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Terri Simon

Chops, steaks ... or Jell-O?

It was a busy Saturday at the grocery. I hadn't been to the store for quite a while, so I found myself going up and down every aisle, attempting to get in and out of the grocery as quickly as possible. As I made my trek through the store, I realized I was going up every aisle as a Mom and her son were going down every aisle.

The boy was cute — probably about 8 or 9, and even though his mom seemed a bit flustered, it appeared she, too, was trying to make quick work of grocery shopping. However, it wasn't happening that easily for her.

You see, in every aisle, Mom was asking her son what he wanted her to buy.

"Do you want red apples or yellow apples?" she asked.

"Red," he answered.

"Do you want green grapes or purple ones?" she asked.

"Both," the young boy said.

"Do you want these rolls or these?" she asked as she picked up some fresh bakery products.

"Those," he said pointing to a particular bag.

"Do you want these long pickles or the sliced ones?"

The boy answered by grabbing the jar from his mother and putting it in the shopping cart.

"What kind of salad dressing do you want for your salad?"

He responded by snatching a bottle off the shelf and adding it to the cart.

"Do you want pork chops for dinner, or do you want pork steaks?" she asked.

Does an 8-year-old kid know the difference? I watched as he studied the two packages and pointed to the one he wanted.

"How about for tomorrow? Do you want me to fix a roast or spaghetti?" she asked, and upon hearing her son's answer, she grabbed some hamburger out of the meat cooler.

Cereal, vegetables, pasta, soup, cheese, jelly, peanut butter, frozen foods ... no kidding. Before anything went into the cart, Mom consulted her child. The little grocery king made every decision; Mom didn't argue. She only bought what her child told her to buy.

Many, many, many, many years ago when I was that young, our choices at the grocery were far more limited — almost nonexistent. Every week, we three kids got to choose one box of Jell-O. No kidding. While it was a big deal at the time, the three of us would stand in front of the Jell-O display for many minutes, trying to persuade the others to choose the flavor we wanted. And then about once a month, we got to choose our very own Swanson TV dinner. That was huge! And once a year, we got to choose what kind of cake mix we wanted our adults to buy to bake for our birthday. Every other item bought at the Piggly Wiggly was out of our hands. After all, it didn't matter, since we would eat that which was put before us — or be hungry. It was that simple.

Please don't write me letters and tell me about your child who is a picky eater. Also, I know it's important for children to be able to make decisions that affect others, and allowing them to choose a couple of items at the grocery which Mom will prepare for the entire family might be a good learning experience.

But this was different. This kid had his own catering service (also known as "Mom"), and I couldn't help but think that she wasn't doing her son any favors by letting this young child dictate his every whim in the grocery. I also have to believe the grocery shopping isn't the only thing this child orchestrates. While there's nothing wrong with a child being the center of his parents' universe, there are tons of ways an adult can show his/her love for their child without allowing them to rule the proverbial roost.

Some day down the road, this little boy might get a rude awakening, when he has to realize the world does not revolve solely around him. And if his reign continues, I already feel sorry for any wife this boy will choose in the future.

Pork chops or pork steaks? Come on! Send the kid to the Jell-O aisle and move on!

Tonica News Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@tonicanews.com.

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