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Mushy Bananas

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I was trying to hold back the tears, but as always, failing miserably. As my breaths got shorter and shorter, I tried to spit out the words as nicely and as articulately as I could. “What’s the matter, bunny? Are you worried about your spelling test tomorrow? You’ll do great, I know you will! You got all of the words right when we practiced them earlier, even ‘library,’ the bonus word, you figured out all by yourself! If you want, we can even review the words a little more when I come in as lunch monitor tomorrow.” I looked at her sweet, genuine smile as her tender hands stroked my back and tried to soothe its shaking. Her generosity made me sob harder. I could not hurt this woman.

“Mm…om...it’s…” as I choked on my own words, “I… it’s just… that I…don’t want you to be lunch monitor.” I quickly tried to explain myself, so as to save her from even seconds of disappointment. “It’s not because I don’t love you, you know that I love you more than absolutely anything in the whole world! Its actually because I love you so so much.” I continued to bawl and she looked at me with her affectionate gaze, trying to figure out what I meant. “It’s just that, the kids, Mom, the kids in my first grade class are wild. They misbehave, they yell during lunch and they play with their food and they trade their lunches and they eat their dessert first and they move their desks and they are messy and-” she endearingly interjected my blubbering, ”Em, I’m sure I’ll be able to handle it.”

“No, Mom, you don’t understand! I don’t want these kids to be bad for you! I don’t want you to have to handle that. They shouldn’t disobey a grown up, especially you, the nicest mommy ever. “

Lunch had to be done the right way. Not just behavior wise, but I had a process that I followed to a tee. I did not understand immature six year olds, and I would not succumb to their level by partaking in their silliness. Lunchtime was a precise operation. Everyone used to trade pieces of his or her lunches. Everyone that is, except for me. How could I possibly give someone else a piece of a meal that my mom had prepared specifically for me? It wasn’t like she slapped together my lunch every day in the midst of preparing three other lunches and getting the kids out of the door. No, I knew that every item in my lunch was put there with careful thought and love. Even the slimy deli turkey that I loathed and my siblings loved with the rubbery edges like that sticky stuff on the back of a new credit card. And the bananas with the brown spots that looked like they had been beaten up badly in a fight. No matter what, these bananas unfailingly appeared in my lunch, day in, and day out. I could never bring myself to tell her that they made me want to vomit.
While my mom and I were separated during the six hours of school, I imagined her imagining me eating my lunch and going through my classes. How could I disrupt her picture of me? What would she think if someone else was eating the peanut butter and jelly that she made for me? Or if she saw me eating a cookie that somebody else’s mom packed? That couldn’t do. I thought most logically, that she would envision me eating my sandwich first, the main course with the most substance. Naturally, fruit, the healthy side dish would come next, and finally, dessert. This is the way I trained myself to eat my lunch. The discipline in my routine was that of a trained Marine Corps officer. Not hungry for fruit? No dessert! I struggled day after day to get through my banana. For whatever reason, no matter what state the banana was in when I left the house, brown spots always managed to find it by lunchtime. I couldn’t dare look at them, because if I was reminded of their presence, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach it. Even though I averted my eyes, it was not good enough to avoid the daily banana. Whiffs of its stench always found their way to my nose. The thing about bananas is that when you put one in a brown paper bag, subsequently just about everything else in the sack smells like bananas too. I always had to eat these smelly bananas while holding my breath and not looking at them. I’m sure I was quite the spectacle, but that didn’t matter; it was the routine.

“What’s the matter, bunny?” She said, with her sweet genuine smile, as she stuffed a bag of grapes into a brown paper bag. “Nothing Mom, just tired,” I said as I grabbed the keys out of the drawer. “Are you worried for your Bio test? I know you’ll do great. You studied for a long time last night.”
“No, just tired and a little out.”
“Well, just kept your head held high; you know it isn’t always going to be easy.” She looked at me teasingly and said, “A lot of times you have to eat the mushy banana before you can get to the dessert.”





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