I could no longer sit idle and watch the desecration continue. Evan’s plastic spoon moved deftly through his Lucky Charms, strip mining out all the marshmallows and leaving nothing but oat rubble behind.
“No strip mining,” I said, pointing to his bowl.
He stared back at me from his high chair, his ability to comply hindered by his limited knowledge of mineral extraction techniques.
When I was a kid, my favorite cereal (that I was allowed to eat) was Raisin Nut Bran, which consisted of delicious, nut-rolled raisins surrounded by flakes made of 100% fancy recycled resume paper. I’d noticed that General Mills had stopped putting enough raisin nuts into the cereal, and, in desperation, considered switching to my parents’ fiber fests.
Then one day, I saw my big sister Amy pour a dry bowl of Raisin Nut Bran, pick out all the good stuff one-by-one, then pour the flakes back into the box.
“What? The flakes are gross,” she said to my protestations, which is where the conversation ended, since she could beat me up.
“Eat the other stuff, too, not just the marshmallows,” I explained to Evan, lest he follow in the path of his wayward relatives.
“Marshmallows,” Evan agreed as he fished a purple horseshoe out of the bowl.
I shook my head as Evan popped the marshmallow into his mouth and started digging for more. While he was distracted, I snuck another sip of orange juice and quickly set the cup back down behind the cereal box.
He glanced up, sensing that something sneaky was going on. I played it cool. In a moment, he returned to digging. The coast was clear, and I took another sip. Letting your child catch you with juice is like letting your prison guard catch you with a file. It will be confiscated.
“Juice! Juice!” your child will yell, pointing at the cup. After you hand it over, you’ll be forced to watch, powerless, as your child pours half of the juice into his mouth while the other half cascades down the shirt you put on him ten minutes ago.
There was a time when fathers didn’t hide their orange juice from their children, but all those dads died of scurvy, so now my kind is all that’s left.
Having a child who can talk is fantastic in many ways. “I can’t wait to hear what this little person has to say,” is a common sentiment expressed by parents whose child is not yet of talking age.
Assuming that Evan is a representative sample, though, I can tell you that the children of Americawould like you to know that they want more juice, Daddy. Also, you just drove past a tractor. Tractor! Did you see the tractor? Tractor!
I’m not wild about Evan eating sugary cereal, mostly because I never got to eat any when I was a kid, so he should suffer, too. If he wants Cinnamon Toast Crunch, he should spend the night at Johnny Poole’s house, like I did.
Incidentally, does anyone make regular cinnamon toast anymore? I don’t think I’ve seen a slice of it in fifteen years. If the world was a fair place, we’d have kept the cinnamon toast and ditched the Funyuns.
“He shouldn’t be eating this. I never got to eat anything sweeter than Cheerios,” I said to my wife, Kara, as she joined us in the kitchen.
“It’s only on weekends. Besides, you grew up dumping spoonfuls of sugar on everything,” she said.
I keep forgetting what she knows and doesn’t know about my upbringing.
She sat down at the table and picked up the cereal box before I had time to react.
“Juice!” Evan yelled.
You can strip mine the good stuff and leave Mike Todd behind at firstname.lastname@example.org.