I believe in keeping my children’s expectations low. It’s amazing how little we can be happy with if we don’t know there’s something better available. And, there’s always something better out there, so don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ve got the best of anything.
Whey my children were toddlers, probably until they were around seven, they never tasted straight apple juice. I’d always fill a cup with half apple juice and half water. FringeMan thought my ways bizarre and once attempted to thwart my motherly plans of dilution by giving our son apple juice, straight up; however, my son handed him back the glass and asked him to add water. I’d successfully lowered my children’s expectation of juice down to the level of drinking tinted water. I thought I was a genius.
I potty-trained my children on an award system that paid them one Skittle for every time their potty made it into the toilet. One bag lasted us three months. My aunt scoffed at what amounted to below poverty levels of potty payment. My kids were happy with one Skittle.
Once we were having a little party with two year-old gremlins flinging Cheerios and drooling on the furniture. One of my friends had an older boy, meaning he was not only out of diapers, but he was also in school and could ride a bicycle without training wheels. When he asked for a drink, I poured him a nice tall glass of iced tea. He took one sip and quietly handed the glass to his mom. He whispered, “This tastes funny.”
Apparently I forgot I was making tea for mature taste buds and I may have cut the amount of powdered tea mix in half. After that, I always remembered to make full strength drinks for everyone over three feet tall.
I really lived a lifestyle of low expectations. It wasn’t just my drinks. I dreaded pre-school. My son ate lunch with his class three days a week and he discovered all sorts of culinary delights.
“Did you know they have yogurt you can squeeze?” He asked.
“All the kids have these little gummy smiley faces that have real fruit in them.” He told me.
“Juice comes in boxes with little straws you poke in the top.”
He was amazed. I almost felt a little bad, but I had to act surprised at the advancements in snack preparation that surely only took place in the last two weeks. After all, who would have thunk cheese comes in little sticks you can peel?
It was revolutionary. It also emptied my wallet faster than any four year-old could sip an undilluted box of juice.
Managing expectations is not a new parenting tool for me. It just gets more difficult to use as the years pass. That’s why I quit using powdered drink mixes. They know my tricks. It’s three against one in my house.
But I had a moment of nostalgia. It was the smiling face of the Kool-Aid man on a purple t-shirt I picked up for my daughter. Friday’s are school-spirit day in school, and nothing says school spirit like the Kool-Aid man, especially when it’s grape Kool-Aid and the school colors are purple and white.
That’s when I broke down and bought the little packet of .20 cent Kool-Aid, and served it up in nice tall glasses for dinner. I didn’t think my kids had ever tasted Kool-Aid. My son didn’t know what a Twinkie was until he was nine. Yes, I shelter them.
I thought my Kool-Aid would be such a treat. Then my son took a sip. “Did you add sugar?”
My husband swigged a big gulp.
“You didn’t use sugar.”
“Yes, I used sugar. I promise I did.”
“Well, this doesn’t taste like the Kool-Aid I drank when I was a kid.” FringeMan said.
I filled my mouth with food. A whole cup of sugar just seemed like a lot for two small quarts. That’s all.