I Was a Cereal Killer – One Mom’s Cautionary Tale

What have I done?

I know my 11-year-old son is a competent kid.  He likes to help his dad out at the store and recently our neighbors hired him to look after their cats while they are away on vacation.  He does well in school, is a brown belt in karate, loves to play both classical and pop tunes on the piano, puts his dirty clothes in the hamper (mostly), keeps his room fairly neat, is always up and dressed for school on time, is helpful, polite, and is never ever sick at sea.

So I was a little thrown this morning when I found him looking at a YouTube video on how to make a bowl of cereal (I was kind of relieved, there are worse things to look at on YouTube).  But. . . seriously?? He doesn’t know how to fix a bowl of cereal?  How did that happen?  I looked at the computer screen, fairly surprised that there must be other kids in the same situation judging from the variety of  videos available on this subject.

While I admired his initiative to find an answer to his dilemma (there isn’t anything you can’t learn to do via YouTube – scary) I wondered why he just didn’t ask me to pour him a bowl of cereal.  The truth is, whenever he says “I’m hungry”, I jump like some Pavlovian dog, ready to fix him a snack or get him a drink or start dinner a little earlier.  It’s well known that hearing your baby cry during the early weeks of life can cause a mother’s breasts to leak milk – his call for food just speaks to my primal instinct as a mom to make sure my baby is fed.

But the fact is, he’s not a baby anymore.  He knows where the kitchen is, but thanks to me I realized that it’s a bit of a mystery to him how the food magically appears on a plate or in a bowl.  It became obvious why he didn’t ask for my help.  His quest to figure out how to fix his own breakfast is an assertion of his increasing self-reliance.  He’s letting me know that he’s now capable of fixing his own breakfast/snack/whatever.  Maybe next he’ll let me know that he’s capable of doing his own laundry.

I watched him silently as he fixed his own cereal, poured his own juice and sat down at the table to eat breakfast.  It’s a kitchen, I reminded myself, it’s not like he has to go out and forage for nuts and berries.  I smiled, happy and a little sad that my baby son is becoming more self-sufficient by the minute, before my very eyes.

You know, this could be a very good thing.  I wonder if he can learn to whip up breakfast in bed in time for Mother’s Day?  I’m sure there must be a YouTube video for that. . .

Images courtesy of YouTube and Google Images