In the Pixar movie A Bug’s Life, there’s a scene where Princess Atta takes over a new role of leading her ant colony to gather an annual offering/bribe of food for hungry grasshoppers. As they descend, she chants softly: “They come, they eat, they leave. They come, they eat, they leave.”
I’ll bet you that whoever wrote that line had a teenager at home. It’s the perfect description of a day in the life of a high school student.
Our oldest son M is a freshman this year, and I’ll admit right now that, although I thought I was prepared for the notion of having a high schooler in the house, I wasn’t ready for the fact that he would never be home.
He’s up early and out the door at the time he normally would have just been waking up last year. His lunch hour comes almost at the end of the school day (in the 7th of 8 periods). Right after the academic day ends, his extracurricular activities start, stacking back-to-back for these first few weeks of fall. There are a few days when he doesn’t get home until about 8:30 or 9 p.m. Not many of them, thank goodness, but the few he has are long days indeed.
Needless to say, he’s hungry and tired when he gets here. I’ve tried to make sure he has something he can eat in between periods at school or after he runs for miles and miles. But I think he needs more than a few snacks or whatever he can buy from the school’s vending machines. Last night he came home and made a spinach salad because he was craving something “real.” Then he was off again for a quick round of homework before crashing.
Eat, sleep, go. Eat, sleep, go. And it’s only the first week of school.
His schedule won’t be this crazy in a few weeks, but right now he’s busy — much busier than he ever was in middle school. I think it’s because he’s interested in more opportunities, and those activities take more time and intensity than they did at the middle school level.
In other words, I think this is just high school. I need to wrap my mind around the fact that he’s going to be eating, sleeping and leaving on a regular basis.
Of course, I never considered myself all that busy either when I was a teenager, shuttling between events at my high school. I wonder if this is how my parents felt and how they handled it — a thought that comes to mind more and more as my kids get older.
Do you have busy, busy kids too? And what on earth do you feed a growing teenager who’s active but has really only minutes to bolt something down? Any suggestions?