem is, Kurt is actually dropping weight, because the only meal he eats with any regularity is dinner. It must be hard for him to prioritise eating, with his very busy schedule of sleeping through breakfast, using durries as a substitute for lunch and the exertion of so much teenage energy watching back to back ‘Bones’ episodes. I listen to myself pester him about food the minute he first enters the kitchen, trying not to betray the panic in my voice, but at the same time offering him all manner of gourmet feasts to encourage his appetite to kick in, that no-one else apart from the Princess is privy to in the family.
No-one ever made me breakfast at eighteen, but such is the innate fear I have of my son being the only teenager on the North Shore to die of malnutrition, it is a battle I must win. There is no doubt in my mind that the litheness of Kurt’s Mick Jagger physique (without the muscle tone ), is due to his hyperactivity, the ease with which he replaces most meals with fags, his incessant chatter at mealtimes and a genuine lack of interest in real food, nevertheless, I will go to any lengths to get some vitamins and minerals down him.
NC never actually developed all those hideous conditions like Rickets and Skurvy that I worried so much about during her first decade, I missed her childhood. I need to remind myself that every doctor I consulted told me that NC ‘wouldn’t starve herself,’ and ultimately, they were right.