Thursday, April 3, 2008

Memory Triggers

Colin wanted a PB&J sandwich for lunch today. Actually, what he asked for was a "jam sandwich"... because he is British.

So, I was making his sandwich and thinking about how he likes jam or jelly on his PB&J and Natalie never has. And that triggered a memory from years ago.

I had a friend who I had never met in person. We were pen-pals, the real pen-and-paper kind. She and her family lived a few hours away from us, and they were going to be in our area for some reason. So, we invited them over for supper so we could all meet.

They were "health food" eaters, and we were, too, but not quite to the extent that they were. So I struggled a bit figuring out what to feed them, finally deciding on a taco/burrito build-your-own buffet. I found miniature corn taco shells that I knew the kids would love, and I got plenty of whole wheat tortillas because I knew the mama would feel right about eating those. We had taco meat, cheese, veggies, salsa, sour cream, the whole nine yards.

I was stumped for dessert ideas, because I knew my friend didn't believe in using sugar, white flour, or eggs in her baking. I might have been able to pull off a cake or cookies with wheat flour and honey...but I couldn't get around the egg obstacle. She used some sort of soy flour egg replacer stuff that wasn't in my budget, particularly for a one-time use. I decided dessert was going to be fruit salad.

We had a great time with the family. The kids hit it off right away. My friend and I started off a bit awkwardly when I temporarily forgot her name as I was introducing the family to my husband, but they laughed it off and we got on with the meal.

Everyone loved the taco idea except for one of their toddler boys who balked at the whole concept. I offered him a peanut butter sandwich and his mother said he would love to have that. So I popped out to the kitchen and whipped him up a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread...making it exactly as I would have for Natalie: bread, very light skimcoat of butter, peanut butter of medium thickness, nothing else, cut in quarters.

The second bump in the road was the dessert. I handed around bowls of fruit salad and we adults got back to our conversation. From the kids' table across the room I heard a very distinct loud whisper, "Mom, why aren't we having REAL dessert?" Mom whispered back, "It's okay, eat your fruit, I have cake in the car you can have on the way home." I pretended not to hear any of this. :)

All in all, it was a very nice evening. The kids didn't whine to me about the lack of cake; they were well-behaved children. My pen-pal and I got to meet each other in person, our husbands found a few areas of common ground they could talk about. I blew it on the dessert, but I still don't know what I could have done differently given the restrictions.

As they were leaving the dad was carrying the little guy for whom I'd made the PB sandwich, and he asked him "Did you thank Beth for your peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" The little fellow glared at me over his dad's shoulder with what looked like hatred in his little eyes and mumbled something. "You're welcome, Sweetie!" I said, and got on with saying goodbye to the rest of the family. It occurred to me very briefly to wonder what I'd done to him to upset him, but I didn't think much of it. I'm not the sort of person other people's little children like a lot. I would make a lousy kindergarten teacher, and I'm okay with that. My own kids love me. Usually.

But after their van pulled out of the drive, it suddenly dawned on me what I had done! He had expected a proper PB&J and I had given him the jam-less version Natalie favored! He had had to choke that down, not been given any proper dessert afterward, and then was expected to be thankful!

I can only imagine the family's conversation in the car on the way home. Over cake.

If you come to my house and want a peanut butter sandwich, you might want to be real specific in how you ask for it. :)

1 comment:

monique said...

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