Kids follow clueless summer carbohydrate diet

 

I called home mid-summer break from an out-of-town appointment and asked my kids to photograph my grocery list and text-message it to me so I could pick up groceries on the way back. Scanning the rather scant contents of the list, all were in my handwriting, except those I had dictated to the child standing nearest the grocery pad while I busy cooking and depleting my pantry.

Thinking of their ongoing accusation that, “Mom, you never ask us what went want to eat,” I inquired if there was anything they wanted me to pick up for them while I was at the store.

“Some tortilla chips, please.” Pleased with their politeness, I ignored the empty content and nutritional void of their request.

“Sure, no problem.” And it wasn’t a problem – until I noticed the next day they had not consumed the chicken, cheese and three-vegetable casserole I had left them a note to re-heat for lunch. Or the following day, when they’d neither touched the casserole nor eaten the alternative roast beef wraps I had left for them. The situation bore investigation.

Nancy Drew found her first clue in spotting red-coated cereal bowls next to the most comfortable pieces of furniture, respectively, in the two TV-containing rooms of our home. A glance inside of the refrigerator revealed a half-empty half-gallon container of salsa: the supply I keep on hand for making black bean soup, which, incidentally, is nutritionally-dense and notably healthy, except for the flatulence factor. I confronted my kids.

“Yes, Mother Dear, we have eaten chips and salsa for the past two days, but there are a lot worse things we could be eating,” defended my son. Well, yeah, but there are also a lot better things: the more nutritious and perishable things I have gone to the time and expense of acquiring and/or putting together.

I looked forlornly at the bag of once-fresh grapes now shriveling in the fridge, alongside the unopened bag of pluots and the dark cherries which were close to starting to mildew from idleness. And let’s not forget the browning bananas on the kitchen counter – able to attract the attention of fruit flies only. Probably not teenage fruit flies, mind you, just the mature adult ones who know a good thing when it’s available.

My children ate chips and salsa every day for two whole weeks, resorting to purchasing their own tortilla chips while on an outing with friends after I had refused to purchase more. They dipped them in salsa acquired from the pantry of their late father when we were clearing out his home. Yes, it is possible to keep playing one parent against the other posthumously.

Two new items popped up on the grocery list in handwriting that wasn’t mine: plain potato chips and snack crackers. And so the carbohydrate fest continued, exacerbated by the appearance of other white flour products, including, but not limited to saltines and plain white bagels. It goes without saying that microwave popcorn also made the top-ten items on the grocery list.

I decided to crack down, without announcing my intentions. I left Granny Smith apple slices with caramel on a plate to greet them one morning; I placed a box of Raisin Bran, two bowls and spoons conveniently in the middle of the kitchen table; I enticingly displayed a twin pack of Greek yogurt at the front of the refrigerator, with sharp cheddar cheese sticks, a bag of baby carrots and container of humus close by. But they penetrated my nutritional perimeter promotional items to reach the plain white bagels behind the healthy stuff.

The thought my teens would most likely put some type of dairy product on the bagels didn’t fully quell my concern. It was going to be a long, hot, carbohydrate-laden summer. I didn’t help things by unthinkingly making a starchy batch of waffles one rare Saturday morning when we were all at home. The sausage links I served as accompaniment only further contributed to my children’s dietary delinquency. Nuts!

Wait, that was it! I tried leaving out whole almonds and peanut butter on the kitchen counter and they bit! While the battle’s not over, it’s a start. Take that, Pop-Tarts!

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