The rules of snack club
Welcome back, friends!
First, I want to thank Jill – again! – for giving me this platform to share my experiences raising two sons with autism. You can check out the rest of the series here, here, and here.
For today’s article, I am going to change things up a bit. You might remember that, not so long ago, something terrible happened to our world. Something that upended our daily routines, disrupted our entire lives, and forced us all to completely rethink and adapt virtually every aspect of our lives. And, while the end is perhaps in sight, and we’re nearly out of the woods, most of us are still just barely hanging on.
I’m talking, of course, about summer break.
Summer break was invented as part of a barbaric social experiment, carried out by researchers at the Royal Canadian Institute for the Criminally Insane. The researchers wanted to know exactly how much nonstop henpecking, bickering, fighting, antagonizing, whining, begging for snacks, indignant demanding of Internet, complaining of boredom, and other assorted bullshit at least half of the mothers in the control group could endure before they disassociate from their bodies and run screaming to the nearest Target.
They rounded up 100 rational, even-tempered, well-adjusted mothers and told them that if they completed this experiment, each would receive $1 million dollars, tax-free. The only catch was that the adults would be isolated, within a controlled environment, with two children per one adult for an indeterminate amount of time. No breaks, no scheduled alone time, not even your dirty business was off-limits. Every single word that comes out of your mouth can - and will - be interrupted, until you can no longer speak a whole sentence or have a complete thought. Nothing is off limits. Not your food, any of your personal things, and if one of your assigned children is a daughter who wears the same size clothes or shoes, she’s going to take your shit.
Someone was finally going to answer the age-old question of how much can one woman endure before she’d rather forfeit $1 million dollars than spend one more second listening to you KIDS AND YOUR #!(*#!)(&#!)*^ !?!??!
The answer is, of course, 75 days; almost the exact length of summer break. And thus, the nefarious crime syndicate, operated by the tallest James Bond villains (AKA the Department of Education), set our summer breaks at JUST long enough to preserve the sanity of just barely half of the adult population before sending these kids back to school.
And if you think that’s bad, you should research the equally cruel experiments they did with teachers to determine classroom sizes.
Summer break is the ludicrous notion that children need to spend more time with their families. But, what it really means is that children do mainly three things: (1) constantly come in and out of the house, leaving the door WIDE F@#!()$*)(!ING OPEN EVERY TIME when it’s 114 degrees outside and the State of Missouri is beleaguered by swarms of wasps, flies, and this weird, giant, fat flying bug that looks like a bee without stripes and sounds like a Harley Davidson under an overpass; (2) fight and argue in a simultaneously circular and arbitrary fashion:
13 year old to 12 year old: “Maggie, you didn’t wipe down the table.”
12 year old to 13 year old: “Yes I did!”
13 year old: “No you didn’t!”
12 year old: “Yes I did!”
13 year old: “No you didn’t!”
12 year old: “Yes I did!”
And on and on, until the end of time. Spoiler alert: the table never gets wiped down.
… and (3) demand food every 42 minutes.
Have you ever seen those National Geographic shows where they show an exhausted and exasperated mother bird who has spent, like, 39 straight hours flying around some inhospitable terrain, in a blinding storm, tirelessly searching for food, and when she finally spots one scrawny, malnourished field mouse and nose-dives down, only to have a scrap with a pissed off badger who thought she had dibs, has half of her wing torn off in the melee, and barely escapes with her life. But, she manages to get away with half of the field mouse, flies back to her nest where there are 5 endlessly peeping chicks with their mouths gaping open, begging for food. Momma bird thoughtfully and judiciously allocates the scraps to her precious babies, saving none for herself. No one asks about her day. Not one of them wants to know how long it took her to make this meal. NOT ONE OF THESE DAMN BIRDS SHOWS THE LEAST BIT OF GRATITUDE. NO, THEY JUST WANT MORE, MORE, MORE. WHY ISN’T THERE MORE!?
That’s my life in the summer. If I made a word cloud out of everything my children said this summer, the words “MOM” and “SNACK” would be in giant 6,000 point font approximately the size of Danny DeVito. If I hear “Mom, can I have a snack?” one more time, I’m going to eyeroll myself into another dimension.
I’m so glad I brought these beautiful children into the world so that my sole purpose in life is to be their Snack Bitch. I can’t even pee in peace. Invariably, somebody has – what they deem – an urgent issue:
“Mom, are you in there?”
“Uh. What are you doing?”
“(are they BLEEEEP kidding me?) I’m using the bathroom.”
“Oh. Um. Mom?”
“Um. Can I have a snack?”
“But Charlie had one.”
“He isn’t supposed to.”
“But he did.”
