Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Prize in the Cereal Box

On Today's Menu:
A Bowl of Cocoa Puffs, well-soaked in Vitamin D milk

I admitted before that I can be a pretty cheap mom. Every once in a while, though, I surprise the kids by purchasing something other than generic cereal. Star Wars Episode III is coming out soon, and my 14-year-old practically froths at the mouth every time he sees the trailer. He always has a fact or tidbit to share repeatedly until our eyes glaze over. Well, last weekend my husband and I were performing our weekly grocery shopping ritual. (I hate grocery shopping. It's got to be the most boring shopping category. Get me to Ross, or another discount store, and I can bask among the racks for hours.) We stopped in the cereal aisle, and of course Episode III images were plastered all over the Kellogg's cereal boxes.

Back when I was a kid, cereal boxes always had cool FREE prizes. Remember? You'd open the box and scrounge to the bottom of the bag for the prize before you got caught for tearing the bag? The Frosted Flakes contained a FREE light saber spoon. Really, free! Of course I splurged and bought the box for my son. Even at nearly 15, he still likes little gadgets. He stayed home that day, and our daughter spent most of her time at Wal-Mart in the jewelry and nail polish sections. She bought herself some cute stretchy bracelets.

We arrived home, and our kids performed their weekly ritual of putting the groceries away. My son found the light-up spoon. My daughter promptly found me.

"Mom, why does Zach always get the prizes in the box?" As every parent of a teenage drama queen knows, the TDQ's two favorite words are "always" and "never."

"He doesn't always get the prizes, because for one thing, they don't just give out prizes all the time." Oops, I'd forgotten about the "Robots" game disk that came free in the Pop-Tarts. "Besides, it's not like you're into Star Wars."

"Just for once I'd like a prize." She played with the three stretchy bracelets on her left arm.

My 13-year-0ld daughter does NOT want a light-up Star Wars spoon. It's the principle of the thing. I remembered my one card to play.

"Hannah, remember when you didn't get to go bowling Wednesday night, and I'd given you four dollars for that?" (She'd kept the money, of course, and I hadn't bothered asking for it back.)


I pointed at her bracelets. "You used it to get those cute bracelets, didn't you?"

She looked a little sheepish. "Um, yeah, I did."

"We didn't buy him anything today. But I let you keep that money." Point made. She fell silent, which is an event in itself, nodded, and left the room.

I do the same thing. I sometimes forget the gifts I've been freely given, and complain when I see someone else get something I think I'd like. Even though I try to remain content, that old competitive nature rears up.

"I want my prize from the cereal box!" Even if it's something whose novelty will wear off, or I don't really want deep down.

A book contract would be nice. But not out of a cereal box! Although it is something I want very, very, very much. Yes, I mean to sound redundant. I'm being honest.

Thank you, God, for the gifts I've received. Always what I need, always very good, and somtimes even what I want. And if and/or when You send that contract, I'll take it too.


Paula said...

I am so with you my friend!! Excellent reminder. Thanks!

Rachel Hauck said...

Great post... but hey, I thought all good things came out of cereal boxes! R