My grown children have alerted their offspring: “Don’t eat anything from Nana’s fridge or cupboards without checking the ‘use by’ date.”

Alex, 12, took a bite of cheese and began spewing, running for the trash as he squawked, “Bad cheese. Bad cheese. I forgot to look at the date.”

Alex had never eaten extra sharp cheddar and the taste set him spinning. Happily, this cheese was still well within its safe date.

Who determines when a food is beyond it’s “safe date”?

I suspect it’s the same petite, finicky person who marks clothing “One size fits all.” Bless her heart.

Our young visitors now have me totally paranoid. Pulling out a new roll of toilet paper, I glanced to see if there were a date stamped on the package.

My mother kept Miracle Whip in the kitchen cabinet, not the refrigerator. She lived to 92, never having experienced food poisoning, as far as any of us can remember. Her four children continue alive and well. Of course, we grew up in daredevil, adventurous times before manufacturers were required to post warnings. Like most people of my vintage, we learned spoilage by swigging our share of sour milk.

When our older daughter recently banned her younger son from the internet, he complained loudly, “It’s not fair.” His angst was not humorous, although she and I both laughed on the phone when she told me about their disagreement.

“Those were once your most often repeated words,” I reminded, which set her giggling again.

“I know,” she sputtered. “It’s so funny to be on this side of the conversation. He’s using all the same arguments I used on you guys. He has no idea….”

As a teen, Katie (not her real name) had been a handful. Months before she turned 18, she lectured us often, reminding than when she was 18, we would no longer “be the boss of her”; that she would make her own decisions and we would have no say.

Husband and father, Bill, held silent through these lectures until one night when she caught him tired and out-of-sorts. “You’re right,” he agreed. “When you turn 18, you will no longer have to do what I say, AND I will no longer have to support you.”

That brought her up short. “You’ll have to pay for me to go to college, or have an apartment, if I decide to get a job instead.”

“No.” His voice was quiet. “If we continue supporting you, you will have to continue doing things our way, especially as long as you live under our roof.”

“Daddy, that’s not fair.”

When Alex tattled to her last weekend that the Ranch dressing in our fridge was three months out of date, he regarded her frowning, hands on his hips, anticipating the blow-up. Instead, she waved a hand and said, “Don’t worry about it.”

“You mean I should eat it?”

“Go ahead, if you want to. It won’t kill you.”

She called last week, laughing and grumbling. “I hate it when I hear your words come out of my mouth and it’s happening more and more often lately.”

I cannot tell you how happy this whole evolution of generations makes me.

If cold weather has you trapped inside, you might enjoy snuggling with one of my mostly cheerful novels. You can find them at: www.amazon.com/SharonErvin/e/B001JP4NV2

If you enjoy them, drop me a note. If not, well, remember that motherly advice: “If you can’t say something nice, it’s better not to say anything at all.”


About sharonervin

I write novels for and about women. I work half-days in my husband and son's law office. A former newspaper reporter, I have a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. I have four grown children.
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2 Responses to “USE BY” DATES

  1. Karl Scifres says:

    Loved it Sharom and it’s so true!

  2. Kiesewetter says:

    Ain’t motherhood grand when your kids are grown and history repeats itself?

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