Breakfast Agonistes

A True Account of Events in the Rovira Household on the morning of Saturday, February 6th, 2016.

9:07 a.m.: Princess Grace (9) awakens and seeks out food.

9:10 a.m.: Princess Grace settles upon a desired breakfast item — Honey Nut Cheerios — in record time and pulls it out of the kitchen cabinet.

9:11 a.m.: Princess Grace discards the empty Honey Nut Cheerio box in disdain and retrieves the quite full box of Crispy Oats and places it on the breakfast table. She asks herself a question probably not for the first time, and certainly not for the last: why would someone put an empty box of cereal back in the kitchen cabinet? She then answers it to herself: “Penn didn’t want anyone to know that he ate the rest of it.”

9:12 a.m.: Princess Grace retrieves a bowl and samples the Crispy Oats, of which it is boasted upon its very box that it is “Heart Healthy,” and decides that it is in fact Pathetic. I fear a bias against healthy foods has begun, if it was not already well under way.

9:13 a.m. through 9:17 a.m.: Princess Grace attempts to drip honey out of a nearly empty honey bottle onto her Pathetic Oats. Father observes. Mother remains in bed reading, oblivious to her daughter’s life and death breakfast struggle.

9:18 a.m. through 9:20 a.m.: Princess Grace turns the honey bottle upside down on the breakfast table, keeping the cap carefully shut, and watches TV.

9:21 a.m. through 9:29 a.m.: Princess Grace returns to her honey bottle and, unscrewing the cap, discovers a nice little puddle of honey that has collected in its bottom. She then attempts to spoon it into the cereal. The cereal sticks to the spoon. Using her fingers, she then tries to coax the honeyed cereal back into the bowl.

She proceeds to lick her fingers, and then says, “I give up.”

9:30 a.m.: Father valiantly intercedes: “You should give up. It won’t work that way because the honey is too sticky. You’d need to melt it into a liquid to distribute it around the cereal, and then there probably isn’t enough to make it taste like much. Why don’t you dip the tip of your spoon in honey each time before taking a bite? Then you’ll have a bit of honey on your spoon every time.”

9:31 a.m.: Princess Grace is Not Buying It, but Has an Idea.

9:32 a.m.: Princess Grace gets a Carton of Milk from the Fridge and Pours its Contents onto the Cereal. There is a pathetic, insufficient little splash of milk.

9:33 a.m.: Princess Grace proceeds to retrieve the second carton of milk from the fridge. She pours its entire contents — five drops — onto her cereal. She may have coaxed a sixth drop out of the carton.

9:34 a.m.: Princess Grace has Done Something with the honey and the milk and the cereal that Father didn’t observe and is now happily eating. Father has now decided to Blog About It, titling his work, “The Great Breakfast Insurrection of 2016.”

9:35 a.m.: Princess Grace says to Father: “It worked! It tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios.”

9:36 a.m.: Father changes the title of his imagined work to “Breakfast Agonistes.”

9:37 a.m.: Princess Grace finishes her cereal and then proceeds to watch T.V. with her Siblings.

10:48 a.m.: Princess Grace walks by the kitchen and announces, “I am going back to bed.”

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The Children of the House


Last night, my wife took our children to the YMCA while I spent some time writing.  Yes, that includes writing for this blog, which means that I was writing about raising our children while my wife was actually raising them.  However, some of that time I spent assembling and setting up bookcases in our library, and around the time she was about to leave 1) I was not yet done and 2) my sinuses were in Full Revolt against the dust raised by my books. I did not feel like working out.  After three hours at the Y she came home and made the quickest dinner she could, which meant chicken all around (a slab of breast for   me — no complaints here — and chicken nuggets for the kids), freshly unfrozen peas and carrots, slices of oranges, and potato chips.

I helped with drinks.  I think I deserve a medal.


As we began to eat, I became conscious of the order in which I was eating my food. Can you guess? First the chips. Then the oranges. Then — no, not the chicken, because it had Solidified after about two days in the refrigerator — then the peas and carrots, and then I sliced up the chicken breast and made a sandwich out of it. My wife, a sort-of vegetarian, had to my envy a grilled cheese sandwich. But as I was noticing my eating habits I looked around the table to observe my children’s eating habits. First the chips. Then the oranges. Then the chicken nuggets. Then the vegetables.

After noticing that my wife had eaten a little bit of everything in various orders, I realized that only one adult was seated at the table that night. . .

Iced Tea and Capitalism

Earlier this evening, during dinner, I began a sentence to my wife with the words, “One time, when Josh and Steven were about eight or nine…” Before I could finish, she said, “You mean the iced tea thing?”  I’m taking her response as a sign that I need to get this story off my chest before I find myself doomed to repeat it ad infinitum, so I will blog about it here, establishing a Definitive Text of The Great Iced Tea Story.

Before I begin the story, however, I want to leave you with a single, undeniably useful kernel of information on the off chance that you find the story a waste of time. I feel that there are certain undeniable facts in life, and that once found, they must be immediately disseminated for the benefit of humanity.  These facts tend to take two forms: facts that accompany a positive good, such as a pleasure or benefit of some kind, and facts that help us avoid something uncomfortable or bad, such as those facts found in cautionary tales.

Being who I am, I will present the latter most of the time.

Today’s useful fact: it is an Unpleasant Thing to eat tortilla chips with a very dry mouth.  Consider yourself warned.

Now to the iced tea story. Once day, when my sons Josh and Steven were around nine or ten years old, around the time our family was living in a house on Wavecrest Dr. in Orlando and playing Back to the Future on our Nintendo, we all converged at once upon the refrigerator for a glass of iced tea.  I was slightly ahead of them, having removed the pitcher and started to pour when they arrived.  They both told me that they wanted iced tea too, of course, but as I poured out the pitcher we all realized there was only enough tea to only partially fill up an eight ounce glass.

Now, we had two options.  We could split this already pitiful glass of iced tea three ways, giving us all a gulp of tea, or we could somehow determine who would be the winner of the single glass of iced tea.  I chose the latter option, being a latter option sort of guy, and suggested a contest: “Okay, we’ll all pick a number between 1 and 10, and whoever gets the closest gets the glass of iced tea.  I got the number.  Go ahead and tell me your guesses.”

At first they liked the idea and started nodding, but they nodded with a certain, oh, disturbance about them.  Like they were bothered by something but couldn’t quite put their finger on it.  Now this disturbance, in the course of three or four seconds, increased to a preoccupation, like a puzzle to be solved, and then gelled to a realization, a dawning light of truth upon their situation, not just in terms of the last cup of tea, but in terms of life.  Almost simultaneously, they said, “Hey, you know what the number is!”

I laughed.  They laughed.  Then I drank the glass of tea.

In a single fell swoop my sons learned an invaluable life lesson about capitalism and scarcity and what happens to those who are neither holding the tea nor making the rules.

Not sure, but I think I made another pot of tea…