Wednesday, April 08, 2009

How I know I'm an adult (a.k.a. less than 10 grams of sugar)

When I was a kid, one of the things I most looked forward to was when my mom would haul us to the commissary. At first, it seemed like this would be a drag...we all (three of us kids) would have to sit in my mom's van for about 45 minutes WITHOUT A DVD PLAYER in order to even GET to the commissary. We'd have to pick one station or tape to play and listen to (the person in the front seat usually got to choose)...and we had to try not to kill our siblings. Come to think of it, this was had to have been far more stressful on my mom. :)

At any rate, once we got to the commissary, we were given stacks of coupons of stuff to shop for - and as we got older, we got to be in control of our very own grocery cart. We could not buy things that we did not have coupons for. NOT ONE THING. Unless you snuck it in the basket without Mom or the sisters seeing. Sure, it was tricky to get it past the ringing up process (or as I liked to think of it "The Conveyor Belt of Freedom") but if you were lucky you could distract Mom while the coveted item was being scanned. Anyway, Mom would separate the coupons into stacks where we 1) each had a stack about the same size as our other two sisters as a way to discourage squabbling, and b) were located in the same general vicinity as the other items in the stack. My mom pre-sorted coupons - she was an organizational super woman! (sigh) Sometimes I forget all the ways she's been my hero over the years.

So as my mom tried to keep tabs on up to four carts and three kids, we shopped for what seemed like a year's supply of food. Even as I think of it now, I can't really understand why getting to pick out NEW items was so exciting. Even if it was a box of Saran Wrap, I would get excited. Perhaps it was the simple thrill of shopping and not worrying about picking up the bill. Maybe it was that each of the items got to be put in the cart with care so that we could maximize the cart space. We always had overflowing carts at the end and I derived some sort of crazy satisfaction if mine was organized well: cold foods together, boxes stacked neatly, and (if I was feeling zany) the UPC codes visible so I could align them on the conveyor belt allowing for the fastest scanning possible. Uh...yeah. I was a dork even then.

But without a doubt, the best part of the trip is when we got to the cereal isle (which seemed like it was 2 miles long and 50 feet high) to pick out the cereal. Mom would have coupons from General Foods or Kellogg's that were like "Buy 467 boxes, get 1 free" and so we each got to pick out a box or two of cereal. Let me say that again: WE GOT TO PICK OUT OUR CEREAL. The only rule was that the cereal had to have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Other than that, we could pick ANY box we desired.

I remembered thinking that this was freedom. This was what being an adult must feel like. You get to pick ANY box of cereal you want ALL THE TIME. Adulthood? Yeah, it was likely to be sheer bliss 24/7.


I miss those simple pleasures in life. I miss getting so excited about seeing a puppy - a puppy that likely wanted to play with me if only my parents would just let me go over there and pet it. I miss trips to ShowBiz Pizza because even though the pizza tasted like crap, I got to see that magical purple monster that SANG when he wasn't resting behind a curtain! I miss admiring the "big" kids in their letterman's jackets, thinking that I would be soooo OLD when I was 18.

I miss my innocence.

So for the rest of this week, I'm resolving to look at things through a child's eyes...I'm going to stop and see the glory in the world. I'm going to seek out the simple pleasures and relish them.

And, of course, I'm going to pick out my own cereal.

P.S. I got used to the lower sugar cereals. In fact, my favorites to this day are still Cheerios, Chex, and Crispix. Sure, I went through a phase in college where I think I only ate Fruity Pebbles, but that's like THE LAW when you get to college, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. And in case you're wondering, I still feel a rush of glee when I walk down the cereal isle. The possibilities still seem endless.


Patty said...

What a great post! I love thinking back to a time when we were innocent and life so simple. I too remember thinking 18 was so old. It sounds like you and your sisters had fun without even realizing it. Did you ever watch the game show Super Market Sweep? My niece and I were talking about how great it was. I always tried to figure out how I would get the greatest amount if I was on the show. I think you are on to something by looking at things through a child's eye.

Jen said...

When I first got out on my "own!" I loved going grocery shopping!! I actually got to make "my" decision on what to buy! Sadly the excitement died when I had to pay the bill!

Now, grocery shopping is one of my least favorite things to do! I get stressed out having to buy ingredients for meals because I HATE TO COOK!!

Great post! It is nice to reminisce! I can totally see you organizing your basket with bar codes facing up! You were meant to be an engineer!