“I don’t want any more of my ice cream,” says our little guy, pushing his dish away.

I smile inside, thinking: what a smart, self-regulating young man we’ve got going on here. (This one. His brother, still at Grandma and Papa’s, licks the bowl and then asks for more. Every. Time.)

Then he explains why he isn’t going to finish his Phish Food: He had Lucky Charms—and a donut—for breakfast. My teeth suddenly feel filmy. My mind flashes to snippets of all the peer-reviewed journal articles I’ve read in the last 15 years, the studies suggesting that sugar is rotting our kids’ teeth, their bodies, their brains.

As a kid, I was not allowed to have Lucky Charms for breakfast. Or Sugar Smacks. Or even Honey Nut Cheerios. At the Micco household, the breakfast cereal choices were limited to four options: regular Cheerios, Chex, Rice Krispies, and Kix (Kid Tested, Mother Approved indeed). I’m pretty sure my husband wasn’t offered cereal-candy for breakfast, either. But his mom is a Grandma now (a good, fun, loving one, I should add)—and when her grandkids say they are hungry for breakfast, sometimes Lucky Charms are on the table. And, really, what kid can resist?

Much as it makes my nutrition-degreed self crazy to think of consuming such a product for a proper meal (dessert, offered in an appropriate context, is an entirely different story), I’ve accepted that my in-laws consider “spoiling kids” (their words, not mine) with sugary treats at all hours of the day a bona fide responsibility in their grandparent job description. It’s fine. It’s occasional. It’s all good.

I say this… but at some point I must have projected my knee-jerk discomfort with the sort of diet the boys consume while visiting their grandparents. This is obvious because he delivers this breakfast report in sing-song. The kid is taunting me. The cereal-and-pastry confession is followed with this: “… and Grandma and Papa let us stay up so, so late… like till 9 o’clock.”

I don’t react. I see what’s going on here.

“… past 9 o’clock. Till 10 o’clock.”

I maintain a normal face. A smiley one.

“No, no! Past 10 o’clock. They let us stay up till 11 o’clock!”

He’s searching, waiting for a reaction. Jackpot. Jon and I are both cracking up. But mostly we’re impressed that our five-year-old seems to have developed a pretty solid understanding of time. Which flies far too quickly to be concerned with quarterly sugary cereal splurges.