Each morning for the past week my phone has beeped with a text, and each morning for the past week I have read it with glee. My parents have taken my son for an overseas holiday, and they send me daily updates about his activities.
He had a steak and egg roll for breakfast and is now eating beans and hash browns.
We went to a typical French Bistro and he had entrecôte et pommes frites.
He wolfed down a huge schnitzel for lunch at the café near the station.
He ate the most enormous steak for dinner followed by cheesecake for dessert...
Oh yes, there are other details of the trip too. My son has been to museums and galleries, to the Eiffel tower and to Buckingham palace. He has been to the theatre and to shopping centres and to concerts and churches. He is having the adventure of a lifetime and it pleases me no end.
But what really gets me excited is his food.
My son used to be a small and fussy eater, living on sausages and cheese for about ten years. Now, he is a ravenous teenage boy, and it makes me ridiculously happy to know he is eating. When I read 'huge schnitzel' or 'enormous steak' I can actually visualise him shoving food into his mouth. And this gives me the kind of satisfaction that makes parenting worthwhile.
My middle child is a great eater and a good weight, and so her eating has never been an issue for me. My youngest child, however, evokes the exact same emotions. A fussy eater like her brother, she will regularly eat a few noodles for dinner, or a small lamb cutlet, or maybe a half a chicken leg. And so on those rare occasions when she eats a hearty meal – like an entire piece of schnitzel! Or a whole toasted cheese sandwich! – I feel a delicious, palpable joy in my soul.
Of course, it's a parents' right to be excited by their child's eating. One of my friends confessed that she regularly texts her husband about what her son has consumed. Another of my friends texts her mother with details of her kids' meals. And I have spent many a happy hour comparing notes with friends about what our sons have eaten. It's almost a competition to see whose child can pack the most epic meals away.
And then there is my mother, another enthusiastic feeder. In fact, my son's greatest challenge on this holiday has been to keep her offers of food at bay. He need only look at a pretzel, he complained in a recent email, for her to offer, then beg, to buy it for him.
Reading the email filled my heart with frustration. My poor mother! She just wants to feed him pretzels! Couldn't my son do the right thing and just eat one or two?
But then later that day, I received a text from my mum. It included a photo of my son tucking into a massive burger. And with that, my heart soared with joy again. My child was with his beloved grandparents, having a wonderful time in a foreign city.
Most importantly, he was eating an enormous meal. If only I could have seen the entrée and dessert, and perhaps the snack before bedtime, my happiness would have been complete.