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Tricks of the Trade

Another thing to fight over — who gets to eat their week’s worth of sugar in one go while having the box in front of them

IS it only me, or is Shabbos cereal just another thing  parents buy to harm themselves?

I’m not even referencing the normal arguments it brings in its wake. (Does “He has more than me!” “Her milk is more chocolaty than mine!” “I want the white bowl!” “She’s looking at me!” sound familiar?) Oh, no, I’m talking about next-level issues.

Baruch Hashem, I have a houseful of mostly shul-attending boys who don’t eat before davening, so the Shabbos cereal-eating time gets a bit more complicated. We eat right when they come home from shul, so in the summer months, it becomes Seudah Shlishis, and in the winter, it’s Melaveh Malkah.

But the real issues start when they forget to have their cereal on time. Enter the cereal-bowl currency negotiations.

It goes like this: “I don’t want to eat this plate of chicken, rice, and salad. Instead, I’ll cash in the bowl of Shabbos cereal I didn’t have three weeks ago, please.”

I’ve also overheard my kids swapping jobs for their portions: “If you unload the dishwasher instead of me, you can have my bowl of Shabbos cereal next week.” Followed by, “I’ll top his one bowl of cereal for the one I still have from two weeks ago plus next week’s — if you take out the garbage!”

I can hardly imagine what these UN-style discussions would look like if we had more than one cereal option; fortunately, my kids share a universal preference. Our family’s cereal of choice? Trix®!

For any moms who are unfamiliar with this rabbit-plastered red box of sugar and preservatives, Trix cereal is shaped like neon-colored fruit but has zero resemblance in taste or nutritional value to the real thing.

Is this our cereal of choice because I believe that somehow by osmosis, my children will connect Trix to the natural stuff that grows on trees?


Is this our cereal of choice because I allow myself to believe the limited amount of fiber in the cereal makes it healthy?


Is this our cereal of choice because it’s usually on sale? (Due to all you good moms who don’t buy it and generate a surplus in the stores?)


But the real reason Trix holds a special spot in our hearts is on the back of the box.

If you’re my age or older, you must remember the fights and cries and tears over who got the coveted cereal prize. I think I still have physical scars from when my brother miscalculated and thought it was his turn. (It was my turn, Mom!) I’m not sure when the cereal companies stopped giving out these trinkets (some say it was a financial decision over the cost; I say a bunch of moms protested in front of the cereal factories and begged for an end to the trend), but all I have to say is that maybe if Fiber One® or Raisin Bran® had included prizes, I would have been a healthier eater.

Prizes aside, the Trix box has a search game! Another thing to fight over — who gets to eat their week’s worth of sugar in one go while having the box in front of them. (I so have not cracked this mothering code.)

The back of the box is filled with pictures and shapes and a list of what you have to find to win. I’ve been begged to play this game enough times that I can list exactly where each item is even while napping on the couch. (It’s kind of like playing Candy Land with your kids while folding laundry — you let them pick cards for you and move your menschie around the board and then gleefully celebrate when you still manage to win.)

Sometimes, when I’m feeling overly ambitious, I’ll list four things they need to look for consecutively, so they get to activate some brain neurons even while they’re inhaling abnormal amounts of sugar and food coloring.

But what has me stymied is why the same child who will spend a very long time looking for the elephant on top of the ball on the back of the box insists that she looked everywhere (and forever) for her shoe but just can’t find it? (For the record, it was beside the other shoe, just under the sweater she wore yesterday and discarded on the floor.)

Or why the same kid who counted and recounted the 25 lemon slices on the back of the box can’t find a fork in the cutlery drawer.

I haven’t given up, though. Inspired by the Trix game, instead of telling them exactly where a lost or misplaced item is, I’ll say, “Remember how hard it was to find that card on the Shabbos cereal box? Pretend your shoe is part of the game! Just make sure to move the robot and look under the crayon.

“Oh, sweetie, you can’t find the headband that you were wearing literally all day yesterday and went to sleep with? Gee, I wonder where it could be! Pretend it’s the Trix tennis ball and make sure to look around the stuffed giraffe and the milk carton.

Is the tactic working?

Not much.

But it does motivate them slightly when I threaten, “If you can’t find your shoe, you also won’t be able to find Shabbos cereal in the closet.” Empty threat? Of course. Will I continue to buy Shabbos cereal? You can be sure of that.

But I really won’t tell them where the box of Kariyot cereal (only for Mommy!) is hiding. Then again, even if I do, it’s safe. They’ll never be able to find it.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 893)

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