Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let's Do Lunch

Me (far right) and some of my siblings in our Blanding days
Homeschooling provides me with the opportunity to spend more time on a daily basis with our children. This in turn naturally opens up chances for me to share with them (OK... bore them with) experiences from my youth. This came up recently when I spent some time with Shayla. We got on the subject of field trips and it brought up this memory:

When I was in the third grade, I was quite self-sufficient. My mother had been sick for several years (hepatitis) and also had given birth to four of my younger siblings in a short span so she was usually exhausted. She was asleep in bed in the morning when I left for school and asleep on the couch when I came home. My Dad was working all week in another town and was only home on the weekends. I would get up and make myself oatmeal for breakfast. Since this was in the days before microwaves (I know--the Dark Ages!) and since I couldn't light the gas stove, I would put oatmeal in a bowl and pour milk on it if we had it. And water if we didn't. Yes, that's where I developed the taste for my favorite gourmet delight. I accomplished this by scooting a chair from place to place to reach the things I needed. Some mornings I also might need to change a diaper or fill a baby bottle for someone before I left for school. I didn't really know what time I was supposed to leave. I just got ready and went.

Due to these delays, I would get to school every day after everyone was seated in their desks doing a reading assignment. I didn't realize I was late and my teacher: Mr. Bayles, never said anything to me about being tardy. So I continued on like that through the school year.

Toward the end of the year, we were excited to learn that we were going on a field trip! This was in southern Utah (Blanding!) and we were going to go see some sheep get sheared somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. This would also give us the opportunity to enjoy the beauties of nature and have a picnic with the sack lunches we would be bringing.

The night before the field trip, I decided to pack my lunch. I don't think I even told my parents I needed a lunch or that I was going on a field trip for that matter. Like I said, I was self-sufficient. I found the bread bag empty except for two heels (you know--the end pieces) so I used those to make an apricot jam sandwich. We had a lot of apricot jam because we had A LOT of apricot trees. I placed the bread with the heels facing in so it looked like regular bread. We didn't have such luxuries as sandwich bags so I put the sandwich in the empty bread bag. I looked in the 'fridge for any other possible lunch items and found a plum. It was only slightly overripe so I decided it would do. A large grocery bag was all I could find to carry this lunch so I put my two items in there and went to bed.

The next morning I realized I needed to bring something to drink. I rummaged around in the cupboards and came up with a giant, heavy, stainless steel thermos. A relic from one of my Dad's old lunch boxes most likely. I filled it with water and put it in the grocery sack as well. Then I decided to throw in some Band-aids, a needle and thread and a jar of Mentholatum...just in case. (This part Shayla found hysterical: me carrying a giant grocery bag to school with random junk and only two --actually only ONE edible item in there!)

I got to school as they were boarding the buses. My teacher collected our lunches as we got on. I was happy to find out that I got to sit next to my best friend: Marcia Butt (Yes, that was really her name--and her dad was on the High Council, so when he spoke in church they introduced "Brother Butt". But let me just say, back in that time we didn't use that word, we only said 'bottom' or 'behind' or 'rump' or maybe 'hind-end'. So we didn't even know it was funny and at least when I knew her, no one made fun of her name--so you can stop laughing now and I'll get on with my story).

So off we went to the middle of nowhere. It was a long, hot dusty bus ride. When we all piled out of the bus, we gathered around a corral of sheep and watched them go from fluffy to flat. They ran around bleating in their coatless, naked state. Most of them had nicks and cuts from the sharp shears. I can't even tell you what it was we were supposed to learn from this experience. I mainly took away that it isn't very fun to be a sheep.

Then it was time for lunch. We were handed our lunches--funny, I didn't write my name on mine but my teacher knew exactly which one it was! By then the sun was beating down on our desert picnic spot and we all tried to find shade in the overhangs of rock formations. I sat with my classmates and saw them pull out various flavors of pop, Twinkies, little bags of chips, and nicely made sandwiches. They were trading around with each other. No one was interested in anything I had. I was a resilient child, it didn't bother me and I was glad to have the sandwich and I ate the less mushy parts of the plum. Unfortunately, the thermos had leaked and I only had a few swallows of water. The bag was wet but it dried in the hot sun and served me well the rest of the day holding my garbage and the "preparedness" items I had brought along.

After lunch we had a blast. We slid down the rocks and played in the sand. We chased after horned toads and the boys who caught them chased after us with them. Marcia tore her pants on the rocks--but I saved the day with my 'sewing kit'. All in all, it was a very enjoyable and memorable day.

At the end of the school year, I got my report card: Straight A's. A few absences. No tardies.

After school was out that summer, one day I saw my teacher, Mr. Bayles walking up to my house. In his hand was the giant, leaky thermos. I guess I left it on the bus and it got left in his classroom. It gave him a chance to visit with my Dad.
Mr. Bayles was also Brother Bayles, our Home Teacher. He knew my situation and didn't penalize me for something I couldn't help.

1 comment:

Shanna said...

That story makes me so sad. You always gave us the best lunches for our field trips! Thanks for becoming the mom you never had.