The Last PB&J

I can take all those little plastic bowls and cups from Ikea out of my cupboards, I guess. It's a whole new parenting enchilada, this 'tween/teen thing.
02/22/2012 12:23 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2012

I don't buy Dino Nuggets anymore.

The little trog who sat in the high seat in his Batman cape and pirate hook hand and ate them for lunch and dinner is halfway through sixth grade now. He orders the chicken tenders off the adult menu and cleans his plate.

He's already as tall as I am. Which isn't saying much since I'm only 5 feet 2, but he's not even 12 yet. He already outweighs me. And he's starting to smell like a guy.

He is always hungry. If he liked PB&J's anymore at all, he would eat four of them in a sitting. This is the year I'll become a four-gallons-of-milk-a-week household. I can feel it. He's about to reach for family heights and girth -- the menfolk on my side look down on 6 feet -- and when seventh grade starts next year, I'm certain he'll be looking down at me.

The Drama Teen is now in high school. She looks me in the eye, rolls hers, and gets the hummus and crackers out of the fridge and spirits them up to her room. I have a photo of her, age two, with hummus, the same Trader Joe's brand, smeared all over her face and shirt.

My plan to make her moderate on sweets has backfired. I always allowed them after she ate her meal. They were never banned. I was not going to be one of those "no sugar" households that produce sugar-obsessed teens and young adults who hoard candy. But she's obsessed anyway. She'll find two or three dollars and run down to the store to bring back a giant box of Junior Mints or three boxes of red vines.

Of course I'm horrified. But didn't I do the same? Two dollars in my day bought four Archie comic books or two comics and four candy bars... I won't even eat a candy bar now.

So I think she'll grow out of it. The Drama Teen is also always hungry. And so are all of her friends. They show up at every hour and hang out and of course I try to feed them. Best way ever of working through your leftovers and any juice or milk in the 'fridge. I'm worried I'm not feeding them enough.

I used to worry they wouldn't eat enough. I never engaged in subterfuge when it came to feeding them when they hit the peak of their toddler pickiness. My mom told me to just find two or three things they liked and feed them that and don't worry, they won't starve.

And, as usual, she was right. They would eat carrots and edamame beans and corn on the cob. They'd always eat pasta and string cheese, scrambled eggs and any fruit put in front of them.

Of course they wouldn't eat a salad nicoise, but what self-respecting four-year-old would? Just give them the hard-boiled egg, sliced up in a little red dish, and another dish, blue, with olives, and let them have at it.

Of course I'd always use the favored cup. Little kids are like that. And the magic spoon. And the small plastic dishes with kitty cats or monsters on them.

I've still got the magic spoon, you know. But nobody requires it anymore. Same with all those little colored cups and dishes. The kids eat off of the regular crockery now. The girl will eat my tortilla Espanola or vegetable cous-cous and thank me for it. The boy can make his own scrambled eggs. He wants sea salt and sliced tomato on his bagel. Both can use chopsticks like Samurai.

I can take all those little plastic bowls and cups from Ikea out of my cupboards, I guess.

It's a whole new parenting enchilada, this 'tween/teen thing.