Here's how you know: When I set out to make 25 star-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this morning, it never once occurred to me that there might be more than one way to do it.
My ever-so-brilliant way was to first spread the peanut butter and jelly on the bread. Then I took a star-shaped cookie cutter and pressed it into the bread. The result? Three times out of five, the peanut butter and jelly squirted out of the sandwich, like lava from a little PB&J volcano.
I finally figured out if I chilled the sandwiches before I cut them with the cookie cutter, and if I spread very thin layers of peanut butter and jelly, the volcano action was lessened. Still, the stars came out squished and kind of, well, not so much like stars. More like starfish that had crawled out of the sea onto the roadway and immediately been run over. By a truck.
The good news is, first graders will eat anything (the ones who eat, anyway). They're cute as the dickens, but have a very unrefined aesthetic sense. Had I been the only contributor to the party (in honor of Kevin Henkes, by the way, author of the fabulous Lily's Purple, Plastic Purse and many, many other fine books) of peanut butter and jelly star-shaped sandwiches, I would have never had known that it is in fact possible to make a perfectly civilized looking one.
But no, another mom also made peanut and butter and jelly star-shaped sandwiches, and hers were not at all smushy-looking or unappealing. After examining them a few moments it hit me: She cut the bread first before spreading on the PB&J.
Of course, she's a former Supreme Court law clerk, so she's going to have the jump on the likes of me when it comes to, well, anything. But still. How could I have been so clueless? Of course you cut the bread out first. Of course.
Well, bless the little children for eating my stars anyway. Bless them for sometimes reaching over the other PB&J stars to pick one of my ooey, gooey ones. Bless Will for not caring that his mom is a total goofball.
And bless Kevin Henkes and his wonderful Lily, who wears red cowboy boots, just like me.
I'm a writer and a stay-at-home mom who keeps meaning to mop the floors because I think it would make me happy if I did. I love books and music and writing, spend entirely too much time in the dentist's chair (I bet I have more crowns than you do), and used to think I was sort of bohemian, but now I wonder. No tattoos. Minivan. That story.