Feeding the American teenager

Today we are going to observe one of the most fascinating creatures that thrives here in the Southern California suburban wilderness – the active teenager.  While this creature has many astounding traits that still baffled scientists, our primary focus will be to explore one of its most extraordinary behavior patterns – its appetite.

Our study group is made up of several young males and an equal number of young females.  It is summertime, and they generally gather in a mixed group to socialize and feed in the late afternoon or early evening.  This feeding, however, does not always contain all the necessary food groups for this young animal’s healthy growth and survival.  Generally, during the daylight hours, a female adult will see to it that fresh greens and protein are put before the teenager and consumption is accomplished, although often not without a tussle.

The truly amazing thing, however, about the active teenager, is its ability to eat enormous quantities of food in a 24-hour period.  In times past, this was limited to the male of the species; however, the young females today are involved in various sports, including soccer, volleyball and lacrosse, bringing them even with the male in levels of hunger.

While the very young and the adult of this species generally do their hunting and eating during the first 12 hours of the day, the behavior we find most interesting in the teenager is its marked increase in appetite at around midnight.

OK.  Enough of my best David Attenborough imitation.  I’ve got to wrap this column up and get those pizzas in the oven before my son and his friends march in here and carry me down the stairs. Of course, they have already made their way through the kitchen mid-afternoon, clearing away a large bowl of berries, six nectarines, three bananas, a bag of chips, two loaves of bread and half a jar of peanut butter.

I just restocked the refrigerator with a host of juices, sodas and other beverages, which disappear rapidly, reappearing as empty, crushed cans scattered throughout the jungle … I mean, the house.

The good news is my kitchen has never been tidier.  There is not a crumb, a cracker, a fruit pit or a stray pretzel left after the swarm passes through.  The bad news is that I either have to make another trip to the store, or create my dinner out of Hamburger Helper and instant oatmeal.  It’s not a bad tradeoff, really.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer. Contact her at  jgillette@coastnewsgroup.com.


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