Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monkey Oatmeal (part one)

For the past week and a half, my daughter has requested nothing but oatmeal when I make breakfast.

Usually, she wants bananas in it. Bananas magically transform regular oatmeal into "monkey oatmeal" which is obviously desirable, because it includes the word "monkey." She'll also request apples, dates, etc--frozen berries, mangoes, and pomegranate seeds are probably next.

Wondering about her eccentricity today, I remembered an extended period on my mission when I ate oatmeal almost every day (usually with honey, since German stores don't sell brown sugar). My companion started to worry about me. A family we were teaching were disgusted when I told them: oatmeal is something you're forced to eat when you're sick, the father said. It's not something you should do to yourself voluntarily, let alone every day.

Remembering that month, for some reason, made me remember how much Kira's oatmeal kick is also reminiscent of the oatmeal my dad used to make for us, oatmeal with all kinds of different fruits in it. I can't recall exactly whether my mother made us oatmeal with any regularity; it seems more like something rooted into our relationship with our dad, a sort of twentieth-century bonding ritual. I remember him praising bananas, actually, for their high potassium content, healthfulness, and taste. He taught us to love them, and now I watch my daughter finish the unsliced half of her banana even when she's tired and having trouble feeling hungry as we rush her off to school.

And it's interesting the way that thinking about monkey oatmeal reveals the way in which time is better described as having layers than working in a line. Mornings with my father aren't somewhere behind me, they're under me, inside me, layers added in a continuing axis of intergenerational relationships. Kira's current oatmeal fixation isn't an event that will simply pass a way; it's a layer that's being added to our relationship, enriching and reaching down toward other layers and up toward a future when (God willing) Kira will have children and they will do something which will remind her, on a level which perhaps does not fully reach consciousness, that her father once sliced the banana just so with those long fingers of his and he stirred the oatmeal like this and he also waited for her to touch the first spoonful with the tip of her tongue before adding the milk to cool it.


  1. Mom would make us oatmeal, but I think it just had raisins in it. Dad's oatmeal was always more exciting.

  2. Years ago, the man who is now my husband complained to me that for ages his young sons would want only Menu X and be offended if he dared to serve them something else. Then, suddenly, they would claim that they hated Menu X, had never liked Menu X, and couldn't understand how he could be so cruel as to force them to eat it.

    Shortly after our marriage, when the kids were griping about a meal, I mentioned this to him and he had no memory of it. I still think its one of those Kid Things, though.

    Auntie S.


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