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A friend of mine was looking after her grandson for three weeks while his Mum and Dad were away overseas.

She retrieved the slow cooker from the back of the pantry and started cooking hearty one-pot wonders for her growing 10-year-old grandson.  Every couple of days, we would get an email with a photo of the young chap sitting at the kitchen table with a rather ample plate of food in front of him. 

We saw plates with slow-cooked lamb shanks in gravy with mashed spuds and veges; slow-cooked corned silverside with all the trimmings, beef stews, soups – you name it.

The little guy was smiling broadly and ready to tuck into the offerings before him.

However, over the weeks, I noticed that the smile and cheeky grin had become more forced and less enthusiastic. I wondered why.

He almost looked as though he was in dread.

I went back through the photos and realized what was wrong. Each photo showed a serving slightly bigger than the one before.

My mind raced back 60 years to when my brothers and I were being looked after by our Manx Gran. Dad was at work and Mum was in hospital. Dinner started off as something like Lancashire Hotpot and followed by ice cream and canned fruit. 

It slowly increased to its crescendo when Gran cooked a full Roast leg of Mutton, roast veges, carrots, silverbeet and gravy, followed by homemade apple pie and custard and then pancakes and lemon juice and sugar. 

 

We had to act. We went to our father and told him it had to stop. We couldn’t eat any more. 

You see, we were brought up to eat everything put in front of us. Food left on a plate was wasteful. So every night, we ate and ate, but we reached breaking point.

We could eat no more.

Dad went to his mother and tactfully explained the dilemma. As much as we loved her cooking and appreciated what she did, she was simply over-catering. Could she please cut down – just a little bit? To Dad’s amazement, Gran replied

“ Oh thank God!  Every night I cooked and you ate it all. I thought I was not feeding you enough. So I made more and you still kept eating it. I thought it would never end! “

Here we were, eating through mountains of food, for fear of being impolite and here was Gran thinking we must have some kind of bug that caused inordinate hunger.

So I looked back at the photos of the little lad and saw that same look that I remember so vividly from 6 decades ago: a face of a kid who just can’t eat anymore and is too polite to say anything.

I quickly sent an email to alert the eager Grandma to my story and she asked her Grandson whether he was indeed hungry or over full? Were the portions too big?

The little boy apparently looked relieved and said “ Thank goodness Grandma! I didn’t know how much longer I could last!  Mum always says you have to eat what’s put in front of you. “

In a week where what we read is increasingly grim and miserable, I thought I would like to share something light hearted and hopefully put a smile on your face.

The story has a happy ending. The latest picture is of an 10-year-old boy with spaghetti bolognese – in an 10 year old sized serving bowl. He was looking very happy indeed.

His Grandma also said that the parents are due home shortly and she is looking forward to heading home to have a toasted sandwich for dinner and a few days off cooking. 

She looked exhausted actually…. though I would say she has put on a few kilos…. Imagine that?

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