The Wrong Bowl

Four coloured bowls on a kitchen counter

Our four lovely cereal bowls on the kitchen counter (mine is the red bowl)

I’m rather prone to accidental crockery breakage. The consequence is that our kitchen cupboard is full of random mismatched half-sets. I pretend it’s a style choice. A year or so back, when we were down to two cereal bowls between four of us, I went to buy some replacement bowls. The rather lovely bowls you see above caught my eye in Matalan (for those of you in the US, Matalan is something like the clothing and homewares sections of Target).

I couldn’t decide which colour to go for, and then came up with the fabulous idea of getting four different colours, so that we could each have our own colour bowl. I was thrilled to bits. I arrived home and proudly showed them my purchase. Everyone agreed that they were indeed very lovely cereal bowls.

Right, I said, Who wants which colour? No fighting now!

They looked a little confused, and I’m pretty sure there were some sideways glances between them. Unperturbed, I turned to my son,Ok, well because your special plate when you were little was yellow, I thought you might like the yellow bowl? Yes?

Um, ok,” he said.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm, but carried on. I turned to Neil,I don’t know why, but I just thought of you for the green one, is that ok? I smiled broadly at him.

Fine with me! He said, clearly feigning some enthusiasm to please me.

Just two bowls left, who would end up with which one?Right, I said to my daughter, Do you want the purple one or the red one?

I really don’t mind mum. Ok, there were definitely some sideways glances now.

I ignored the glances. Well I really like the red one, I said, So if you don’t mind, I’ll have the red one, and you have the purple one?

Sure, whatever.”

I was a little perplexed by their reactions. I checked again that they all liked the bowls, and they assured me that they definitely did. Oh well.

The next day I caught Neil eating cereal in the red bowl. MY bowl.Oops! I said, You’ve accidentally got the wrong bowl! Yours is the green one, remember?

Oh, er, yes, sorry.”

Over the next several months, there were many more oopses from me, not just with Neil, with all three of them. Oops, you’ve taken the green bowl out, let me get you the yellow one…, Oops, the red bowl is in the washing-up, but I haven’t had any cereal, who was it?, Oops, yours is the purple one remember? I couldn’t understand it. How hard was it to remember a colour?!

And then one day, after a particularly harrowing morning of three bowl errors, it hit me…

Words saying NOBODY CARES

Nobody cares about the colour allocations! I sought my son out for confirmation, Tell me honestly, do any of you care about the bowl colour allocations?

He shook his head, No.”

Not at all?

Not the tiniest bit.” He hesitated, then took a deep breath, Why does it matter what colour one we use?

There, he had said it. Wow. They weren’t a bunch of numpties who couldn’t remember their colour. I was the numpty for thinking it mattered. I guess they didn’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me outright, so they left it for me to figure out. It just took me a really long time. I was so set on the idea that we each needed to have our own colour bowl that I hadn’t even considered there might be another way of doing it. A random way, where it doesn’t matter which one we use. I had to laugh at myself for being so slow to cotton on. And I’m now laughing at myself for suddenly realising that there is a life lesson in this post; I thought I was just writing about bowls.

I wonder why it might be that allocating colours mattered to me, but not to anyone else. I’ve always felt like my life is fairly chaotic, and I think I try to bring in little bits of order where I can to compensate, so maybe it’s that. Or maybe my head is still in the zone of thinking my kids are little, because I’m pretty sure you’d have a colour allocation with small children. Or maybe something else. Since that moment of revelation I’ve stopped trying to enforce the colour allocations with them, but I can’t get past it for myself. I still always feel a little disappointed when I see them eating out of the wrong bowl, especially if it’s the red bowl, because the red bowl is MY bowl damn it!

Next time I’m buying four bowls of the same colour.

I’m not convinced however that I’m alone here, so please help me by voting in the bowl poll below…


77 responses to “The Wrong Bowl

  1. Yes, as the family grows up the color thing doesn’t matter. Clean before color is the order if the day. Do elaborate “numpty” for this American girl–

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I break stuff alot too, so all my crockery is white, you do not want to know how many different ‘whites’ they make!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Bowl color doesn’t matter, as long as nobody reaches for my special yellow mug…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry, so you’re saying the bowls are colour coded to user? And yours is the red one … seriously? Sorry, my bad, I didn’t even realise they were different colours …

    Liked by 3 people

  5. No, I was listening, I just wasn’t processing …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I must admit I’ve experienced a similar level of crockery disinterest. I’m working on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d think crockery wasn’t important wouldn’t you!


      • This reminded me of an episode of Keeping Up Appearances when Hyacinth had her clumsy neighbor to tea, and the neighbor was so nervous to use Hyacinth’s family keepsake tea cups. Please don’t serve me using any crockery or porcelain or fine China or family heirlooms which are expensive or have sentimental value. I’m fine with paper plates and Dixie cups.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I think I’m a bit of a cross between Hyacinth and the clumsy neighbour, I aspire to be grand, but really I’m just a big klutz. Safest to give me the plastic cups. I had a situation when I was about 18 at my boyfriend’s grandmother’s house when she suddenly told me that I was drinking out of a glass that was 100 years old, I was so terrified of dropping it that I nearly dropped it!

