A million years ago when I was a teenager, I babysat a kid who thought that muesli bars were “lollies”. He’d never eaten, or presumably seen, lollies in his life. And the muesli bars he was allowed to have as a treat were the all-natural, organic, low-sugar kind, not the ones with caramel bits or chocolate on the bottom. I remain in awe at how his parents pulled that little deception off.
I hadn’t thought about that kid again until recently, when our online grocery order arrived with the wrong kind of muesli bars. I’d clicked the “allow substitutions” box so that the harried, overworked, underappreciated supermarket workers could have a slightly easier time packing our order. Unfortunately, the muesli bars they chose were the all-natural, organic, low-sugar kind that my kids absolutely will not touch.
Now, I would love to have the kind of time/motivation/desire to make my own muesli bars. But I don’t. I have three kids. And a job. And a lot of other stuff going on in my life that you don’t need to know about, but which prevents me from having the time/motivation/desire to make homemade muesli bars. So please don’t email me with your easy-peasy recipe for making homemade muesli bars that my kids are guaranteed to love. It’s not gonna happen. But if you’re one of those people making your own muesli bars, please know that I admire you and appreciate your efforts.
Truth be told, the muesli bars my kids like to eat are barely worthy of the word “muesli”, which, the dictionary tells me, is a mixture of oats, nuts, and dried fruit. I’m not even sure if those ingredients are present in my kids’ muesli bars. I should probably look at the label. I will do that, when I’m able to get to the supermarket again, and when I have the time/motivation/desire to do so.
So when we unpacked the groceries and discovered the muesli bar switcheroo, there was mutiny. “I. WILL. NOT. EAT. THESE.'” Master Eight thundered. “Ewwww!” Miss Three chimed in. “Gak, these are the gross ones,” Miss 14 said.
“You know,” I began conversationally, “I used to babysit a boy who thought that muesli bars were candy bars. He never had candy bars. Or other lollies. Ever.” I punctuated this with a raised eyebrow. The kids looked at me in disbelief.
“There are children,” I continued, “Who never have muesli bars OR lollies.” The kids looked sad.
“I will not buy you more muesli bars until these ones are eaten.” Now the kids looked disgruntled.
“I will also not buy you any lollies until these muesli bars are gone.” Their final expression: Terrified. Was I serious?
“I’M SERIOUS.” Those were my final words on the matter.
It’s been a week, and the rejected muesli bars are still in the cupboard, untouched. There are no lollies, either. I’m not sure how long this standoff is going to last.
I googled that kid I used to babysit for, wondering how he turned out, and how he reacted when he realised his parents had lied to him about muesli bars being candy bars. I couldn’t find anything. He’s probably the CEO of an all-natural, organic muesli bar company now, and has no online presence because he spends his free time mountain biking and going on long tramps in the bush and volunteering and doing other wholesome things, not bingeing Netflix series and scrolling through social media. Wherever he is, I wish him well. I also wish I had some chocolate. Because I didn’t think this through when I said I wouldn’t buy anybody any lollies until the muesli bars were eaten. I forgot I wouldn’t get any, either. Yet again, my kids have outsmarted me.
Editor, Tots to Teens