By Doug Woodall
I hated my mom’s egg sandwiches. When I found one in my lunch sack, I left it where it was. On my way home, I stopped at the back fence and hid it in the bushes. By doing this, I know I loved my mom. How could something my mom made for me — something I hated — show me that I loved my mom?
To understand what I’m saying, you need to know I was a troublemaker at school. All my shenanigans started with two thoughts I had about my first-grade teacher. One day, I looked at her and said to myself, “What makes her think she can tell me what to do?” Then I said to myself, “I didn’t sign up for this.”
I didn’t cause any problems in first grade. I waited until I was in second grade. One day, the first recess ended and everyone lined up at the door to wait for our teacher to escort us to our classroom. While we waited, a boy who kept irritating me that morning butted in front of me. I told him to go to the back of the line. He refused. I said, “If you don’t go to the back of the line, I’m going home.” The boy didn’t budge, and I headed for the back gate. My teacher called my name and told me to come back over and over again, until I was through the gate and out of her sight.
One time when all the sixth-grade classes were at recess, I got a friend to go with me to one of the fifth-grade classes to knock on the window and run away. We kept this up until the teacher came out and confronted us. She told us we had to go into her class and apologize. I told her I couldn’t do that because I wasn’t sorry. She wanted to know who was my teacher. Without flinching, I pointed to my teacher and said, “She’s right there.” My teacher told me I had to go into the class to apologize or she’d take me to the office and call my mother. I said, “Call my mom.”
Between leaving school to go home in the second grade and knocking on the window of a fifth-grade classroom, I broke many rules and committed some crimes. I’ll admit to every one. Also, I was accused of doing some things I didn’t do. I did not start the fire in the third-grade boys’ restroom. I’d like to tell you more of my stories, but now it’s time to tell you how getting in trouble at school and hiding my mom’s egg sandwiches in the bushes had shown me I loved my mom.
When I talk about my mom’s egg sandwiches, I’m not talking about egg salad. Instead, my mom took two slices of bread, slathered each slice with mayo, and slapped on an over-hard egg. She made lunches about seven in the morning. Before I opened my lunch sack at noon, I could smell my egg sandwich. Since I never ate one, I can only imagine what it felt like to bite into a cold egg covered in mayo, chew it, and get it to slide down my throat. Just imagining it makes me feel a little sick.
As I told you, when I found I had an egg sandwich, I left it in the sack. Because all my sack lunches included something in Tupperware or another reusable container, I couldn’t throw my sack away. So, on my way home, I stopped at the back fence, which separated the schoolyard from a church, got on my knees, and pushed my sandwich into the bushes that were on the church’s side.
I couldn’t take my sandwich home. I couldn’t tell my mom not to make me egg sandwiches. Why? Because I thought it’d hurt her feelings, and I couldn’t do that.
In second grade, I could cut the line and go home. When I walked through the door, I had no problem telling my mom, “I’ve had it. I’m never going to school, again.” At least, I didn’t go back to school that day. In sixth grade, I could follow my teacher to the office, listen to her tell my mom what I did and how I wouldn’t apologize, and take the phone to talk to my mom without my heart rate increasing by one beat. The one thing I couldn’t do was hurt my mom’s feelings.
You might say my shenanigans must have upset my mom. I can see that now, but I couldn’t see that when I was in school. To my way of thinking, my shenanigans were directed at other students, at my teacher, or at the school system. They weren’t directed at my mom; therefore, I wasn’t hurting her.
Not eating my mom’s egg sandwiches or having her find out I didn’t eat them was different. That would have been a direct attack. I couldn’t even tell my mom not to make egg sandwiches for me.
Now you know how my mom’s egg sandwiches tell me I loved my mom.
Gay Writes is a DiverseCity Series writing group, a program of SLCC’s Community Writing Center. The group meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 6:30-8pm, 210 E. 400 South, Ste. 8, Salt Lake.