I was ten—why on earth did she seem to think I’d want to eat rubber grapes? To me, the implication was that I went around indiscriminately vacuuming up objects into my mouth, like a giant goldfish, in case they might remotely resemble food. Worse than a goldfish, even, to inhale with such force that they would lodge in my windpipe.
Besides, this was in our formal dining room, which was not a place I associated with eating, anyway. It was for homework and jigsaw puzzles and class projects. But the main thing was, the grapes were rubber. They looked rubber. And even if they had looked that real, wouldn’t I have figured it out when I tried to pick one? And even if a rubber grape made it to my mouth, would I swallow it for lack of knowing what else to do with it?
So I was pretty insulted by that warning.
But then came the time I was grown and trying to germinate poisonous Morning Glory seeds in a little container in my kitchen. Being apparently more passive aggressive than my mother, I made a little Post It note that said, “Don’t eat! Poisonous seeds!” And I drew a little skull and crossbones for good measure. My daughter was then about twelve. She looked into the little cup at the brownish water with a few little black things floating in it, looked up at me, and said merely, “yum.”
She was right—they didn’t appear very appetizing. But still, I was a mother and couldn’t take any chances.
Then the other day I discovered a jar in the kitchen that looked like a science experiment. Both of my children are into science, so I wasn’t surprised. It was a jar of water with colorful chunks in it. Turned out she’d found some old “Magic Rocks” in the basement that she’d missed as a child, and she and her friends had mixed them up. Under the jar was a note: DO NOT DRINK GROWING ROCKS!
I am so proud.