Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Silly Rabbit, Trinkets Don’t Replace Hugs

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

The Impulse to Buy Mementos While Being Away From Home

The first few years after my parent’s divorce, my sister and I would eagerly wait for my mom to come home from work every night.

We were living in Barranquilla, and my mom was selling some form of financial products, either life insurance or mutual funds.

She grew up in Cartagena, so she often drove the two hours there to connect with old friends and sell them these products. Then, she would drive back home when she was done.

Most days, she was at home for dinner, but the nights when she wasn’t, she would arrive around nine. We would run towards it when we heard the keys jingling at the door. Once she was inside, we would always ask her the same question, “Where are the chocolates, woman?!?”

I’m kidding. I probably said something a lot nicer than that. Maybe, “Mom, did you bring us chocolates?”

My mom would always bring with her a flimsy plastic bag with blue and white strips where she had American candy bars like Snickers, Milky Way, Zero, Three Musketeers, and Butterfinger.

Then she would produce American chocolates, and we would be in heaven. She would hand them to us, and we would eat them before bed. How times have changed? I struggle to let my girls eat anything out of their Halloween basket and instead barter with them as if in a hostage negotiation, “The candy for a new doll.”

Maybe it is a little hypocritical to hold such a stance. I used to eat any candy I wanted whenever I wanted it if I could afford it. Oh, how right is the saying, “Ignorance is bliss… and it is also an insulin spike.”

Those candy bars in Colombia were not what they are now in the United States; the king monster-size full of fillers engineered to addict you and cleverly placed before the cashier so you can grab one and start munching on it, “Hungry? Grab an insulin crash!”

No, no, no.

They were exotic, sought after, revered, and an expensive symbol of luxury, or at the very least, disposable income — none of which we had.

American candy in 90s Colombia was so rare and expensive that once a year, my aunt Mary would drive me to the store in town that carried American cereals, and she would buy me, as a birthday gift, a box of Lucky Charms. “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!” Or translation, “Hey, dummy, marshmallows for breakfast are only for kids with parents who don’t care about nutritional values. Also, rabbits don’t talk.”

Oh, stop it! I know that’s not the motto for Lucky Charms. But Trix has a better one. What does “Magically Delicious” even mean? It just sounds like the cereal doesn’t have marshmallows but psilocybin.

Geez! They’re Always After me Funny Charms.

My mom wasn’t in a position to buy these treats. It was probably a way for her to show us she thought of us while away.

I know because I am confronted by the same feeling every time I am away from my daughters. When I’m away from home and traveling with United Airlines, I take the “That’s It” fruit bar they offer as a “free” snack. The bars are about sixty percent of the size of the regular bar.

I don’t eat them. The next day, after I’m home, I put them in my oldest daughter’s lunchbox, who delights in how little the bars are before taking a bite and remembering she doesn’t like them — even though it is one of the healthiest bars out there.

In these trips, I also find myself in a coffee shop, a bookstore, or a museum; I can’t help but rummage through the trinkets on the display. Trying to find the perfect one that tells my daughters, “I miss you so much!”

A part of me wants to get them trinkets, but the other part of me tells me I shouldn’t dilute the real reason they are excited when I come home. They are just excited to see me.

They might not know there is a world of candy and trinkets out there at the places where Daddy travels, but that parallel universe doesn’t exist to them when they are hugging me.

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