This I Believe

Mary - Grand Island, New York
Entered on December 19, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood

Cereal Unpredictability

On any school morning in my household, breakfast time is like playing Russian roulette with emotions. Some mornings my sons come downstairs brimming with excitement over the upcoming events of the day. Other days my boys stomp angrily down the stairs grumbling about the necessity of attending school. On those mornings, they hover behind cereal boxes at the breakfast table like snipers behind rocks, insults ricocheting between them.

The other morning was one of those mornings. Slamming doors and thudding feet were an omen of the impending negative disposition of my boys. That day, I had made the crucial mistake of pre-selecting and pouring a bowl of cereal for my youngest son. Now this slip up may seem like a minor one, however in my son’s opinion, I had loaded his bowl with an instantly undesirable pile of processed grains. The minute he saw the bowl, he glared at it loathsomely. This same cereal that was placed before him yesterday, had triggered a fiesta of whining and complaining that was rapidly cascading into disaster. As he continued to express his disgust, I fumbled for words to justify my actions. Finally in desperation I explained that I had picked out the cereal to “surprise” him. He didn’t buy it. Surprises in my opinion are always good things—flowers from my husband, unadvertised specials at the store or money that you find in an old pair of jeans. In my son’s world, however, this cereal surprise fell under an apparently more dramatic category that includes power outages and cauliflower for dinner.

Now I do not believe in caving in to demands by my children, but this particular morning we already had enough havoc at the breakfast table. Placating my distraught son, I provided him with a new bowl of cereal.

Life with three boys is often filled with these types of surprises. We often have the unwelcome surprise of the lost tennis shoe in the morning, or the last minute permission slip needing to be signed. Other surprises I cling to, such as the impromptu utterance of “I Love You Mom” by my oldest son, or notes from my youngest son that say “You’re the Best Mom in the World. Even the small surprise my ten year old son practicing his trumpet without being reminded brings me joy.

Many of us take comfort in routine in our lives and crave the predictability of a day without extremes—I’m not sure I believe this type of day exists. In some sense, the unpredictability of my life has become predictable. My day is not complete without haphazard homework, bickering in the bathroom or drama in the driveway as we wait for the bus. I suppose down the road my life will be filled with events that I can anticipate, but for now I’ll contend with cereal unpredictability because I know this is just a moment in time—a moment that I believe runs out all too fast.