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Oat-Times Remembered

This morning as I stood in the kitchen cooking oatmeal, my mind tripped back into my more and more distant past. It was a lovely Summer morning. I was at my uncle’s home, having spent the night, and my cousins and I tumbled out of our beds like puppies and ran outside to conquer the day. As we charged past my aunt she yelled, “Don’t go far. Breakfast is cooking.” At least one of us probably answered her, but she and her warning were both forgotten before we’d cleared the back porch.

Several hours later we were down by the creek making pine needle rafts, when somebody said, “I wonder if breakfast is ready?” We all froze, and listened. My aunt had a huge cowbell she rang to call us in for meals. No echoes from it lingered on the breeze.

“Can we even hear the bell from here?” Caution asked.

“I doubt it,” Rumble responded.

“I’m hungry,” Tattle wailed. Suddenly we were all hungry — ravenous, even. We scrambled back through the woods and into my aunt’s kitchen. It was empty save for the faint aroma of sausage.

My aunt entered the kitchen right behind us. She informed us that we had missed breakfast, but lunch was in two hours, and we’d just have to wait. She had a garden to weed, besides, she wasn’t running a restaurant.

We shuffled back outside and sat glumly on the stoop for about 45 seconds, then something caught our fancy and we ran off to play. When we judged that the appropriate time for lunch had come we bounced back to the house only to discover yet again that we had missed it. The kitchen was clean and my aunt was mucking out the barn. She ordered us to go get cleaned up because we were going to Grandpa and Grandma W’s in just a few minutes.

Cookies! We washed and brushed and dressed in a flash. Grandma W. would feed us!


Aunt explained to her mother, Grandma W., that we had chosen not to come in for our regular meals, therefore we were not permitted any snacks! Grandma W. put the cookie jar away. We went outside, shuffled over to the barn and climbed up on the coral rails, where we sat like pouting magpies. Whimpers, whines, and choruses of, “I’m hungry,” accompanied us.

Tattle, my youngest cousin, was crying in earnest. We sent her back to the house alone thinking they might at least feed her, but she returned in moments still wailing. That’s when Caution, the eldest of us, got this great idea. “Come with me!” He ordered. “I know where there’s food!”

We followed him into the barn and straight to the oat bin. Food! We dug in with both hands. Who could have predicted that raw oats would taste so good?

Of course they made us thirsty.

Our next stop was the pump. Caution worked the long red handle and got the water flowing. We gulped it down from our cupped hands. I was so thirsty I am certain I drank a gallon!

And for the moment we were content. Our tummies were replete. We were once again ready for some serious play, except …

… maybe we were just a little too full?

And in no time at all our stomachs were in expanding agony. We fell to the ground and wreathed in pain. My aunt found us there, wiggling and moaning like macabre earthworms. She ordered us to come inside to dinner.

Between our moaning and wailing, we somehow managed to explain that we had eaten far too many oats and were in mortal peril. She asked us when we had eaten the oats. We told her it had been shortly after we’d arrived. She glanced at her watch and ordered us all into the house.

Once inside we were each given a huge spoonful of some nasty medicine that made us belch tremendously, and of course reduced us to fits of giggles. It also eased most of the pain in our stomachs.

Aunt ordered us to the dinner table.

That raised another chorus of protests. We did not want food. She remained unmoved by our pleas and served us each a small bowl of ham and bean soup and then stood watchover us to ensure we ate every bite.

Afterward she said none of this would have happened if we had come in at mealtime, and she hoped we’d learned our lesson.

We most certainly had. After that whenever we skipped meals we had enough sense not to eat more than a small handful of oats!


  1. ROFLMBO!!! You have the BEST childhood stories! I just LOVE them! I can not think of ONE single solitary childhood story to rival yours!

    Guess what? Dennis said last night that me driving cross country with mom next summer is probably do-able! AMAZING! Can you BELIEVE it???
    .-= Melli´s last blog ..Bowling… =-.

  2. I love those names! LOL The more grown-ups try to teach kids, the faster kids learn a new work-around *sigh*.

    BTW, I notice you got rid of your Honolulu weather gal rather quickly! 45F isn’t too bad.

    1. Susan — so far the Honolulu weather isn’t something I miss. Today we had blue skies and dazzling sunshine.

      And kids will always out maneuver adults until adults remember how to think like kids!

  3. Your aunt sounds like one of mine and my grandmother! Very strict, very little sympathy. No funny stories, though. 🙂 I’m probably way too soft, though — I’d give them something to eat with a little “lesson” besides, when they probably would have learned the lesson better by going without one meal. Going without two is probably too much, though.

    I wonder what the medicine was. I don’t think they made Gas-X back then. 🙂
    .-= Barbara H.´s last blog ..Can you get any more random than dog breath, basketball, and spam casserole? =-.

    1. Barbara — I doubt it was Gas-X, and since I was treated with veterinary medicines on more than one occasion, it is probably better I don’t know!

  4. We tend not to eat at the same time, so if someone is hungry and the meal is not fixed yet, he or she just helps themselves to snacks. I think that aunt of yours was too rigid. When raising kids, flexibility is better. Better than starving them!
    .-= gigi-hawaii´s last blog ..Tivoli =-.

  5. What did you all get castor oil? You know these days I doubt seriously that an aunt would treat her kids like that.

    Aunt: I am not running a restaurant

    Kid: 911 my Aunt isn’t feeding us. I think this is child abuse

    Ah the joys of cell phones now days. 🙂
    .-= Thom´s last blog ..TP4WW House Cleaning and a Birthday =-.

  6. Cute story. It reminded me of my Aunt’s story of trying to get there terribly thin horse to gain weight so they fed it three times its usual oats. It bloated and got so sick it fell on its knees. My grandfather was so mad.
    .-= Dr. John´s last blog ..Raven’s Challenge 95 =-.

  7. Oh, your poor tummies!!
    My kids have missed meals, but they have never tried to eat the raw oats. However, I’ve snitched a little too much oatmeal cookie dough before and had a tummy ache… raw oats might be the reason! I’ve also made “mountain bars” with old-fashioned oats instead of “quick oats” and that might explain the not-so-festive noises that comes from those who eat more than one or two at a time.
    .-= kcinnova´s last blog ..Gotcha! =-.

  8. Cruel story, lol ! I wouldn’t have mind to skip breakfast because I am not hungry in the morning and the idea of cooking something in the morning makes me almost sick ! Now that we are only the two of us we only have coffee in the morning and then a brunch around 11.30. The main meal is always in the evening.
    .-= Gattina´s last blog .. =-.

    1. Gattina — skipping breakfast is easier for me than eating it, but I eat it because the doc and the diet books say I must. I just had toast and a half of a pear.

    1. Nope, Jenn — I had plenty of other things to do but I sat down in yesterday’s sunbeam ansd wrote this story for all of you instead. I’m glad you enjoyed!

  9. what a cute bittersweet story. kids should be allowed to learn their lessons the hard way without a real threat to their life or health
    .-= polona´s last blog ....\. =-.

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