The Mummy Chronicles: He who eats fastest gets the food

PHOTO: The New Paper

One night, about a year ago, I returned home late from work.

I hadn't eaten my dinner, and was starving. It was so late that I thought I would put my then four-year-old son to bed before eating.

But as I started to read him his pre-bedtime book, he stopped me.

"Read later. Mummy eat dinner," he said.

I was touched that my son would show such consideration for me, until I realised it's because he wanted to eat the fishballs in my soup.

There were six fishballs. I gave him five. When he was down to the last one, he looked at me with plaintive eyes and said in a teeny weeny voice: "Mummy, can you share?"

Emotional blackmail always wins.

My son loves food and he's got a monstrous appetite to boot. The human equivalent of a swarm of locusts, he mows down practically everything edible in his path.

"I'm so hungry" is his personal mantra.

We feed him, really, we do. But it seems like no matter what he eats, it is never enough.

Just recently, he broke his own record and, in one sitting, ate a heap of calamari, a pile of fries, several prawns, a few sardines and, for his final act, 20 mussels.

The strange thing is, despite his food rampages, he remains skinny as a stick and looks like he lives off table scraps. That he can tuck away enormous amounts of food and still stay thin is not a trait inherited from me, but one I wish very much to possess.

Anyhow, despite the fact that he gets plenty to eat, he is fond of pilfering food off the plates of me and my husband because he subscribes to the belief that "my food is my food, but your food is also my food".

Take, for instance, the Milo incident. We were at an eatery and I ordered a glass of the beverage to share. He asked for a sip, and, in what was a very big sip indeed, downed the entire glass.

He then handed the empty glass to me and chirped: "I left this for you!"

I looked into the glass. There were about 3½ drops of Milo pooled at the bottom of the glass. I tried to get at the 3½ drops but as I tilted the glass towards me, the remaining drops kept getting stuck to the sides as they slid towards my mouth.

Well, eating less may help me achieve my weight-loss goal.

When my son is not around, I eat really slowly, saving stuff that I like - the egg yolk from my sunny side-up, crunchy ikan bilis from my nasi lemak - for last.

But when I'm eating around my son, the game plan is: He who eats the fastest gets the food.

So, if I'm eating a bowl of fishball soup in sight of my son and if I want to get to eat a decent number of fishballs, I better get at them before he does.

Racing my son to get at food must be my lowest point as a mother. But one must do what one needs to get something to eat.

The boy didn't use to eat this way. In fact, for the first few years of his life, he didn't even like eating. There were days when he survived on spoonfuls of porridge, small cups of milk, solar energy and fresh air.

And then, one day, something clicked and turned on the appetite centre in his brain and he started eating. But, he hasn't stopped since.

I have been told that his propensity to eat is a boy thing. I have had people describe to me shocking amounts of food that boys have been known to eat, among which are statements like: "I know of a family with two boys. They buy an entire loaf of bread every day", "my son goes through six litres of milk a week" and "every time we go grocery shopping, the bill is crazy".

I am scared. What will my son's food intake be like when he becomes a teenager? I'm not sure my wages can rise at the same rate as the projected increase in his appetite.

Should I take on a second job to save up for staggering food bills in the future?

Readers, if you have boys, write in and advise me on a savings plan.

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