The Threat of Grape-Nuts Clarifies the Mind

So we do try to get our children to keep a clean and tidy room, and we’re probably a little ahead of the curve on it as they do “clean” the room fairly often (whenever they want video games). But “clean” the room often means to pile things willy nilly into their closet. This weekend, the youngest decided he would clean the closet, so he piled all of the things that had been accumulating in the closet onto the floor of the room.

Which overwhelmed them, the poor dears, and they refused to clean and organize the shin-deep collection of mixed-and-matched kid-a-brac. Worse, when told to clean their room, they defied the directive for a couple of days, which caused my beautiful wife to go all Draco on them, levying a punishment of 1 week of grounding from electronics per day until the room was clean.

Well, I knew that an abstract number of weeks stretching into the future wouldn’t motivate them. They cannot conceptualize being grounded from electronics until summer. Heck, even I cannot conceptualize eating healthy for a month on the Whole30® diet, and I’m 25 days through it. Also, I cannot remember what a doughnut tastes like, but I seem to recall it was really, really good.

Sorry, I was daydreaming there for a minute about carbohydrates.

After a couple of days, my wife bought boxes for the boys and told them to just take the stuff on the floor and to put it in the boxes, and we would store it away. Put all of it in the boxes. But the boys did not do such a thing in a timely fashion. As their archeological digs hit different strata of clutter, they discovered things that had been in their closet for months. Fun and interesting things that they must play with right now. So the room was not clean for days.

Instead of continuing with the one day, one more week of grounding policy, I levied additional sanction to impose every day the room was not cleaned. For each day the room remained a mess,

  • Bedtime is 8pm until the room is clean.
  • No sweets or desserts until the room is clean.
  • All “Can I…?” questions are “No.” until the room is clean.
  • No snacks after dinner until the room is clean.

None of these worked, as the children racked up sanction upon sanction until….

No sweet cereals for breakfast until the room is clean.

That itself was not the actual impetus to a clean room. It was that I actually bought the nastiest, most vile cereal I could remember from my childhood, which as you can imagine was bereft of any sweet-tasting cereal. Sometimes, Chex was the best we could hope for. The cereal I liked least in my youth:

So I bought it, and I put it on the counter, and I explained to the boys that it was neither grape nor nuts and that they could not put fruit in it like you see on the box. I also bought some Fiber One, which I explained was like the pellets you feed to goats at the petting zoo, but in milk.

Today, the room is clean.

“So I guess we’re eating some Grape-Nuts,” my beautiful wife said.

No, we are not, even in six days when this seemingly eternal torment of no-carbohydrates ends. The box of Grapenuts remains in our arsenal of threats to ensure compliance from our children. “Do it, or you get the Grape-Nuts.”