Of all my children, my oldest step-son loved peanut butter the most. At seven-years-old he loved it in a sandwich, on celery and smeared over pancakes, waffles and French toast.
I blessed the inventor of cheap peanut butter sandwiches and quick celery snacks.
I objected loud and clear to anyone eating pancakes, waffles and French toast with gooey peanut butter spread over them instead of sticky syrup. He was in that charming stage of childhood where the only food to eat is peanut butter. He could not see why I objected.
I was in the early stages of adulthood and exploring food from various ethnic groups with new recipes every few days. I could not see why peanut butter was all he wanted to eat.
In spite of his protests, his love for peanut butter stuck longer than with any other child I had. I bit my tongue a lot, but not enough.
I told other mothers about his obsession with peanut butter. They told me that their children loved peanut butter on apples, between parts of split banana and with raisins. Someone, I refuse to remember who, said they actually liked a good peanut butter and banana sandwich.
One day when I was weeding our garden, my next door neighbor, Elizabeth, a grandmother came out to pick lettuce in her garden. We visited a bit. I commented on the seven-year-old’s obsession with peanut butter. She laughed. She had seen plenty of her own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren go through the same phase.
“You know,” she sad, “every so often even Aaron likes to take fresh leaf lettuce from the garden, spread a slice of bread with salad dressing and another slice with peanut butter and put leaf lettuce between.”
I shook my head in disbelief. Aaron was her 72-year-old husband. “I thought it was such a strange things to eat,” she continued, “but I tried it one time and was surprised that I liked it.”
I looked at her incredulously. Peanut butter, mayonnaise and leaf lettuce? It did not sound very appetizing to me. But a few days later, I wanted something different to eat. I made a trip out to our garden, grabbed a handful of lettuce, washed it off and tried her sample recipe. It actually wasn’t too bad.
I sat back and reconsidered my position from the wisdom of my whole 20-odd years. I surely had never had any major food obsessions like m step-son, except of course my seventh year when I ate a lot of toast with catsup.
I decided it was time for a truce.
As we approached his birthday, I went to the grocery store and bought two five-pound jars of peanut butter. One I put on the shelf for family use. The other I wrapped up and gave to him for his birthday.
“It’s yours. Do with it as you please. I will say no more.”
He grinned, grabbed a waffle and smothered the thing.
After his jar was empty, I even put a jar of peanut butter on the table myself when we had pancakes, waffles or French toast for breakfast.