My kids are addicted to cereal. I suspect this condition is common in most households. I have no one to blame but myself. I have definitely been the enabler of this addiction. In fact, I was the first cereal pusher in their lives. As soon as their chubby fingers were capable of grasping a single Cheerio, I supplied them with cereal snacks of all shapes, sizes and flavors. I quickly became a cereal pusher.
Now that the kids are no longer cute, pudgy toddlers, waddling about with a plastic bowl, shoving handfuls of Cheerios into their pouty faces and leaving a trail of toasty oats behind them, I am reconsidering the wisdom of parents pushing cereal as a “snack”.
What I have now are kids who sleep as late as possible before they have to get up in the morning. Rather than take the time to sit down and eat a proper breakfast, they respond to my nagging, “I’ll just grab a bowl of cereal. I don’t have time for anything else.” Then they slide into a seat at the table, splash a bit of milk into a bowl, pour out a colossal amount of cereal and begin spooning it into their faces at lightning speed. Before I’ve even had time to wipe up their spilled milk and place the jug back in the refrigerator, they are tipping their bowls up to their mouths, draining every last drop, then shooting out the front door and out into the big, wide world. Their day has begun with a hasty fix of morning cereal with milk.
They also tuck into their backpacks cereal bars. There is no end to the variety of these grainy snack logs. I’m never really sure if they are eating a proper lunch at school. I fear that my daughter eats a cereal bar then skips lunch in her never-ending determination to “stay thin” (thank you, Hollywood, for rooting yourself so deeply into my vulnerable teenage daughter’s psyche). I suspect my sons also opt for cereal bars for lunch rather than actually buying a lunch in the school cafeteria. I believe this has more to do with finances than waistlines. I suspect they pocket their lunch money and accumulate enough every month to buy yet another video game.
When everyone comes home in the afternoon I insist that we all sit down as a family and eat our evening meal. The family dinner table is declared to be an “Absolutely No-Cereal Zone”. It is a strategy that seems to be working. The boxes of Cocoa Puffs, Cheerios, Cap’n Crunch, and Frosted Flakes stay in their designated spots in the pantry. Water and tea are the drinks of choice. Milk maintains its silent vigil in the refrigerator, longing for morning to come so it can once again feel needed.
However, around eight o’clock, it seems that all bets are off where cereal is concerned. As I make my evening rounds throughout the house I find my cereal addicts slipping back into their comfortable habits. And, might I add, in the most deplorable, unhygienic way.
I peek in my daughter’s room, attempting to spy without being caught. She is laying on her bed, chatting on her phone, earbuds firmly set, and one hand casually dangling within a box of Cheerios. The only thought that goes through my mind is that she is probably, at some point, licking those fingers and jamming her hand right back into the box. I will never eat Cheerios again. At least, not in my house while my daughter still lives here.
In my oldest son’s room I discover both of my sons competing against one another in some mythological wizard game. My heart warms as I see that, not only are they enjoying the camaraderie of brotherhood, but they are sharing. Yes, they are sharing a video game, their time, and, oh my gosh, please don’t tell me they are also sharing, yes, a box of cereal. An enormous box of Cap’n Crunch sits between their two beanbag chairs. In horror I watch as one boy picks up the box, jams in his hand, pulls out a handful and crams it into his face. He laughs. He slams the cereal box into the chest of his little brother who proceeds to follow the role model of his big brother. Dear heavens, they are exchanging all sorts of microbes as they take turns contaminating the contents of that cereal box then eating it!
My children are cereal addicts and they don’t care. I am their pusher, supplier and enabler. It seems there is no help for us. I also suspect that almost every family in my country is affected by this same addiction. It is a national epidemic. For the cereal addicts there is no cure. I will have to learn to live and cope with this. Surely there are good, tasty cereal alternatives. Perhaps I could wean them off from eating it straight from the box. Stay tuned, dear readers.