Some might say, "Um, he's a pre-teen boy. Aren't they hungry all the time?" But the answer in Ben's case is no. While he has an adventurous palate and a love of food, his appetite is not what I would call 'voracious'. In fact, I would hesitate to call it 'big'. On some days, even 'good' is a stretch.
This would not be too terrible if his metabolism wasn't off the charts. Really, it's ridiculous. If I could bottle that metabolism and sell it, my entire extended family would be financially set for the next three generations. So with that combination, and the fact that Ben has always been active, he's always been thin and it's never been a problem.
For the last several months, his doctor has been telling him to eat more. Each visit, she says something about it.
"Are you eating dessert every night like I told you to?"
"Do you like cheeseburgers and milkshakes?"
"Let's see if we gained some weight this time around."
And my personal favorite,
"Boy, would I love to put some meat on those bones."
At the most recent visit, after plugging his stats into the computer and plotting it on a graph, the doctor showed us how the growth chart works.
"The red line shows kids that are heavier than average. The blue line shows kids who are right where they should be for their height and age. And this green line is for kids who could stand to gain a few pounds. That's OK as long as you're gaining along with the line as it goes up. But see here, Ben? You're sort of laying down on the line. We just want to make sure you don't fall off."
I was happy to tell her that he had joined the track team and it had increased his appetite. But my excitement was quickly shot down.
"Yes, but he's also burning more calories."
Dang. "But won't he gain more because he's building muscle?"
"Let's hope," she said.
Now whenever we visit the doctor, we top it off with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts. A couple of Boston cremes for the road, and Ben is grinning all the way home.
It's a bit of a silly problem to have, a kid that you have to push to gain weight, eat more, fill with calories. I'm thankful that he's healthy, hopeful that he'll still be tall enough to prevent him from having a complex, and building my own will power by avoiding the donuts that are slated (appropriately) for him.
Now that we're running together on weekends, I have different hopes for each of us: that he will gain weight, and that I will slim down. And the holiday break coming up means we'll be running together every day for two weeks straight. I admit to not having an über grasp of weight and calories, carbs versus protein, and all that athletic jargon that explains how the whole weight thing works. Add to that my poor math skills, and I'm blissfully ignorant enough to think that we may both end up getting just what we need.