The other day I went upstairs to unpack a bag, because Husband and I had been out of town for the weekend, and I wanted to get a little unpacking done while the 5-year-old twins were outside, jumping on the trampoline. I thought, foolishly, that they’d be jumping for a while.
Little did I know that while I was fully engrossed in the fifteen minutes of unpacking this cursed bag, these two delightful children snuck into the house (they’re nothing if not opportunists) and smuggled out five apples each. Which they ate. In fifteen minutes.
When I came back down, I immediately noticed that the bag of green apples I’d emptied into the fruit bowl had mysteriously disappeared.
Of course I knew what had happened. But I wanted to give everyone a chance to confess.
I called all the boys inside and pointed to the fruit bowl. “What happened to all the green apples?” I said. I wasn’t angry, wasn’t accusing, I simply arranged my voice into a cauldron of curiosity.
“I don’t know,” the 8-year-old said, his eyes fastened on mine. I believed him.
The 7-year-old and the 10-year-old said the same, and I believed them, too. But when I turned my attention to my twins, they avoided like I had some kind of contagious disease. Which, of course, told me everything I needed to know.
“Did you take the apples?” I said.
One of them pointed to the other. “He took four,” this one said.
“And he took five,” the other one said. They prefer tattling on each other over confession.
As a natural consequence, their snacks were revoked for the rest of the week, because my boys already eat so much that every time I go through the grocery store line, cashiers ask me if I run a daycare (kind of), if I make a lot of smoothies (sometimes), if I live with a handful of monkeys (yes, I do), and many other creative questions.
It might sound cruel to revoke snacks for the rest of the week, but when you’re 5 and you consume five apples in one sitting, it logically follows that they’ve eaten their allotted share of snacks for the rest of the week. They’ll eat enough food, regardless. Trust me. Snack time is just one of many times they find an excuse to shove food in their face. Some kids don’t even get snacks. This is a first-world problem.
Plus, there are many other things they can eat. My boys are creative when it comes to filling their bellies. Here’s a list of all the things they’ve tried to eat (and probably will again).
1. A ladybug.
One day one of my boys double-dog-dared his brother to eat a ladybug, and everybody knows that you can’t turn down a double-dog-dare. So some unlucky boy swallowed a ladybug and called it a day.
Most of the world, you might know, consumes insects already, so this really isn’t that big a deal. In fact, it might be considered an exotic delicacy. My sons’ bug-catching skills will come in handy when the food supply wanes and we need bugs rather than animal meat for our daily protein intake. So thanks for the practice, guys.
I don’t know what it is about dirt that appeals to my 5-year-old twins, but every time they come into the house after playing outside, it’s quite obvious that they’ve been feasting on it. It’s not that they aren’t getting the nutrients they need, which is a strange phenomenon of the body, to demand dirt when mineral intake is low. We eat plenty of whole foods, and, as I said, they sometimes eat five apples in one sitting. I think they just like the taste of dirt in their mouth. Which is weird to me, but I guess it’s better than eating something else that’s brown.
Every now and then one of the boys will come in and say something randomly shocking, like, “That grass was really tasty.” I’ll do a double-take and say, “What was that?” thinking I haven’t heard him clearly. But I did, and then I can’t even pretend I didn’t hear him clearly, because he has another pile of grass in his palm, stretched out to me. I politely decline. Thanks, but no thanks.
4. Raw beans.
Since there is no reason you would ever want or need to eat raw beans, I simply pretend not to see it.
5. Pencil erasers.
Every pencil that I pull out of the container where we keep them no longer has a working eraser. The other day I put on my Sherlock Holmes cap and observed the teeth marks inflicted all over the pencil body and the twisted metal on its end and the apparent nonexistence of the tiny white or pink cylinder. The only thing I can logically conclude from these observations is that my boys like to eat synthetic rubber. Hope it all comes out all right.
6. LEGO pieces.
One day the 10-year-old was building with LEGO pieces, and he said that they smelled really gross.
“Why would they smell?” I said.
He shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Two minutes later, I saw one of the 5-year-olds with a mouthful of LEGO pieces. He looked like a chipmunk storing up nuts for the winter.
“Get those out of your mouth,” I said.
“Mmfuolkay,” he said. I don’t actually know what he said, but I do know that he bent over the LEGO mat and heaved up LEGO pieces, along with volumes of kid slobber. I felt a little sick to my stomach after watching him, thinking of how many germs were likely living in that LEGO mat. It’s no wonder the LEGO pieces smelled.
I’ll never build with them again.
We buy sugar free gum that doesn’t contain harmful ingredients because we’re annoying health freak parents. What this mostly means is that gum is not cheap. And my sons go through it like candy. We have a rule in our house that they’re only allowed to have one piece of gum a day, but someone is breaking this rule, judging by how quickly a bag empties.
But the biggest problem is really what they do with their gum when they’re finished with it. Sometimes they do what they’re supposed to do—spit it in the trash. Other times they’ll stick it on the counter while they pour a glass of milk or have another apple, and then they’ll conveniently forget they were saving it for later so that the next time we lose our balance and nearly fall (and by we, I mean me), we have the privilege of scraping someone else’s gum off our hands. Sometimes the less thoughtful or perhaps those less efficient at aiming inside the trash, will leave a piece on the floor, where it will either stick to the bottom of an oblivious shoe and be carried all over the house, or our cat will think it’s a fun, sticky ball and leave this treasure in random, unexpected places for one of us to flatten beneath our cheeks, a delicious decoration for our derriére.
It’s so fun living with kids.
Why don’t I outlaw the gum? you might be asking. The answer to that is simple: gum tricks my sons’ stomachs into thinking they’re actually eating. Which is important in a house where the grocery bill is already more than you pay for housing. And teenage years aren’t even here yet.
My point, in all of this, is that boys will try anything once. Sometimes twice or more. Which is great when we’re introducing a new exotic vegetable, like eggplant or artichoke or bok choy, all of which they’ve so far refused, in case you’re wondering.
Thanksgiving is coming up. That means my boys will likely be hovering around the stove, peering into the oven, and generally getting underfoot, unaware of how difficult this makes getting dinner on the table in a decent amount of time. So if they do this year what they do every year, I think I’ll throw out a few experimental snacks: branches, mud pies, and maybe even a few raw grasshoppers.
Everything’s worth trying once for a double-dog-dare (except toilet water. And anything that might drop in toilet water. Please don’t.).