No use crying over warmed milk

Remember when a friend called me “the gay Erma Bombeck” and it made me enter a writing contest? Well, some good writers and actual newspaper columnists won it. You can read their stories, but you have to read my contest entry first. Because what exactly are you here for?  (Links to winners at bottom)


The difference between a good day and a bad day at our house boils down to one drink: Warm milk.

On weekday mornings at 7 a.m. the business of getting to work and getting to daycare starts. The whistle blows and the workers -– a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old — rise from their beds and come downstairs in their pajamas. The management team, on the other hand, has been up since before sunrise.

“Can I have some milk?” says Wynn.

“Me, too,” says Marlo.

“What is the magic word?” I say.

“Please,” they chorus, lying down on the sofa and sticking their thumbs in their mouths. They’re already on break.

For more than four years and multiple times a day, it has been management’s job to provide warm milk. It’s part of the labor contract – one that was struck, incidentally, when I was in labor.

First, warm milk was provided with the help of two mammary glands. And then, to make weaning easier, I warmed up the baby formula and, eventually, the cow’s milk.

When Wynn turned 4, the management decided that this was enough. Our daughter was old enough to drink cold milk. And so, holding our breath, we gave it a try.

The result? A strike.

Placards were made. Flyers were distributed. Threats were issued: She would never go to bed. She would not put on pants. And taking a bath or brushing her hair? Forget it.

We broke, almost immediately, and began negotiations. Eventually, we settled on room temperature milk. According to the contract, room temperature milk would go from the fridge to be warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds prior to being served – 50% less time than warm milk.

This seemed to work for a few months and then it got colder outside. And management’s willpower grew weaker.

One day, as a special treat, I added 15 seconds to the warming time, making it 45 seconds total.

“Mmmmm,” said Wynn. “It’s warm.”

Later that night and just before bedtime, I went back to making room temperature milk. But the fragile balance had been upset and Wynn demanded warm milk.

Management held an emergency meeting and considered their options. What was more important: Children wearing clothing, practicing good hygiene and getting enough sleep or 15 seconds in the microwave?

It was a difficult decision because we didn’t wanted spoiled children or anarchy. The negotiations lasted late into the evening or at least until 10 minutes past bedtime. And warm milk won.

Everyone went to bed, wearing pants, and got a good night’s sleep.

And the next morning I asked “Do you want some milk?”

“I’ll have juice,” said Wynn. “Warm.”


Here are the winners of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

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© Sarah Ann Gilbert and Seven Little Mexicans, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah Ann Gilbert and Seven Little Mexicans with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 thoughts on “No use crying over warmed milk

  1. Oh, great. One more thing to put up my defenses against…the warming of beverages. You could have it worse, though; I have a nephew who demanded ‘treat milk’ for years…warmed w/vanilla & maybe some sweetener added. Of course, he also grew up in a household where the word ‘treat’ had lost all meaning b/c they happen so regularly.

    • Wow! And yes, one can always have it worse, I suppose. There are two lessons here for me: 1) One can create a power struggle over anything if one is so inclined and 2) Giving an inch… will mean giving an inch every single time… especially with kids.

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