Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday--Tuesdays with Ande

This past Friday we went to BYU-Idaho to spend the weekend with Ande. Ande is in her last semester there and this summer she reminded us that we had never come to see her at college “just because.” She was right. We hadn’t. I’d gone to spend Mother’s Week with her, but not “just because.” We’d stopped to pick her up on our way to somewhere else, but never “just because.” In fact, her dad had never even seen the campus – he’d only seen a few restaurants where he’d taken her to dinner and her apartments when dropping her off or picking her up. So this weekend we corrected that oversight and went to see her just because . . .

When Ande was a baby she crawled with her head down on the ground. It was the funniest thing. She looked like a bulldozer with the bucket down. Her chubby arms and legs were in forward motion and her forehead was pressed against the floor. She crawled fast until she bumped into the couch, table, or chair and then would raise her head, pull herself up on the obstacle, and look around to see if she was where she meant to be. If she was where she intended, she walked along the couch until she reached what she’d come for. If she wasn’t, she dropped, put her head down again, and crawled somewhere new.

Ande is not so different now as when she was a crawling baby. When she decides she wants something, she puts her head down and goes and goes until she gets there. When she’s arrived, she climbs up, looks around to see if she’s where she really wants to be and then makes her move from there. It was fun to be with her this weekend and “walk along the couch” with her. She’s studied and succeeded, learned and lived, stretched and grown . . . and we’re very proud of her. It was great to see that she has almost reached what she went there for.

Ande recently won an award at the school for this essay (which premiered as a blog post.  Who said blogs can’t be considered art?).   I think you (or your kids) will identify with it.

The CapriSun® Complex

I unwillingly carried a brown sack lunch in my school bag for twelve consecutive years.

In elementary school we all sat in the same spot everyday at the lunch table. The boy who sat across from me, Corbin, ate Lunchables® every day. He didn’t eat the block of cheese and would nibble the chocolate off his Reeses®before getting to the peanut butter core. The boy sitting next to him, Alex, sucked pudding through a hole poked through the top of his Snack Pack®. Kelsy with a “y” got “hot lunch” and I envied her processed chicken nuggets and fake mashed potatoes. Kelsey with an “e” had a yellow insulated lunch box from Old Navy. Krista had CapriSuns®.

I had thick slices of dry homemade bread with Flavorite® peanut butter and homemade freezer-jam packed neatly in a baggie that didn’t even have a zipper. It folded.

I learned early on to let my sandwiches get smashed. This let the dry bread soak up the jam so I could get my sandwich down without a CapriSun.

In more prosperous years my lunches had powdered Tang (bought in bulk) at the bottom of my thermos, waiting to be turned to liquid gold at the drinking fountain. That year it was just the drinking fountain.

Other kids had Go-Gurts. We often had homemade applesauce or pudding in Tupperware. Instead of plastic spoons we were given a spoon from the silverware drawer and told to bring it back. Nothing like having a spoon in your back pocket during recess.

There were days when I just couldn’t stand to eat yet another dry homemade sandwich. On those days I took one of three options: One, trade my sandwich. Two, return home with my sandwich (and get sent out with the same one the next day…only dryer), or three, throw my sandwich and its folded plastic bag away.

That year I began throwing my sandwich, and sometimes other parts of my lunch, away regularly. Sometimes I would skip eating at lunchtime and save my lunch until the bus ride home. Sometimes I would just skip eating all together and wait until I got home, leaving the brown sacks to pile up in my backpack until the sandwiches molded and carrots turned white and cracked. I threw them away in secret at home, burying the brown bags beneath the other garbage. I was embarrassed and sick of my lunches.

One morning my mom packed lunches for us kids and then packed herself a lunch for the six hour bus-ride she would take, alone, to the Seattle Temple and back.

I can still remember exactly what she had in her lunch that day.

Graham crackers spread with peanut butter and a few baby carrots.

That was all she felt our family could afford for her lunch that day.

My lunch had all the usuals.

I was throwing away my lunches or letting them collect mold and scatter crumbs in my backpack while my mother gave me all she had.

I was under the impression mothers sacrificing their own food for their children only occurred in foreign countries or those pathetic Christmas stories meant to make you realize how selfish you were for wanting presents.

I’d like to say that was the day I decided to never throw my lunches away again. It wasn’t. A clear vision of my sixth grade locker with weeks worth of brown sack lunches stuffed at the bottom comes to mind.

But I can say that brown bag lunches have accompanied me through years of side ponytails, awkward maturing years, and into high school. And they accompany me now. Lecture halls, study sessions, and long hours at the library have all felt the company of my brown sack lunches, while I feel their bulk in my bag resting on my hip. Rarely can I pull out a smashed PB&J, the bread now bought in uniform loaves, without thinking of home, of sacrifice, of hard years survived, of love, and of my mom.

