Nothing speaks kinder words to my soul than that of a good ol’ PB&J sandwich served with a cold glass of milk.
I’ve had a bit of a rough week so for lunch today I took comfort in this old school, lunch box special.
When I was little I ate this every day except it was always paired with a mini bag of Doritos. Every time I eat a PB&J I get a warm fuzzy feeling. I also immediately think of Scooby Doo because that’s probably what I was watching when I ate it.
I was pretty much parked in front of the TV for every meal except for dinner. I can still remember the tan colored cable box that sat on top of the TV and the clicking noise it made as I found the right channel.
To this day every time I peel an orange and get that first whiff of citrus I immediately think of afternoons sitting next to my mom watching Little House on the Prairie. My mom would sit with a dish towel in her lap to hold the discarded peel. She taught me to scrape the white pith with my teeth because she said it was good for me. It doesn’t really taste like anything but I still do it out of habit. In those days we would snuggle and eat our oranges while we watched Laura Ingalls punch Nellie Oleson in her big fat mean nose… she deserved it.
In the mornings before my dad left for work he would leave a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios sitting in the fridge with a mini cup of milk sitting next to it. Every day I woke up before my mom did and I felt so proud every time I poured the milk over my cereal all by myself.
I would then march into the living room sloshing cereal everywhere to plant myself in front of the TV just in time to catch the Smurfs. I still have the theme song ingrained in my brain. I’ll probably be caught singing it as I wonder the halls of the assisted living arrangement I find myself in when I’m 90 and the young nurses will have no idea what I’m lala lalala laing about.
In 1985 my mom was about to give birth to my little sister and every night during dinner time I would ask if it was Thursday because that was the night the Cosby Show came on. One time my dad went out of town for business and my mom heated up frozen mini egg rolls that were square shaped. I had never had them before and was thrilled when we ate them in the living room while we watched the Cosby kids. Every time I see an episode I remember biting the corners off of those egg rolls and then dipping them in ketchup. We only did this once so I have no idea why this always pops in my head.
I have a million memories centered around TV and food.
Food and TV… the cause of the childhood obesity epidemic.
Only, I was a slender kid. The only time I really watched TV was when I was eating a meal because that was pretty much the only time I was indoors.
I wouldn’t change anything about those childhood memories. At the same time I think about the mark I will one day leave on my children and I acknowledge the role food plays in our culture. The tides are changing and we are more aware of the need to transition to whole healthy unprocessed foods. But every now and then a little PB&J sandwich paired with a mini bag of Doritos won’t hurt.
My hope is for my children to have the same types of memories but have them mostly centered on healthier habits like playing in the park, going to farmer’s markets and tending our own garden.
Gone are the days when you can kick a kid outside and lock the door until lunch time. But this doesn’t mean that kids are doomed for indoor mediocrity. It just means as parents we’re required to take the time to get outside and play too.
Then maybe… just maybe, one day when they grow up they will look back at their childhood and remember the things that I did right instead of the things that I did wrong.
When that day comes they can simply bite into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and remember just how much they were loved.