In a recent conversation with my sister we reminisced about our childhood. No, this didn’t involve sappy stories about how loving we were towards each other, or about how she was my older, more sophisticated, adoring sibling – that’s another blog. There isn’t enough time or space to write about her tormenting ways. However, we did agree on one thing and that was the odd and downright nearly obsessive compulsive eating regimen that our mother had us on. Let me just be clear on one thing, I love my Mom. I love her for who she is and what she has inspired me to be. That being said, her earlier years of motherhood and food choices were a bit questionable.
I was 6 or 7 I believe, and my sister was nearing 10 or 11, and my Mom got this bright idea that eating “organic” was going to be our new way of life. I’m all for home-grown veggies and fruits, and for trimming the fat off of a slab of beef – but for the love of all things living, I cannot condone shunning a gallon of milk and being excited for powdered milk and carob chips. Our pantry dissolved into this co-op of spinach noodles, powdered milk, puffed wheat cereal and a massive dehydrator that was used for our “snacks”. Home Pride bread was replaced with homemade wheat bread and cookies and sugar snacks were a thing of the past.
I’m not sure what prompted my parents to splurge and purchase a bag of Keebler Grasshopper Cookies®, but they did. My sister and I were elated with this new arrival of lard and chocolate all wrapped up into one yummy minty goodness and the eyes said it all. Mom immediately set ground rules for the cookies (to which I cannot recall what they were, but they were serious rules probably involving a lashing of some sorts if the cookies were touched) I’m actually surprised that she didn’t secure the pantry door with a siren alarm. My sister, being the ridiculously mischievous little girl that she was already had a plan conjured up in her head on how we were going to enjoy the forbidden chocolate goodness.
That night my sister and I went to bed all giddy and excited that tomorrow could be the day that we get to experience all the rave that our friends were accustomed to. Yes, we were sheltered children. We shared a bed, except I cannot remember why because I distinctly remember having my own bed at one point. At any rate she whispered to me “You want a cookie?” My little ears perked up and my mouth spit out something like “We aren’t allowed and Mom will get mad and how will you get the cookie and I don’t want to get caught and Mom will get mad and ….” Before I could finish my 1st grade thought she was gone and back with the whole package of cookies.
We sat in our bed and ate the entire package of Grasshopper cookies. Twenty something cookies and a major sugar – my head won’t stop spinning and why do I have diarrhea of the mouth – episode later and we were officially in a diabetic coma.
My sister must have put the empty cookie package back in the pantry, yeah because that’s not obvious or anything; because I woke up to “Who in the BEEP ate the BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEP cookies??!!!” My sister and I jolted out of bed and immediately ran into the kitchen to investigate the cookie hijacking. My Dad entered in as nonchalant as usual, and both my parents stared directly at my sister. Forgetting I was an accomplice to this horrific act of betrayal I blurted out “Oooooh you’re in trouble!!”. My Mom shot a glare at my Dad, back to my sister, over to me and off in one giant leap for mankind she was in our bedroom. She ripped the covers down and in one regrettable moment I realized “Oooooh I’m in trouble….” Now, as children often do when they’re busted, we both immediately started crying. My sister was tap-dancing around trying to come up with one lame excuse after another and I followed along.
Mom: “What were you thinking?”
My Sister (crying and babbling): “I don’t know”
Me: (following my sisters routine): “I don’t know”
Mom: (madder than a hen) “You ate the WHOLE PACKAGE OF COOKIES!!!”
My Sister (still crying and babbling): “I know”
Me: (sobbing at this point): “She made me do it!”
It was that little remark right there that got us both a one-way ticket to the “Choose Your Punishment” game. I can’t remember what I chose, or what my sister chose, but I definitely remember the disappointment in my Mom’s voice when she spoke the words “I will never buy cookies again, you girls have proven to me that you can’t handle it.” We were doomed to carob chips and dehydrated banana’s for the rest of our lives, along with the occasional uneventful trip to the local Co-Op for all natural liquorice – mmmmm.
After my parents divorced my Mom took a job with a local grocery chain doing some advertising bits. The whole organic phase fizzled out. However my sister and I were still somewhat deprived of sweets. A vendor gave my Mom a box full of Ghirardelli baking chips complete with bags and bags of White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate – anything chocolate chips. Bags of them! In the course of a day – yes, a day, my sister and I managed to polish off 8 bags of baking chips. We stuffed the chair with our spoons and empty wrappers and proceeded to run around the house like striped ass monkeys on crack until Mom came home.
Mom couldn’t figure out what we got into but she knew something was up. I’m not sure but I think the fact that we were swinging from the ceiling fan. It gave her a pretty big clue that our usual after school snack of cheese and tortillas was not a key factor.
Later that night my Mom went to the cabinets to make some chocolate chip cookies and there was that oh so familiar tone – “I cannot BELIEVE you ate ALL the chocolate chips!! How do you eat 8 BEEPING bags of chocolate chips!?” Déjà-vu all over again. My sister started balling, I started crying and there we were tap-dancing around trying to come up with excuses as to what possessed us to be so indulgent and inhale all those chocolate chips.
As a parent of a sugar-deprived child myself, I now know that my Mom was only trying to be more cautious of what toxins we put into our bodies. I see that glazed over saliva forming look that my son gets when a donut enters our house. This momentary manipulation kicks in and random shit like “Oh, I’ve never had a glazed donut before” comes out of his ingenious little mouth. In hopes that I would say “Really? You poor thing, well who am I to stand in your way of sugar and carbs, please, enjoy all twelve of them!”
It’s no wonder my hips are the size of Oklahoma with all the crap that I vowed I would eat as an adult because my Mom wouldn’t let me enjoy it as a child. I actually remember telling her “Well when I’m grown up I’m going to buy all the candy bars I want!” As if I was crushing her dreams of making me a sugar-free kid. I’m learning how to control my Grasshopper cookie and Ghirardelli fantasies. And in the interim, it’s good conversation for my sister and I. I find it – therapeutic.