I KNEW, from the time he was born, that my son had feet like Fred Flintstone.
You know, wide, rugged feet with fat, bulbous toes. The kind of feet you'd need if you ever had to kick a small dinosaur like Dino.
As he's gotten older, his feet haven't changed. They've simply gotten bigger, along with the rest of his body.
My son, Solomon III, is husky. Not because he exercises. He doesn't, because he has not yet discovered girls. It is girls, after all, who provide the encouragement that men need to do everything from bathing to dressing. If it weren't for our desire to impress them, I'm convinced we'd spend our lives adorned in rags while fighting, passing gas and rolling in mud.
I'm not going to let my son go that route. I'm going to make him take advantage of his huskiness, because I know he'll eventually outgrow me. Even at age 9, he is able to outeat everyone in our house.
The eating is not just about volume, either. In many ways, it's about strategy. Every time we eat pasta, cheesesteaks, burritos or ribs, Little Solomon makes sure he's involved in putting away the leftovers. At first, I thought he was just being helpful. Now I know he was simply plotting his next strike.
While putting the leftovers away, he can count each portion, hide it strategically in the vegetable crisper and go to bed knowing that the food is his for the taking.
His refrigerator raids usually begin around dawn, when everyone else is asleep. While the rest of us snore and roll over, Little Solomon rolls out of bed. Under cover of darkness he slinks down the steps in near silence. He opens the refrigerator, the light shines eerily on his face and that's when the carnage begins.
Once the refrigerator has been compromised and the boy is alone in the kitchen, no cheesesteak morsel can escape his wrath. No burrito stands a chance against his frontal assault. No angel-hair pasta is skinny enough to escape his 9-year-old vision.
The boy is merciless in his total destruction of every leftover. He is ruthless in his utter greed. He is a cold and calculating eating machine, consuming every crumb from the night before.
If I didn't know the source of his hunger, I would probably be enraged. After all, I like leftovers, too. But on a recent trip to the sneaker store, I realized what Little Solomon is trying to do each time he raids the refrigerator and decimates the leftovers.
He is trying to feed his Flintstones feet.
Because he does not have access to Bronto-burgers, he is forced to eat double portions of 21st-century food. Doing so is preparation for powering a Flintstones car on foot power, sliding down the tail of a dinosaur at the quarry and dealing with Barney and the boys at the Water Buffalo Lodge.
Given the apparent growth that his eating has triggered in his Flintstones feet, I think it's time to admit that Little Solomon is not so little anymore. Now we can no longer buy his sneakers in the boys' section. We now have to buy them in the men's section. Not only does that mean his sneakers are bigger. It also means they cost more.
If that were the extent of it, perhaps it would be OK, but the sneakers aren't the only man-sized clothing item we have to buy. The boy is now wearing man-sized pants, as well.
The way I figure it, the combination of his food consumption, his sneaker size and his pants size have left me with no choice. I'm going to have to start charging the boy rent.
You might think that's harsh, given that he's only 9-years-old and about to enter fifth grade. I think I'm being more than generous.
With his connection to the Flintstones, my son should have no trouble whatsoever finding a job. He can head down to the lodge and talk to the Grand Poobah about putting in a good word for him at the hat store.
He can talk to Joe Rockhead about getting him a spot down at the bowling alley. He can page Mr. Rocks on Rocks and get a job at the hotel where Fred met Wilma as a teen. And, if worse comes to worst, he can always call up Mr. Slate and tell him he needs a favor.
I'm sure they've got a spot for him at the quarry.
Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books, including his latest novel, The Dead Man's Wife (Minotaur Books), and the humor collection Daddy's Home: A Memoir of Fatherhood and Laughter. The married father of three has been featured on NPR and CNN, and has written on parenting for Essence and other publications. He created the literacy program Words on the Street. His column appears Tuesdays. More at Solomonjones.com.