Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom

The pack stalks its prey, watching…waiting…looking for the right moment to make its move…go in for the kill…One of the pack members—the alpha male—gives orders to the others. “Climb up to its nest, using whatever means necessary.” The others obey, eager for the reward that awaits them. And suddenly, quick as lightning, its over. Plastic and paper fly as the pack devours their quarry. Their hands and faces drip with the sticky satisfaction of a job well done…That 6-pack of Hershey’s Chocolate Bars never had a chance.

You’ve heard the phrase, “They’re eating me out of house and home”? Well, I’m pretty sure that was first uttered out of the mouth of a mom with three boys. At first, I thought it was good—”They’ve got such strong appetites!” Then it became annoying—”OK, who put the licked-clean peanut butter jar back in the cupboard??” Now? Now I’m downright scared. Scared that they have a tapeworm or that disorder that causes them to never feel full. Scared that if it’s this bad when they’re 10, 6, and 3, what’s it going to be like when they’re 17, 13, and 11? Scared that our income will not rise proportionately enough to offset the rise in their ability to devour. Hunger inflation, if you will. Scared that we’ll have to cash in our 401(k)s to pay the grocery bills and will then be working at those grocery stores until we drop dead at the age of 98 while asking, “Paper or plastic?”

Let’s take last night for an example. It started out innocent enough. Another gourmet meal of Hamburger Helper (Cheesy Potatoes this time), baby carrots, and grapes. Of course, Boy #2 wouldn’t eat said Hamburger Helper, so he got his old standby—PB&J. Well, then #3 wanted PB&J, so I made him one too, which he then proceeded to “eat” by licking the peanut butter and jelly off the bread and then taking one bite in the middle of each slice of bread. Boy #1, being a tweener and all, was still hungry after the HH, so I proceeded to make him a sandwich as well. I then got ready to attend a meeting and, being the nice mom I am, told #1 that I would stop at the store on my way home and pick up some ice cream so he could make us all milkshakes, which he learned how to do at school. (I’m pretty sure that’s on the ACT test.)

So…fast forward through meeting…trip through the grocery store at 8:00 to pick up ice cream and various other staples…finally carrying in the groceries to the kitchen at 8:45. #1 was waiting as I knew he would be, blender in hand. Even though it was bedtime, I was going to let him whip up some quick shakes for us all. THEN, I saw it—laying on the counter. A scream caught in my throat as my brain attempted to process the information. One Hershey’s full-size candy bar. The little cardboard piece that cradles the 6-pack of bars. Plastic wrap, shredded to bits. “DID YOU GUYS EAT THE CANDY BARS I HAD HIDDEN IN THE CUPBOARD?!?!?”

Looks of guilt sprinkled with a dash of pleasure came over their faces. No one spoke. “I SAID, DID YOU GUYS EAT THE CANDY BARS?!?!” I then noticed the bar stool that had been scooted across the floor and sat, incriminatingly, right beneath the cupboard. “Yes,” one of them finally squeaked.

“You ate FIVE candy bars between the THREE of you while I was gone?!”


“Okay, so obviously someone had more than ONE full-size candy bar. I can do the math! WHO ate more than one?”

And then it came out. #1 had eaten a half of one. #2 ate a whole one. And—yes—that leaves 3 1/2 candy bars for my 3-year-old. At 8:00 at night.

Then came the lectures. “You do NOT eat food without asking!” and “Your teeth are going to FALL OUT, and I’m NOT going to pay your dentist bill!” and “Do I EVER buy candy bars for you just to snack on? EVER?!” (Which, by the way, no, I don’t.) and “We do NOT have money to just BLOW on a SIX-PACK of CANDY BARS that you SNARF DOWN FOR A BEDTIME SNACK!” Then, “Well, I guess we won’t get to eat s’mores when we use our fire pit then. That’s why I bought the candy bars!” (I don’t know who was more disappointed–them or me, because campfire [or fire pit] s’mores are my FAVORITE!)

Needless to say, #1 didn’t get to make the shakes.

Seriously, though, it’s like they’re savages! Nothing is safe in the kitchen. A bag of apples is gone in a day (and the slimy apple cores left on the floor, under the bed, in the car–yum!), cereal is looted the moment I bring it in the house, and yogurt? We won’t even go there. I try to at least buy healthy things for them to snack on, but it’s just ridiculous how much they eat! I can’t keep up! Husband says, “Don’t buy them ANY snacks anymore!” But I feel like such a sucky mom saying, “No, you CANNOT have a banana, #3! What are you thinking?” I mean, they need to eat, don’t they? I think I’ve read somewhere that they’re supposed to get vitamins and minerals, right?

I’m sure the blame lies on me. If I had any sort of control of my household, my kids would think twice before just helping themselves to whatever tickled their tastebuds. They wouldn’t think that the kitchen was like Wal-Mart, open 24 hours a day. Crap. Why does everything always have to fall back on parenting? This gig’s hard.

Although I do have to mention that #3 fell asleep RIGHT AWAY last night, without the usual begging, pleading, up-and-out-of-bed-54-times routine…Sugar coma? Maybe.



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