“That doesn’t mean you get one.”
“Can I have a snack in 5 minutes?”
At this point I am ready to explode through that bathroom door like the Kool-Aid Man, naked from the waist down, streaking through my own house shouting “OH YEAH!”
Eventually I emerge from the bathroom. Though I am red-faced, I’m fully-clothed and feeling amenable. The previous twenty minutes I spent shopping Prime Day in the thunder box for a flip-phone hip flask and caterpillar Crocs has temporarily restored my patience bank. I will forgive their trespasses on my potty time and I think I’ll dig out my secret stash of Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies to share with them. Afterall, they’ve been so quiet!
I walk to the closet in my office where I keep all my sacred snacks and surplus pantry staples. I pull the key from my pocket, slide it into the slot, and I turn the key and twist the knob together. Afterall, I’m feeling like I am pretty amazing.
At this point in summer, I should have known that any organic optimism I felt would be quashed swiftly, and without warning. I could see the carnage strewn all over the closet before I even turned the light on. Wrappers, crumbs, cardboard scraps, and this is the third time Little Debbie has shown me her empty box, just one day after I brought that B home. I slumped against the open door, my mouth agape. Befuddled, bewildered and deeply sad, I crumbled like a cookie.
These children were out of control. Lawless. It’s bad enough that they’re fighting over and ultimately eating all of their own snacks but now *deep breath-in, deep breath-out* they’re breaching my stronghold and pillaging my food. MY FOOD. This was an open and wanton act of aggression.
I summoned my husband and prevailed upon him to join me in this groundbreaking retaliation.
“Even though the shelves of my cupboard and many venerable boxes of snacks have fallen or may fall into the grip of the children and all the odious apparatus of adolescent tyranny, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in the kitchen, we shall fight in the basement, we shall fight in the refrigerator and the pantry, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength on the Internet, we shall defend our snacks, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the driveway, we shall fight on the couch, we shall fight in the bathrooms and in the hallways, we shall fight in that spot behind the chair where Charlie hides his wrappers; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, these snacks are stolen and we are left starving, then our friends and neighbors beyond our yard, armed, guarded, and equipped by Amazon Prime, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, these kids eventually graduate from high school and move out and we win by default.”
Roused by my plagiarism to victory and glory, we rage-purchased combination locks on Amazon and we took back the pantry, the refrigerator and the deep freeze and locked that shiz down. I knew the moment it worked, as I heard a rattling the next morning. Slow, cautious. Then increasingly frantic, as confusion gave way to comprehension, and my precious little angels realized that the food was no longer available on demand. Howls of fury echoed through the corridors of our home. Indignance gave way to desperate pleading, desperate pleading gave way to abject sadness, and abject sadness gave way to self-pity. They prostrated and begged, like street urchins from a Charles Dickens novel. After all, they hadn’t had a snack in almost 10 minutes.
And, in that moment, standing confidently and looking down upon my subjects from atop the culinary empire I had constructed, arms crossed confidently, I issued my First Proclamation.
“You may have a snack. But there shall be rules.”
● First rule of SNACK CLUB is you do not talk about Snack Club.
● Second rule of SNACK CLUB is you DO NOT talk about Snack Club.
● You get 14 snacks per week and you can consume them as you wish but my fat-snack-stash will not be made available until the beginning of the next week.
● You can have as many fruits and veggies as you want but I’m not going to the grocery store more than once a week and I will replenish at my convenience. I AM NOT YOUR FRUIT BITCH.
● If you take someone else’s snacks and are found guilty in mom’s court of DON’T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TAKE SNACKS THAT DON’T BELONG TO YOU, I will give your snacks to your siblings and make you watch them eat your snacks like starving hyenas.
● You may have ONE (1) dessert per day and that includes if you buy your own dessert on any of our sweaty adventures. Nobody needs more than one dessert per day unless you’re me. And none of you are.
● Mom may occasionally offer to buy a treat when we’re out and about but you ARE NOT ALLOWED to ask her to buy you any treats because she’s hanging on by a thread and it’s not even July.
● Unless given express permission, you are not allowed to eat anything except breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks, and one dessert per day. Food is expensive and I’m not made of money. You’re probably just thirsty anyway so get a big glass of water and shut the hell up already.
“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” – Winston Churchill
Mackenzie is a SAHM to five beautiful, hysterical, annoying-as-f#@k-sometimes kids. She worked so super hard in her twenties to earn an MBA only to retire and become her kids’ bitch. Now she spends her days dashing into the fray and taking power naps. You can catch her tossing quarters into her swear jar on her blog Mommy Needs A Swear Jar and on Facebook. She is confused by Twitter.