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The great Kansas frake crisis

July 16, 2008

At 10:30 pm in July it’s still crushingly humid in Iola, Kansas. We just spent three days in this strange land where everything looks soft around the edges, diffused through sodden air that is stifling yet dreamy, to celebrate the 4th of July with Chris’ extended family.
His grandparents live just outside Iola in the tiny town of Neosho Falls on a farm complete with such novel things as silos and a soybean field. To this New Mexico girl, it’s all very interesting in an otherworldly sort of way. Fireflies dance over the cornfields at twilight. Sunflowers grow not in small garden patches but in 300-acre spreads, giving the horizon a yellow hue in a sea of green.
The penetrating green owes much to water, which translates, of course, into humidity. This makes me lethargic, somewhat cranky. Definitely brain dead.
So I was at a decided disadvantage when, on the night of the 5th just after we returned to our motel, Graysen announced:  “I hungry my belly. I wan’ frake ceryo from broccri store. Pritter peese?”
Chris and I both turned to him, befuddled, and said “What?”
Graysen is not naturally endowed with patience for taller and older people who can’t grok what he’s saying. He knows darn well what he means and finds it infuriating when we don’t.
So he tends to repeat himself.
“I wan’ frake ceryo from broccri store!” he said with more emphasis. The polite “pritter peese” fell away, as though vehemence alone would convey meaning.
We dissected his sentence, immediately filing “broccri store” under indecipherable and turning attention to “frake ceryo.”
We were introduced to the term “frake” that same morning, when Gray was told that the restaurant where we were dining didn’t have his first choice: “round circle ceryo.”
Mystery almost solved.
“You want flake cereal?” I asked, hopeful.
His little face brightened.
“From broccri store,” he added, because I am dense.
“From broccri store!” I repeated, smiling, trying to look less confused than I was.
“Yeah!” he did a little happy dance finished off with a karate kick.
Chris and I exchanged quizzical looks. We didn’t know what the broccri store was but we did know where to get flake cereal and the accoutrements: the 24-hour Wal-Mart.
This was just down the street from the grocery store that has what I can only understand to be an anti-tractor contraption overhanging the entrance to the parking lot. You cannot drive your combine to the grocery store in Iola. You could, however, park it at the Wal-Mart if you so desire.
As we pulled away from the motel Graysen was all smiles and happiness until … we began to turn on the main street.
“NO!” he protested. He pointed behind him, kicked his little legs, gestured at things we are apparently driving away from … then put his hands over his eyes and cried in defeat.
I glanced back and, it hit me.
The restaurant attached to the motel is called The Greenery, and there is a very broccoli-like tree on the sign. Duh.
The boy who was craving a good helping of frakes before bed was despondent when we told him that the broccri store was closed for the night. Being apparently convinced that it was the only place in Kansas where one could hope to obtain frakes, he mourned — loudly — as we drove away. I coaxed him along, encouraged him to be patient and marveled at my little spitfire with the incredibly short fuse.
Graysen is easily fixated —  the epitome of a broken record. Until he can take a deep breath and calm down, he’s unable to do much aside from repeat himself. Thus, our (thankfully short) drive to Wal-Mart was accompanied by his continual plea to return to the broccri store, come hell, high water or locked doors.
And why didn’t we adults get it?
Obviously, the humidity had so addled our brains that instead of whipping out our handy-dandy set of broccri store break-in tools, we concluded that other methods of frake acquisition were in order.
Silly us.
But truly, in my attempts to really sell him on the idea that frakes can be found elsewhere, I broke every single natural mothering affirmation I have ever made or believed in as we stood in the Wal-Mart cereal aisle debating the merits of the various brands. I pointed out the miniature boxes—the kind that can be the bowl too (!) if slit along the perforation. I actually talked him into the very stuff I usually hide from his perceptive gaze. Aside from the fact that this colorful stuff is full of food additives, which have been known to make him insane, it’s also loaded with sugar.
Which has been known to make him insane.
But since Kansas made us all insane, each in our own special way, we bought several things we’d never purchase otherwise before heading back to the motel, colorful frake and  round circle ceryo in hand. Crisis averted.
Until we got back and found that we’d forgotten to get spoons ….

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