Thursday, January 5, 2012

Marshmallow Surprise

Press play for the music that accompanies this post. Read and listen. Enjoy!

When I was in second grade, my family moved and I had to change schools.  Again, in the theme of ‘what were they thinking?’ the adults decided to have us change schools when there were only 2 weeks left in the year.  Even though our new house was only about a mile away.

I was an extremely shy child, so making new friends was not easy under the best of circumstances, much less at the end of a school year. Sometimes for lunch my mother would include fun snacks like marshmallows. 
What's not to like, here?
 Now, I think it’s because she had run out of ideas about what to put in there.  But at the time, being 8 years old, I thought marshmallows were a pretty cool thing to have in my lunch. 

My lunch-table mates agreed.  They wanted me to trade.  I didn’t want to.  I didn’t like my trade options. They wanted me to share.  I didn’t want to.  I only had 2 or 3 marshmallows.  I didn’t have enough to give away. A power struggle for control of my marshmallows ensued.

While I continued to insist that I was not going to trade or share, I figured my tormentors would give up.  I was wrong. Even though I was very strong-willed, so were they.  They did not give up.  Never underestimate the power of a marshmallow to motivate an 8 year old. They increased their badgering.  I was trying to be a good girl and eat my sandwich, first.  If I had just eaten the marshmallows, the power struggle would have been over.  That’s not what happened.

This is a picture of some random kids I got off the internet.  They are probably very nice boys and girls who share their marshmallows.
I changed tactics.  I capitulated. Sort of.  I told them they could have my marshmallows.  I also told them I had asthma and that my mother would frequently put my asthma medicine in marshmallows to make it easier to take.  Sort of like ‘A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down.’ They didn’t believe me. 

I continued to spin my web of lies.  I told them my mother was a nurse who told me that taking medicine you didn’t need could make you really sick and maybe even kill you. They were still not convinced.  They took my marshmallows. They ate them.  I got none. 

I continued to chip away at their certainty that my story was untrue.  I talked about the medicine all through the rest of lunch.  I started to see cracks. All through lunch recess, I kept pressing home the concept that other people’s medicine could make you sick and kill you.  I talked about having to get your stomach pumped.  I talked about how if you didn’t do it quickly enough, it would be too late. 

They started to believe me.  A Placebo Effect of sorts started to occur.  One of the kids started to say that she didn’t feel so good.  I focused my attention on her.  I told her she should go to the nurse, so that she wouldn’t die.  By then, I think they realized that they had ‘stolen’ my food and were not so willing to own up to their misdeed.  They were certain they were in the wrong. Neither one of them wanted to go to the nurse.

I continued to make them feel as if going to the nurse was urgent.  Like if they didn’t go, and RIGHT NOW, death was imminent.  I was 8.  And they had taken my marshmallows. Rue the day. Before lunch recess was over, they both took themselves off to see the school nurse.  Good. Evil girls. Serves you right.

I had not stopped to consider what would happen once they got to the nurse’s office.  The nurse was, of course, horrified that a child had taken someone else’s medicine. As an adult, I can imagine the fear that must have rippled through the adults in the school office.  Who is this child?  Oh, it’s that new family.  Do we have a phone number?  Call her mother! 

Because my story had been so convincing, and the girls were so scared, nobody stopped to question the truth of it. Unbeknownst to me, the nurse called home to speak to my mother. When the nurse got ahold of my mother, she relayed the story (my web of lies) that the girls had told her, and asked my mother just what the medicine was. 

What was my mother’s response to the nurse? 

She couldn’t talk because she was laughing so hard. Somehow, I don’t think the nurse appreciated that sort of a response.

I didn’t get in any specific trouble, but my new teacher was pretty mad. 
 When the girls came back into the classroom, the teacher turned off the lights, and had everyone put their heads on their desks.  She then hollered (and she really did yell) at the whole class about how people should not lie and some other stuff I don’t remember.  I am sure she mentioned something about how you shouldn’t bother people into giving something away, but all I remember is that I was being yelled at. In front of my new class.

I didn’t cry (remember, I was a very strong-willed child), but I didn’t say another word for the rest of the day. It was also a story that my family would torment me with for years afterwards.  And marshmallows have never tasted quite as good as they did before this incident. Also, I never did wind up becoming friends with those girls.  Ever.

But nobody else ever again asked me for something from my lunch.