Feeding time never seems to end.
About the time I am thinking about heading to bed, it is feeding time for my son.
The first words out of his mouth when he gets home at night is what's for dinner.
He's been known to eat supper at home and eat another meal later with friends.
I've seen him eat supper at home, go out to eat with friends and then eat again before bed.
And all this does not include snacks.
I am still amazed he gets through the school day with just one meal. I'm waiting for the day he has a pizza delivered to one of his classes.
At home, it's a given that leftovers are left over for Alek.
Cleaning up his plate is never an issue. He'll eat everything he's given and then load up his plate again, and that should hold him over for at least an hour before he heads upstairs and starts looking through the refrigerator again.
He is still a growing boy, and it takes a lot of food to help him grow.
All this eating makes him the opposite of my daughter, Claire, who is more picky, more finicky and more likely to complain about what's for dinner.
I suspect that may be the main reason she got a job, so she can eat there and avoid eating at home.
But because they are opposites, to some degree, it doesn't make cooking any different.
Anything Claire won't eat, Alek will.
But on the occasions Claire does eat, there is less for Alek, so the rooting around the refrigerator and cupboards starts a little earlier. In fact, we have to tell Alek to hold off and make sure Claire gets something — anything — to eat.
Next year, when Claire is in college, I am not sure our food bill will shrink any.
Sure, there will be no requests for Hot Cheetos, various juices and her breakfast drink, but Alek's in-take is not going to diminish the older he gets.
He will continue to eat more and more, and it may become harder to keep up with him. It is already tough to keep the fridge and shelves stocked for a week at a time.
Heaven forbid we buy something he really likes, it will disappear in a couple days.
When he has days off for school or when summer break rolls around, the shopping cart gets stacked even higher to accommodate the extra time he spends at home.
We are fortunate, I guess, that Alek eats about anything put in front of him.
He's not one to complain too much about what we make for meals, but that may be because he eats so fast he rarely tastes anything.
I have never seen anyone suck down food as quickly as he does. I thought I ate rather fast, a technique I learned thanks to short school lunch periods, but Alek is done and on to seconds before I finish.
He also is self-sufficient. His after-dinner snacks are his own concoctions, usually chicken quesadillas. I know it sounds like a meal itself and not usually something someone would fix as a snack, but it's his stomach.
I'm not sure how many soft shell tacos we go through or how much chicken we buy, but it's a lot and they don't last long.
I guess it takes a lot of food to feed a kid anymore, and feeding time is nonstop.
Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.