Thursday, March 10, 2005

The best present is sugary wheat.

When I was growing up, my parents didn't think that my brothers and I should be allowed access to too much sugary cereal. At the age of three, I didn't think much of it; I was used to Rice Krispies, Shreddies, and Corn Flakes, and was only vaguely aware of the fact that there were hyperkinetic cartoon characters on t.v. that were extolling the values of a cup of sugar as part of your complete breakfast. When I got a little older, though, and learned about what my friends in Kindergarten were having for breakfast, my mind boggled. Froot Loops, Honey Comb, Lucky Charms, and - Sugar Crisp? A cereal that was full of so much sucrose, it was part of the name? At home, the best we could hope for was Honey-Nut Cheerios, or the very rare appearance of a box of my mother's Frosted Flakes.

After my discovery, my mother and father soon decided - probably to avoid screaming matches in the cereal aisle - that we would, in fact, be able to have sugared cereal in the house. The catch was that we could only get a box of sugared cereal on our birthday. And, so as to avoid screaming matches at the breakfast table, each boy would, on occasion, share his teeth-destroyingly delicious cereal with his brothers. So, for about a week every February, March, and August - and July, when Mom got her Frosted Flakes - we would be transformed from groggy children to sugar-fueled dynamos. Birthday Cereal was the one present we were sure to get.

After I moved away from home, I kept up my parents' tradition of Birthday Cereal. Sure, sometimes I'd get a box of Reese Puffs in December, or some Froot Loops in April - for studying purposes only, of course. One year, when I was living with my younger brother, he discovered the Holy Grail of Cereal: Froot Loops with marshmallows. That box didn't even last four days. But the truth is that nine out of ten times, I actually prefer a bowl of Shreddies or Life cereal to their sugary brethren. So sugared cereals have once again been relegated to birthdays, or in the very rare case that I need them to get through final exams.

When my mother asked me what I was doing for my birthday today, I mentioned that Peach and I were probably going to get a box of Captain Crunch (my all-time favourite Birthday treat), and the other end of the phone lapsed into silence. "Really?" she asked. I'm sure she was thinking, "You're a grown man now; you can have Captain Crunch whenever you want." But she seemed happy that I was keeping our tradition alive as odd as it may seem. The girls in class have just chalked it up as another of my personality quirks, but the funny thing is that whene I mentioned it, they started talking about what were their favourite cereals when they were kids. They remenisced about the little boxes their parents would take on camping trips, or the time they an entire box while mother's back was turned. It got them thinking about how fun it was to be a kid, and their eyes smiled and shone with the memories. So if I get to feel like a kid on the day that reminds me that I'ma nother year older, then I think the tradition holds up. Plus, I like the idea of Captain Crunch: a cereal that cuts open the roof of your mouth for more efficient sugar delivery to your bloodstream.

No comments: