Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guilty thoughts of squirty cheese and Kool-Aid


***I realize now that I've written this that I what I thought was Cheez Whiz is really called Easy Cheese or Ready Cheese or something like that.  No need for squirty cheese connoisseurs to correct me.  I am obviously a novice, and stand corrected. km



I really do try to be a decent parent because when it comes to my children, I know that their general health and their behavior are the direct result of the upbringing my husband and I muddle through.
I correct their grammar.  I watch their language.  I encourage good moral character and am constantly forcing upon them such things as exercise, education, and healthy eating habits.  Generally speaking, it’s exhausting.  Parenting would be a much easier job if I didn’t give a hoot about how clean their bodies, mouths, and minds were.  I may not be so drained at the end of each day if I let them just eat French fries and didn’t check their homework.  But I do give a hoot and so it goes that by the time they are tucked in bed with clean teeth and a story with a life lesson, I collapse in a pathetic heap.
But the universe has something to say to me about all of it.  At the store where I do most of my grocery shopping, right on the end cap by the snacks and beverages is a full rack of something that seems to jump out at me every time I roll my cart by.  It practically leaps off the rack and challenges my very parenting techniques no matter how I try to avert my eyes.
It’s Cheez Whiz, that lovely cheese in a can with a nifty little squirty top so that you can make star designs in cheesy delight on top of your crackers.  And if you’re really good, you can make a perfect swirl design so that it builds up higher and higher in the middle of the cracker to form the most splendid little flop at the tip, so idyllic that it looks professionally decorated.  When no one is looking, you can even just squirt it into your mouth.
I know all of these things despite the fact that I have had not had any processed cheese in a bottle for years and years.  Obviously, I spent a good portion of my childhood eating Cheez Whiz.  The stuff was amazing, especially when you could give yourself a Cheez Whiz mustache which was just a line of orange that lay overtop an already shaded upper lip, thanks to the gallon of red Kool-Aid I drank every day. 
Drinking tropical punch like it was my job, my teeth and my clothes were stained red for years.  I was a skilled Kool-Aid maker and even more skilled Kool-Aid drinker because when it came down to it, I really only cared about the points that were listed on the back.  I saved enough for a t-shirt, a Frisbee, and my favorite, a Kool-Aid man shaped pitcher and two cups.  If I close my eyes I can still feel the wooden spoon in my hand and hear the sound of it scraping the pound of sugar around the bottom of that pitcher…
But here I am all those years later, and my poor kids are forbidden to drink red punch of any sort and have sadly never, ever enjoyed a cracker decorated with Cheez Whiz.  They’ve never had a three-day red-punch mustache and have never known the joy and wonderment of embellishing a piece of bologna with cheese-ish eyes, nose, and smile.  They’ve never even tasted the stuff and I couldn’t feel worse about it.
Sure, I’ve done my job filling their little bodies with healthier options.  I’ve made sure their cheese comes in a block and their beverages contain a little less of that crusty sugar that settles on the bottom of every jug of punch that was ever made.  But I have been selfishly keeping these genuinely fantastic things from them.  I’m not sure what side of good parent/bad parent that puts me, but I know that next time the Cheez Whiz stares me down in the store, I’ll toss it with a hefty heave ho into the cart and head down the beverage aisle.


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