          Liked by 2 people

  7. How dare they ignore the bowl colour rules! that’s tantamount to treason. Serious scary punishments must be invoked – such as forcing them to eat a bowl of cold congealing stew from a bowl that IS NOT THEIR BOWL….

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I can see how having a different color toothbrush would be important, but bowls? I’m on your family’s side on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Is there a specific reason that I must eat my bacon and eggs in a bowl?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. All the bowls end up in the man-cave down in the basement where my son lives. So it wouldn’t matter if we had allocations or not!

    But if anyone tries to drink out of my blue coffee mug with the sailboat on it, they are toast!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love the colored bowls, but know my family would react in the same way. Even if they chose a color, laziness wins out each morning and you pick the bowl that is on top. It’s too hard to lift the others up to get the yellow bowl or whatever on the bottom, so it’s not the color that matters with teens and adults, but the position it’s in in the cupboard. Maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ha, too funny. At my house we’ve barely evolved past tearing food apart with our fingers. We still growl on occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In general, I think people are just lazy and will take whichever bowl is on top rather than having to lift and pull out their assigned bowl. I think your efforts are worthy nonetheless. My kids are still young and they like have specific colors being their own. It’s also possible that they like a different color more than the one they were assigned. I’d be stealing Neil’s bowl all the time, even if I was stuck with yellow. But I totally understand being irritated if someone else had used my favorite one which was MINE! And the bowls are totally cute, btw. Well chosen.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I see, as of this moment, a third of the people are kissing-up by voting with Vanessa. I’m with the kids on this one… and I’m sure there were plenty of sideways glances as well as eye-rolls. They probably wouldn’t mind the color allocation, except that if their bowl is dirty, do you think they are going to wash it? No, they will grab the clean Red Bowl.


    • In fairness, one of the votes in support of me is from me! I tested the poll and then couldn’t work out how to reset it to remove my vote, so it may be less than a third of people kissing-up to me. The thing is, if everyone stuck to using their colour, then it would always be clean when they needed it because they only use it once a day, and the dishes are washed every day, so nobody would ever need to find their bowl in the dirty dishes at a time when they needed to use it. It’s a foolproof system if everyone follows the rules!


  15. As a bit of a Type A perfectionist (who me?), I totally support your color allocation. To do otherwise is pure caveman behavior, is it not? Oh well, you gave it your best. That’s all any of us evolved beings can do. Hehe.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I l.o.v.e. the idea of each having his or her own specific color. Do you suppose remembering is the hard part? 😀 😀 An interesting post, Vanessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Colour allocation sounds OK to me, Vanessa, until somebody’s friend pops in and uses a colour that couldn’t have been allocated to them – or worse still, MY bowl. You should have bought an extra guest bowl of a different colour, just in case! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m not completely sold on each family member having their own color. I’m sure my daughter and I would enforce it, but the two boys in the family would be like, “whatevs, dude.” They’d eat soup out of their hands if they could.

    But I’m DEFINITELY certain that I must start using the word “numpty” more in my daily life.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. We have ways of making you all obey the rules about where you sit and which bowl you use, sez she clicking her heels together etc.
    And you’re right – numpty is a very useful word!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. You’re too hard on yourself. Why don’t you just relax, have a nice bowl of cereal? Don’t take the blue bowl tho. That one’s mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Maybe you need two of each colour! Or 8 colors just to keep things interesting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m like Christie – all my crockery is white because I break a lot of things with these clumsy hands of mine! 😀 I voted that I could go either way, but I love Sue’s suggestion of getting a second bowl of each colour 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I really don’t care which one if they are all the same size, etc. I’d take purple because it’s my favorite color and everyone would let me have it because they know it’s my color.

    We have different bowls, not color but shapes and sizes. Everyone seems to have their own preference as to which one to use for the exact same meal. Though Rick’s mum will only use one specific soup bowl each time, even if it’s dirty…she’ll wash and dry it just so she can use THAT bowl even though there are others exactly the same size and shape as her bowl.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I voted for YOU and the colors and each one having his/her own bowl. Somehow, as I’ve gotten a bit, ahem, older, order and organization have become much more important. I’m laughing, though, because I could never do the ‘color bowl’ thing when my kids were young. Our son is color blind, and as it is, he used to say things like: ‘Nice brown dress, mom” when it was bright green. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I am a total bowl fanatic. None of my family gets it…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m with you, V! What are these creatures with whom you live? Do they suffer from crockery color blindness? I even have drinking glasses and tea mugs that are different colors. And Philip knows which colors are MINE. Not that I’m OCD or anything, but stay the ding-dong away from my colors!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. tea & other things

    I buy blue and white china. I am quite prone to breakages too so I make it seem like the mismatched blue & white is a style choice too. By the way, totally with you on the bowls. Last week I got out the red china (special occasions only – still mismatched but a better class of oddments) and then boyfriend out the blue wineglasses and not the red ones and couldn’t understand why I started yelling

    Liked by 1 person

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