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Kindergarten Peanut Butter and Jelly
I stood on my tiptoes to reach the fourth shelf. In front of the soups and beans sat the jar, three quarters of the way full. A clear plastic container, filled with gooey toffee-caramel colored peanut butter stared back at me, crowned with a red lid and wrapped in a green, blue, and red JIF label. The jar was heavy, and I could barely wrap my marker stained fingers around it. With both hands I carried it over to the counter, and set it down, just at my eye level. I unscrewed the ribbed lid and looked into the irresistible peanut butter. I stuck my pointer finger into the creamy peanut butter. It was smooth and cool to my touch.
Mommy never lets me stick my finger into the peanut butter when we make sandwiches. I thought, feeling sneaky and mischievous.
I licked the peanut butter off my finger, savoring the sweet, yet salty, nutty flavor. A thin layer coated the inside of my mouth and stuck to the top. Scraping the last of the peanut butter off my finger, I found the whole wheat bread on the bottom shelf of the cupboard.
I wish Mom would get white bread sometimes. I preferred the sticky, light white bread that my friends always had, to the brown whole wheat with flavorless crust. Underneath the English muffins, I reached in and carefully pulled out the loaf of whole wheat bread. Trying not to squish the bread, I put my hands underneath the loaf, carrying it like a library book, a fragile object that I must never drop. The clear bag crinkled as it was dropped carefully next to the peanut butter on the counter.
Licking the remaining peanut butter from the roof of my mouth, I yanked open the fridge. Cold air instantly blasted at me, and I hurried to find the jam. Its golden lid sparkled next to the dill relish and Dijon mustard, reminding me of when I had helped mom make it. The scent of fresh picked strawberries bubbling in the big blue pot flooded my mind. I picked up the cold jar with both hands, careful not to drop and shatter the jam all over the floor, like I had once done to the mayonnaise. Setting it down slowly on the counter, I shivered and rubbed my hands together.
SLAM! I shut the fridge door with all my strength. Pulling up a stool to the counter, I climbed on top and folded my knees underneath. One polka dotted sock and one monkey sock peeked out from my sky blue corduroys.
Unscrewing the peanut butter lid, I realized I forgot to get a knife. I hopped off the stool and pushed it out of the way of the silverware drawer. I picked a shiny silver butter knife for the peanut butter and a long-handled spoon for the jam. Stepping up onto the stool again, I untwisted the bread tie. Reaching in, past the end piece, I chose a soft piece of bread with a few hard seeds poking out. I shoved the knife into the swirled peanut butter and slathered a thick layer onto the slice of bread. It looked like small waves on a tiny beach.
I held the jar of jam in one hand, and tried to untwist the top. It wouldn’t budge.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. I remembered the little blue engine chugging up the mountain, like in the book my teacher read at school.
Finally, after lots of motivation, I unscrewed the outer rim and pried the sealed lid from the jar. Sticking the spoon into the jam, I ruined the smooth and perfect top. A large spoonful of strawberry jam plopped onto the waves of the peanut butter. I spread it around with the back of the shiny spoon, and soon had an ocean of peanut butter with red strawberry chunks floating on top.
I folded the bread in half, hot dog style, like we do in art. Jam oozed out all the edges, and I quickly licked the dripping jam. The pomegranate-red, slightly chunky jam filled my mouth with sweetness, while the creamy peanut butter coated my mouth with its saltiness.
Jumping off the stool again, I pried open the fridge, bumping it with my shoulder, so it would stay all the way open. I lifted the frigid gallon of milk, the cold white liquid sloshing around inside. My arm shook a little as I quickly set down the jug and slammed the fridge shut. I slid my stool over to the cupboard above the sink, and stood on top. Selecting the closest glass, I bent over to set it down on the counter, CLINK! Shutting the cupboard I hopped off the stool, my feet skidding slightly on the wooden floor. I unscrewed the green lid to the gallon of milk and gripped the handle. Steadying myself with one hand, I carefully poured myself a glass of creamy milk.
I perched on the stool to finish eating my masterpiece. But, before I could enjoy the squishy inside of the sandwich, I had to eat the crust. Quickly, I gnawed away the brown, tough crust, washed it down with a gulp of milk, and left the best for last.
At last, I bit into the soft bread. It felt like a balloon, except filled with peanut butter and jelly, instead of air. Thick and creamy peanut butter, accented with sweet strawberry jam filled my mouth once more. Even though I took small bites, my sandwich quickly disappeared. I savored the last bite slowly, extending the flavors as long as they would last.
“Clara?” My mom walked into the kitchen. “What are you doing?” She smiled and laughed.
“I was hungry and so I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!” I smiled, which showed all my teeth, proud of myself for making my own sandwich. Then I looked around the kitchen, and and for the first time, noticed the large mess I had made.
The knife laid on the floor smeared with peanut butter and bread crumbs sprinkled the counter and floor around my stool. The sticky jam lid and spoon stuck to the open bread bag. The opened gallon of milk sat warming in the sunbeams shining through the window. And there was peanut butter and jelly splattered everywhere.
“Ooops.” I said quietly.
“Were you trying to make your own peanut butter for your sandwich?!” Mom laughed and we remembered the catchy song we sometimes sang;
Peanut butter, peanut butter, jelly, jelly. Peanut butter, peanut butter, jelly, jelly. First you take the peanuts and you crush ‘em, crush ‘em. Then you take the grapes and you squish ‘em, squish ‘em.....
We sang the song and cleaned up the mess together. I twisted up the bread bag and screwed the peanut butter and jelly lids on, while mom wiped down the counter and floor. Licking my teeth, I got every last bit of peanut butter and jelly flavor out of my mouth. The last of my beautiful sandwich was gone.