In Her Shell
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
  Why I Dislike Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
When I was small I was watched during the day by an overbearing Dutch woman. When she spoke, she BELLOWED. Good-hearted and well-intentioned, she was also terrifying.

The worst of the traditions at her home, which functioned as a daycare center, was the poop lineup. If she suspected that one of her young charges had had an "accident," she would line us all up and go down the line, smelling everyone's butt. The guilty party would then be led away in shame--a miniature perp walk, or poop walk, as it were. The experience was mortifying, though I was never the culprit.

Another common occurance was her scrutiny of our eating habits. Always a relisher of my food, I recall being chastised as I nibbled delicately on the Twinkie we had each received as a treat. "WHAT, YOU DON'T LIKE IT? MAYBE I SHOULD TAKE AWAY?" I took my Twinkie and hid in the closet.

"The Farmer in the Dell" was a popular game there, and I was the cheese, more than once.

My mother tells a story I had forgotten, about the day my parents' car broke down and it was several hours before they could pick me up. When she finally arrived, the house was full of the warm smells of dinner, the family was seated around the table, eating, and I was sitting in the next room, my little legs dangling over the edge of the couch, having been told to wait there. Clearly my mother was more traumatized by this incident than I was.

And every day, every day, for snack, we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

A few years ago I was the maid of honor in my old babysitter's son's wedding. It was a marvelous time, until he told her that I had been afraid of her in the old days. When she bellowed up to me to verify this, I immediately felt a little of the old panic, until I realized that I was three inches taller than she was, and she was smiling. I had to laugh, and admit to her the truth.
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