And that is why I now love brown sack lunches. Because the lessons they have to offer are far more valuable than a CapriSun® could ever give.*

{*Here are the family’s comments when it was a blog post.

Ande: I still love Caprisuns®. The last couple times I have been grocery shopping with my Mom I have asked for CapriSuns®. She still won’t get them. Neither will my kids. And thankfully the “CapriSun® Complex” will continue.

Mom: OHHHHHHHHH ANDE! This made me laugh and laugh . . . and then I got to the part where it flipped and you made me look like a saint and it is completely unfounded and well, sufficeth me to say, I loved this and the memories you captured for all of us. (Those were terrible lunches, weren't they? But did you know they only cost 28 cents and that included the napkin?) Oh ho. How funny. Which reminds me. Remember when you were home (yes, I'm sure you do) and we were in Wal-Mart® and you told me how much you loved CapriSuns® and I "uh-huhed" and kept on pushing our cart to the flour aisle and you said, "No, mom, I don't think you understand. I REALLY love CapriSuns®. Could we get some?" And I told you they were a terrible waste of money and kept us focused on the next aisle? I GET IT NOW. I had no idea. Thanks for the funny post. You are a gifted writer. Mom

Cali: Oh Ande, I cannot even tell you how hard this made me laugh. It made miss those lunches (how on earth could a person miss them?) It made me want to eat a smashed DRY sandwich (even worse on the days when there wasn't any jam... just PB). It made me miss you. I love you. Thanks for that belly laugh (with a small snort) and the realization that even a horrible sack lunch eventually becomes funny (not funny at the time, though). Did mom still make you carry those in high school? I hope not. I just want to paint for you the picture of what THAT looked like for me. You drive with all your friends to Taco Bell. They all get a meal. You sit with them at the Taco Bell table. while they all have trays with Taco Bell food, you pull out your brown bag. Even worse still you pull a dry sandwich out of that brown bag. You look at the Taco Bell condiments counter and see if there's ANYTHING that could go on your sandwich or lube your throat. Only hot sauce. Hopefully your friends know the Heimlich. Cali

Abe: ande, ha ha. i hated those sandwiches with a passion. i don't think i ever ate more than half...no matter how hungry i was. i loved it when i was able to sucker somebody in to trading for mine. or the week when i got to help in the cafeteria at school so i could eat hot lunches. i always volunteered to help. the worst part was that i always got carrot sticks with them, and carrots aren't known to be super juicy. so after eating a dry sandwich, i would have to try and choke down carrots. i never ate more than half my carrots either. we always had pretty decent treats though. and we could always trade the fruit leather mom made for us. great blog post! i love you. abe}


lelly said...

Funny how different folks, from different familes, can have the same memories!

I carried lunch with me for 12 years, as well. And I threw away every single orange that was ever packed, because I didn't like to peel them.

Jill said...

I'm so glad she won an award for this because it's brilliant!

I never got any of the fun stuff in my lunches either. My kids get much better lunches than I did and yes, they get Capri Suns, but no lunchables (even though Whitney begs for them).

Ande Payne said...

Aw thanks Mom. I'm so glad you came to see me "just because". And thanks for posting my blog. It made me feel good. Thank you! I love you. I'm proud of you too.

Ande Payne said...

AND I LOVE TUESDAYS WITH ANDE!!! Cause Tuesdays with Ande means Tuesdays with Mom!

Barb said...

I totally remember that post. Awesome.

michelle said...

Wonderful post. I loved reading the comments, too. It's so fun to see the way you and your family laugh together.

I buy the 100% juice CapriSuns for my kids from Costco. I wonder if it's making up for never having those as a kid?

Kelsey and Jon Edwards said...

I didn't know this received an award either! I loved this blog. She described our lunch group so perfectly. We used to beg Corbin for some of that processed lunchable cheese, that was before he rolled it into a ball and stepped on it.

Lynn said...

As for the content of the essay-- it doesn't make me laugh at all. I remember all to clearly how hard those years were/are.

But congrats to Ande for the award-- beautifully written. Congrats to you, Jane, for never complaining.


Deanna/Mimi said...

I am impressed with Ande's ability to put down the words that certainly showed us a mental pictures what life was like for her with the brown sack lunches. Well done Ande! If it is any consolation I have never had a Capri-Sun in my life. Next time I go to the store I am going to have to try one. I have a feeling that Ande is very much like her gifted, wonderful mother. Congrats to both of you.

Tyler - Danielle - Emree said...

How fun! Every kid needs some one on one time with Mom and Dad. No matter how big we get. I love that post. When I read it it made me heart happy. Ande is one of my favorite people