The idea of “meals” takes on a whole new meaning when there are teenagers in the house. When my children were younger, we would eat three meals a day with the possibility of small snacks in between. Nowadays, meals all blend together with no real distinction. Snacks are simply a way to extend a meal and keep eating when it is not “meal time,” per se. My children seem to eat one meal a day, and it lasts all day.

The meal that I find most interesting is the Midnight Meal. It seems my children—one in particular—can’t make it through the night without a Midnight Meal. When I was a kid, we referred to this late night need to eat as a “midnight snack,” but I can honestly say I never took part in this practice myself. I remember being hungry at midnight, but the hunger was never enough to propel me out of bed, down the stairs, and into the kitchen where I could raid the refrigerator.

The “midnight snack” has morphed into a bowl of cereal, then another, and perhaps a third. A yogurt will supplement this small snack, and maybe some crackers. Oh wait! Is that a leftover BURGER I see?? Cold cuts!! Any food available is fair game for a hungry teenager at midnight.

Nope, it’s no longer a “snack” in my house. It is a veritable feeding frenzy, the panic that sets in as a teenager is about to go to bed, but realizes that bedtime means the possibility of hours without food. At that point, a teen can’t bear the thought of being away from the kitchen for more than a few minutes. It is this panic that leads to the Midnight Meal.

Interestingly, the quest for the Midnight Meal usually begins as soon as I say, “Hey, it’s time for bed.” By this time, it is already later than a kid should go to bed, but that doesn’t stop the hungry teen. The teen is hungry simply because it is bedtime. Which confirms my theory about a feeding frenzy.

If I went to bed with that much food in my stomach, I would not be able to sleep. But a teenager has merely to walk up the stairs to his/her room, and the majority of the food has been digested, the calories burned off. This super-charged metabolism gives me very little time to lock down what little food remains in order to save enough for the next day’s breakfast….


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