“What do you want me to get, Mom?” Squints grabbed a cart and wheeled it to the produce section.
“A couple of pounds of cheese for sandwiches.” My kids live on grilled cheese during the summer. For each sandwich she makes, V puts on four slices of cheese. And she’ll eat two sandwiches for lunch.
“Snacks?” He waggled his eyebrows at me and grinned.
They also live on snacks. Unhealthy, expensive snacks that disappear minutes after they enter the house. “A bag or two. We’re on a budget.”
“Thanks, Mom!” And he was off.
“Check the ingredients,” I shouted after him. “Not too much salt.”
He met up with me as I was picking out chicken. He jammed the cheese into the cart and set two bags of pretzels on top. “Thought we’d try something new.”
“What’d ya’ get?” I shoved aside the pretzels.
He moved my hand. “No, Mom.” His face reddened. “You can’t look.”
“It was a little more expensive than usual.”
I pulled the package from the cart. Fifteen dollars a pound. I raised my eyebrows. “You bought Gruyere for grilled cheese sandwiches?”
“I just wanted to try it.” He looked at me, embarrassed. “Sorry. Is it too expensive?”
* * *
Squints had fifteen dollars to spend and when he has money to spend, you’d better get out of his way: he’s a man on a mission. He decided to get himself an iTunes card so he could download music onto his MP3 player. “OK if I download a book, Mom?”
“Sure.” Better that he listen to a decent book than the Black Eyed Peas.
But instead of downloading an audio book, he’d chosen one of those books for an electronic reader.
“You can’t use this, Squints.”
“I hate my MP3 player,” he said. “I want to sell it on eBay.”
“Hey Squints,” I said. “Better to make a fifteen dollar mistake when you’re young than make a fifteen hundred dollar mistake when you’re older. You’re supposed to make mistakes now. That’s your job.”
* * *
At the blueberry patch last week, a boy proudly held up his quart of blueberries to his father. “Look, Dad!”
The father reached in, plucked a blueberry off the top. “This isn’t ripe,” he said, tossing it onto the ground. And my heart sank for the little boy, because the week before that Squints held up his own quart of berries to show me. “Look, Mom!”
I didn’t see the work he put into the berries. I saw the half-ripened berries scattered here and there within the cardboard basket. “You have an awful lot of red berries in there.” And his shoulders hunched and his smile disappeared and I looked into my own basket and saw I had some unripe berries as well.
* * *
Against their policy, Apple refunded Squints’ money and for two nights, we ate grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. And I have to say, with lettuce and tomatoes, basil and mushrooms and onions from our local farmers’ market, one slice of Gruyere makes a pretty good sandwich. For two nights, we ate blueberries for dessert.
The red ones were a bit tart, but it was nothing that a pinch of sugar couldn’t resolve.
Labels: Blueberries, Boys, Buying Locally, Community, Consumption, Daughters, Girls, Raising Children, Sons