Cereal Wars

The following are all the meals that everyone in my house will eat for dinner without complaining:

Penne with meatballs.  The end.

So since my kids don’t really eat what I cook for dinner, they are not surprisingly hungry before bed, and while most Moms would take a hard line and as a result actually make some progress in this area over time, I am weak and sabotage myself night after night by offering a small and simple snack like fat-free saltines, string cheese, or toasted wheat bread with jelly. They always refuse though; a big bowl of cereal with milk is the only thing they will consider. “Now off with you into the kitchen, woman, and hurry. We haven’t all night.”

I argue with them every time as if it’s the first time. “Cereal with milk is not a snack. It is a meal. It has a bowl and a spoon that I will have to clean, and I’ve already closed the kitchen. Dry cereal without milk is a snack, you can have that.”

“Not acceptable, get us the milk.”

I am not kidding, this is what goes on in my house every single night. Some nights I just don’t have it in me to fight, but other nights when I’m feeling particularly audacious, it’s a full-on war. I will declare, “On this day, let it be known far and wide that cereal with milk at bedtime is forever banned from this house! This shall be the last time you will cause me such suffering.”

They took me seriously once and I didn’t have to serve any cereal with milk or clean any additional dishes at bedtime for a few weeks, and it was great! I think maybe it was because I introduced those buttery club crackers in the green box from Keebler, or “night crackers” as we now call them. That excitement ran its course, however, and we are sadly back to square one.

Parenthood is full of these battles, I knew that. I feel like I am prepared for some of the bigger ones. Like in the event I ever catch any of them doing drugs, I myself am going to do drugs and then make them take care of me while I hallucinate a game of Monopoly with the members of One Direction. Or, I am going to simply set myself on fire in protest like a Buddhist monk. But the smaller battles have thrown me for a loop and have seriously worn me down. And let me tell you something, it’s not by accident, either. It’s a proven strategy of war to keep your opponent focused on the minutiae so that you can ambush them in a big way sometime down the road. They are smart, these kids, but we have to be smarter. Which is why I have created the following plan:

Introduce animal crackers as a replacement for cereal with milk.

They won’t be able to resist! I’m also considering a visual like yellow caution tape to help them understand the concept of a closed kitchen. Now, be honest, what, if anything, do you offer at bedtime?


5 thoughts on “Cereal Wars

  1. Monica Preston says:

    They do not get a snack before bed! If they are hungry a glass of milk or water. If they don’t eat 90% of their dinner they know they get nothing else for the rest of the evening . Which means they are not hungry later .. If they come home from sports and hungry them there is ice cream!!!


  2. Mary Jane Hart says:

    Our rule has been they have to try everything that’s on the plate. If they don’t like it they don’t have to eat it. (It doesn’t mean I won’t make it again. After dinner they are allowed dessert. If they are hungry later they can have fruit. The problem I am having now is that they eat earlier because they have later practices and then they come home hungry, as if they could eat another meal. A
    Last year, I optimistically tried to have them each meal plan and cook once a week but it was incredibly time consuming (this was all on the theory that children are more willing to cook a meal they prepared.) This experiment fell flat in about a week. Gina, I think you and I should cook dinner for each other and let them eat salsa and tofutti cream cheese for the rest of their days.


  3. Cindy Muhlenberg says:

    I am a eat your dinner at dinner, whatever I make is what you eat, kind of mom. That has gotten some, “You are the worst mom” rants in my house, but overall seems to work. Worst case, if they are absolutely “STARVING” as we often hear, I will let them have a banana..


  4. If my kids eat all their dinner they get what you’re planning next… animal crackers.

    Animal crackers are great… and you can get kind of healthy ones at Costco… in BULK… for $6!!

    Plus, I feel a bit better that they aren’t too high in sugar like chocolate chip cookies (not like there would be ANY left come dinner time… I lack a lot of things… one being self control in the area of chocolate chip cookies!)

    If they didn’t eat their dinner and they are THAT STARVING… “Well buddy look who is STILL here… your left over dinner!! YEAH!!!”


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