Monday, January 9, 2012

The Other Eight Days: Yogurt with Berries and Cereal

Every now and then, my parents abandon us kids at home to go on vacation.  It started when I was in seventh grade when our parents announced that they were going on a month-long cruise. I was exalted... until they told us that we kids would be staying at home and going to school.

In eighth grade, they went on another cruise. Then two summers ago, my mom and my older brother went on vacation while Kyle, my dad, and I stayed at home. Last December, my family went skiing in Montreal—without me. While they were tearing up the slopes, I was stuck at home, tearing out my hair as I practiced piano until my back hurt. Last summer, my entire family except my older brother went down to the States to do some shopping and sightseeing for a couple weeks. But not me; I had summer co-op and a volunteer job.

Interspersed between all the major vacations are all the cruises and overnight trips. In December 2011, my parents went on another cruise. While they were sitting on the skydeck of some huge ocean cruise liner sipping tonic waters, we were left at home again. In all honesty, I actually like being at home sans parents. Sometimes, I need a vacation from them too.

The biggest issues of being without parents: the lack of meals and rides. Without my mom to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and to give us rides to places, we’re responsible for ourselves. Walking to school in the early morning sucked, but it’s definitely the regular meals that I missed the most. Frozen steaks, pasta, and tacos become our staples when we decided to actually make dinner.

Dinner or no dinner, breakfast can easily be replaced by a bowl of Yogurt with Berries and Cereal and a couple Super Muffins. On the morning of Day Two, I woke up at a leisurely pace, taking my time to rub the sleepiness out of my eyes. Then I made my way downstairs and fixed myself a bowl of yogurt and unwrapped a few Super Muffins. The reason why these muffins are super: they're unbelievably healthy.  They’re butter-less, oil-less, sugar-less, eggless, and flourless, and instead, contain mashed fruits, cornmeal, oatmeal, flax seed, oat bran, dried cherries, and shredded coconut. As tasty and filling as the yogurt and muffins were, I wondered dryly whether the remainder of my meals sans parents would consist of cereal and muffins. After all, a vacation isn’t a vacation if you’re hungry.

To celebrate the first parent-less night, I decided to catch up on season two of Lost. And ended up forgetting about dinner altogether. On Day Two, I made Parmesan Thyme Popovers and Kale Chips and called it a night.

Day Three, I decided to call a family meeting when I got home from school to discuss what we were going to eat for dinner. My older brother wasn’t home and my cousin appeared to be asleep.

“Some family meeting,” Kyle said. “Half our family isn’t even here.” Actually, it was more like two-thirds, but I didn’t think Kyle would have appreciated that observation so I refrained from saying it out loud.

“So what do you want for dinner?” I asked. “Steak?”

Kyle mumbled that he had already eaten bacon and eggs when he had arrived home. “And I’m full from all that food you gave me.”  

“Oh, right, that.” I replied. I had wanted to get rid of the leftover Chocolate Chip Cookies, Popovers, and fruit flan leftover on the weekend, so I had put all of it on a plate and brought it up to Kyle’s room. Obviously, he had mistaken the gesture (as he was supposed to) as one of kindness (which it was) and had eaten everything.

“I’m okay with skipping dinner,” I said. He consented and we went our separate ways. But then my older brother came home and announced that he was going to order pizza. So we had an overpriced $35 pizza, chicken wing, and garlic bread meal. And we were doing so well…

On the Fourth Day, we made tacos. After school, I went to the grocery store to pick up some cheese and bell peppers. As I walked home, I called Kyle.

“Hey Kyle, can you start chopping onions and vegetables and stuff for the tacos? I’m going to be home soon.”

“I can’t.” he replied immediately. “I. Spilled Coffee. In my room. I didn’t even get to drink it!” he whined. “I spent an hour cleaning it up.”

Okay, so clearly he was in no mood to help me make dinner. I felt vaguely guilty because I had suggested he make coffee to go with the biscotti that Melissa had mailed me for the Cookie Swap.   

“All of a sudden, I get attacked. By myself.” He continued.

“Um, okay,” I replied, grateful that he couldn't see me rolling my eyes. “I’ll see you when I get home.” I quickly ended the call.

When I arrived home, I took one look at the kitchen and turned away in dismay. The sink was filled with dirty dishes and there was no doubt that the ones in the dishwasher were still clean; now that my mom was gone, there was no one to take care of the dishes.  

To my surprise, the dishwasher was empty. Kyle must have put them away. I can’t imagine that my cousin even knows where all the dishes are stored. I cleared the sink and then got started on the meat filing for the tacos. Eventually, Kyle and Alex came down and up to the kitchen to help me make dinner. I took the backseat and started the laptop up so I could work on my English essay. As Kyle worked on grating the cheese, Alex chopped the vegetables up in the most haphazard way.

“Whoa, slow down there,” I said. “We don’t have a car and I’m not legally allowed to drive you to the hospital when you slice you finger off.”

He slowed down.

Eventually, Alex drifted off and Kyle finished cooking the beef and vegetables. He retrieved a stack of bowls from the shelf, made himself a taco, and sat down in front of me.

“Aren’t you guys going to eat?” Kyle asked, the beef juices already leaking from his soft-shell taco.

“Yeah, go get them,” I replied distractedly. I was actually a little wary of tacos. The last time I had eaten them was during the Biology Field Trip. I had eaten four tacos, not because they tasted good, but because I was so hungry from picking and choosing all the other meals. Right after we boarded the bus and I ended up feeling nauseous the entire two-hour trip back home. 

Guess who ate yogurt for dinner again?

“Time to eat,” Kyle said at regular volume, making a show of turning his head towards the hallway as if that would magnify his voice. He picked up his taco and began to eat.  


  1. I'm the laziest cook when I am home alone. I live off of popcorn and eggs. And maybe a pot of beans or soup. I got really sick off of a bad burrito years ago (one of those gigantic things that no one can ever finish) and I've avoided them since. I will eat tiny burritos, but the big ones scare me.

  2. I used to eat cereal for dinner all the time in college and even well into medical school. It happens and it's delicious! I approve.

  3. Cereal is my favourite midnight snack... well, actually sandwiches are, but usually after I've had a sandwich I still feel hungry so I get cereal too :D Yummy :) Too bad half your family takes off for a vacation without the other half :( I'd be pretty sad if I was younger and my parents did that...

  4. Those fresh berries look extremely delicious! I know that the only time we were without my mom for an extended period of time, my dad bought nothing but frozen food and cereal to cover our meals! We were just kids so we thought it was fun!


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