Misleading

Even though the picture on the box shows fruit in the cereal, that doesn’t mean there really is fruit in the box!

Pulling to a stop at an intersection, I picked up a map laying on the passenger seat to examine it. From the backseat, my eight-year-old daughter questioned loudly, “Are we there yet?”

I glanced back at Niki and her four-year-old sister, Tammie.  Slightly annoyed, I answered, “I’ve never been to your classmate’s house before. The map shows that we should be nearly there.” Putting the map down, I turned to the left and drove half a mile. A house on the left had more than one car in the driveway. The bleak, overcast fall afternoon made the yard look cold and forbidding. Thinking out loud, I questioned, “Is this the right place?”

Tonight was the first Girl Scout meeting at the new volunteer leader’s house. We got out of the car and walked toward it. All the uncertainty I felt disappeared when the backdoor opened and we were warmly welcomed.

One evening several months later when I picked Niki up from a Girl Scout activity, her troop leader said, “We’re planning an overnight trip to Camp Sacuguaya. I need a few mothers to chaperone and help make meals. Can you help out with this?”

I asked, “Would I be able to bring my four-year-old with me? My husband farms and is unable to watch her while doing farm chores.”

Tammie was very excited when she discovered she would be allowed to stay overnight at the Girl Scout camp with her big sister, Niki. The entire week before we left, she asked questions, packed, unpacked and repacked her bag.

On Friday afternoon the two girls and I drove to Camp Sacuguaya. The building had a large, central play space, a fireplace, kitchen, and bathrooms. The carpeted, safety-railed mezzanine fascinated the children. Everyone put their sleeping bags there. In their excitement, the children bounced from one end of the building to the other while the mothers prepared the evening meal.

After the meal, we took the girls for a walk. Green spears of new grass shooting up among the damp, winter-browned grass looked beautiful on that overcast spring evening. We collected pine cones, cedar fronds and pretty pebbles.

In the morning for breakfast, the other mothers and I put out plastic spoons, bowls, jugs of milk and several boxes of cereal and muffins. I never bought these cereal brands for my family. The pictures on the boxes showed fruit in the bowls. Tammie came to me, begging, “Mama, I want the stuff with the berries.”

I apologetically offered, “The picture shows berries in the cereal, but there are no berries in the box. This other cereal is sweeter. Would you like some of that?”

Tammie insisted, “I want the cereal with berries!” When I filled her bowl with the dry, unsweetened flakes, she was very disappointed.

Though my little daughter was only four at the time, she vividly remembers that misleading picture on the cereal box and the deep disappointment she felt. Tammie has mentioned her experience several times through the years.

Remembering her childhood confusion about the cereal, Tammie was especially tickled as a teenager when she watched the Saturday Night Live skit where Mike Myers a.k.a Linda Richman, lampoons his mother-in-law. The comedian, dressed as an older woman, put a hand on his chest and said tearfully, “I’m feeling ‘verklempt’. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic. Grapenuts. It contains neither grapes nor nuts. Discuss!”

Many things like pictures of nonexistent fruit on cereal boxes, google map instructions that takes you to the wrong end of town and the names of things like Grapenuts are misleading. People all over the world experience disappointment when expectations don’t match reality. Tammie learned this lesson early in life.

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