Jim Kayes’ Blog: Sweet temptation

Jim is in a fizz over soft drinks. 

Words: Jim Kayes

The youngest is off fizzy drinks for the year and has lured me into following her. Not that it’s a big hardship for me as I’ve never been a fan apart from an occasional Coke.

Fizzy drinks seldom make it into our house so there’s little risk of being tempted. When my wife does buy a few cans of Coke, the purchase provokes a withering assessment from our daughter.

“Well, here’s a can of diabetes,” she says with a 13-year-old’s shrug of the shoulders that says we really should know better.

The eldest did a school science experiment a few years ago and teeth (donated by a dentist friend) were left in various liquids. One look at the state of the teeth soaking in Coke would put anyone off and (after parental intervention) it’s a good thing beer wasn’t on the list of tested liquids.

Somehow the youngest’s “no fizz” came to include me. It happened on a grocery shopping trip. I had failed at the first attempt (only getting about half of the items on the list before being ordered back, tail between my legs).

On the way, she declared she was going to avoid lollies and chocolate for the rest of the year and she dared me to match the effort.

“Yeah, sure,” I said in that tone most parents know well, which reflects the fact we’ve barely listened and are simply agreeing with the conversation because it’s easier.

“But you never eat lollies,” my daughter said, “so there’s no challenge in that.”

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And, coming to my senses, I admitted there was no chance I could survive the rest of the year without eating chocolate.

Earlier this year I went seven weeks without a beer, in part to lose weight (didn’t happen) but also just to show that I could. But chocolate is a step too far.

So we settled on chips (now this will be tough) and fizzy drink which I have strenuously argued does not include tonic (the stuff that goes with gin).

“But it fizzes Dad, so it’s fizzy drink,” my daughter stated.

“But it’s water,” was my perfectly sensible reply, which cued the eldest to poke her two cents in by claiming tonic water is the base ingredient for all fizzy drinks. I don’t know if that’s true but clearly learning when to butt out needs to be reinforced.

We settled (I believe) on the terms which also include a birthday and Christmas Day amnesty but a rider that whoever breaks first loses $50.

The youngest is the consummate financial wheeler-dealer and has been known to trade gift cards for cash and spots a bargain from a block of shops away.

She asked if I would take her clothes shopping. Shopping is one activity my wife and I know from past experiences we will never, or at the very least almost never, do together. It’s because we shop at a different pace.

I detest shopping that can’t be done with ruthless efficiency and know – as a fact – that browsing is for people who haven’t researched, don’t know what they want and can’t make up their minds.

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For some reason, this unshakable faith is at odds with my wife’s attitude to shopping but then she once went out to buy shoes and came home with a new dress. We set off for our local mall to buy some new pants and a couple of work shirts for me. While she parked the car I made a start. As she walked in I walked out with the new shirts and pants.

“How,” she asked, “could this be possible?” She was disgusted when told I had simply bought new versions of clothes I already have.

The youngest wanted a new sweatshirt and jeans and, with birthday money burning a hole in her pocket, she was on a mission. The sweatshirt wasn’t an issue, but the pants were confusing. They had to come with rips in them and some pairs, upon consideration, appeared to have more rips than cloth.

I argued the lack of sense in this especially as, I helpfully pointed out, the good jeans with no rips were actually a third of the price of the ripped jeans. Apparently, this simply reinforced a long-standing family belief.

“Dad,” she declared, “you really are being a nuisance. You were good with the sweatshirt but you just don’t understand fashion.”

She has a point. Now pass me the chips and chocolate.

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