Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Peanut Butter and Jelly and Bread, Oh Mice. . . .

I got home from class late tonight, around 9:30, and had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for supper. (We have less money than usual this week. Ouch.) As I looked at the containers, and the smeary knife, I was reminded of something I used to do in my old middle school classroom.

Every year I did the "Write out the directions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich" thing in each 8th grade class. On the due date, each writer would come forward and follow his own directions, read out loud by another student, and see if the end result was an actual sandwich. Usually, it wasn't. Any student who wished to eat his sandwich or the mess thereof was cordially invited to do so, and many of the students gladly ate up the evidence. We can't have anyone knowing we had fun learning how to follow directions, now could we?

After this assignment was over, I kept the big jars of peanut butter and jelly in my room, on a shelf beside my desk, hidden from view of the class, although everybody knew they were there. Every week, I brought in a fresh loaf of bread and put it there beside the peanut butter and jelly.

No, we weren't re-doing the assignment. I always tried to time that assignment so it was as near to the beginning of the school year as possible, so I could establish the food there on that shelf as early in the year as possible.

Every day, once word got out, a handful of students would come in at noon and ask permission to make a sandwich. These kids had no money, and their parents were too shiftless illiterate and drunk to come in and sign the paperwork that would give their children a free lunch.

Most of the students knew about the food stash; often, a kid who just plain forgot his/her lunch money or disliked the cafeteria menu for the day would come in and make a sandwich. No, it wasn't from the students that I kept the food hidden in the bookcase by my desk.

I was hiding it from the other teachers and from the principal, because 'food in the classroom' was expressly forbidden, and the other teachers in my building had an especial hate on for the kind of kid who frequented my classroom during the 'off' hours of lunchtime and after-school.

I was used to being in constant trouble at school for going all out for a kid, and frankly? There at the end of my public school career, I really didn't give a tinker's dam for rules that would prevent a child from having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

At the end of each week, a kid would always ask me if he could have the rest of the loaf of bread. Every Monday, I brought in a new loaf. I didn't want students to eat stale bread; I mean, would YOU want a sammich on stale bread? Ick. At the end of the school year, I gave away the jars. The kids thought it was the same jars all year, and actually, it was. I just scooped the new stuff out of new jars and refilled the old jars so they wouldn't know I was buying more. I kept the new jars hidden in my locked cabinet in the back of the room. They never knew. My students might have felt bad if they knew I was buying new stuff all the time.

I sincerely doubt that any of the teachers in that building read this blog; I don't think any of them know what a blog is. But I know for a fact that many of my former students read this blog, so listen up, kids: I'm going to share a secret with you.

I know why our floor had mice.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:50 AM | |


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