The Childhood Story Your Parents Always Tell

sandwichHave you ever noticed that your parents tend to tell the same stories about you over and over?

When I introduce my parents to someone new–usually a girlfriend, but sometimes a friend–almost without fail my mom will tell the Sandwich Story.

I’m warning you: It’s not a good story. It’s just a story that happens to be the story my mom tells about me. Sorry Mom, but it’s the truth!

When my mom made lunch for me and my siblings in elementary school, we always got a half sandwich. Usually it was peanut butter and something else–jelly, honey, banana, and, for a short phase for me, pickle (yeah, it’s weird). Later we also had the option of lunch meat sandwiches.

The key part of that information is that we got a half sandwich. Except that I didn’t know that they were half sandwiches. I just thought that’s what a sandwich was–one piece of bread cut in half and folded onto itself with stuff in the middle.

So in middle school when I started making my own lunch, that’s what I made for myself: A half sandwich. It didn’t occur to me that there was a whole other world out there of whole sandwiches. Of course, I knew they existed–other kids had them–but it seemed like an extravagance, like a car on your 16 birthday or those Hypercolor shirts.

This continued throughout puberty, a time when my body actually needed more food. I probably went about 5 years eating half lunches until one day my mom decided to say something about it. She can tell you the dialogue better than I can–after all, she has told this story way more than I have–but I think she said something like, “Jamey, you know you can have a whole sandwich if you’d like.”

Me (checking to see what time Boy Meets World was on that night): “What?”

Mom: “A whole sandwich. You can use two pieces of bread.”

Me (adjusting my retainer): “Did Dad get promoted or something?”

Mom: “No, it’s nothing like that. Aren’t you hungry after only eating half a sandwich?”

Me: “Is it a special occasion? Arbor Day?”

Mom: “No honey, Arbor Day isn’t a real day. If you’re hungry, you can make a whole sandwich.”

Me (slowly taking another piece of bread from the bag): “Is this a trick? Am I about to get dishwasher duty?”

Mom (sighs and walks away)

I think we actually had a longer chat about whole sandwiches than we did about the birds and the bees.

The funny thing is, I’m 32 now, and as evidenced by my lunch today, I still prefer half sandwiches.

I bet you have a story that your parents always tell. Take as much room as you want in the comments or link to your blog if you want to write it there. I want to hear your stories. Are you embarrassed by them or do you help tell the story?

3 thoughts on “The Childhood Story Your Parents Always Tell”

  1. Wow – your readers must have really embarrassing stories they just don’t want to share! I figured I’d find at least an hour’s worth of entertainment here by now. 🙂

    I only heard your sandwich tale in the last few years. Don’t know how I missed it all that time.

    The tale Mom tells about *me* takes place on my Haught grandparents’ farm in Cupleper. My age in the story ranges from about 3 to 5 years old. I was young. That’s an important detail. To me, at least.

    It must have been in the fall, because Grandpa had just slaughtered a hog. We kids (meaning, if I was 5, Cyndi, Matt, and I) had no doubt spent a good deal of time in the basement where said hog was being processed into yummies.

    Grandpa’s home-made link sausage was out of this world. To this day, it is hands down the best food ever to tango on my taste buds. Grandpa smoked it, Grandma canned it. I can’t even describe it. A few years ago Dad made some up at the farm, using the instructions Grandpa left in the journal he kept during the last 7 years of his life. He gave me a jar. I didn’t open it right away – I wanted to wait until I could present it to my kids in a special meal. When that day came, I couldn’t get the jar open. Seriously. Hot water on the lid, damp dish towel, rubber gloves… no joy. Before resigning myself to utter defeat, I gave it one last try. The jar popped open. It had been years – decades – since I had last breathed in that amazing, wonderful aroma. I cried.

    Oh, sorry – was I saying something?

    We had been in the basement watching Grandpa do what Grandpas do to hogs they slaughter. (We particularly liked the box of cloven hooves back in the corner, though today I am at a loss to recall what the appeal was there.) I eventually wandered back up to the kitchen where the womenfolk were gathered, like as not preparing whatever meal was coming up next. When Grandma asked me what Grandpa was doing, I, in my youthful innocence, reported with all confidence, “He’s downstairs cutting that pig up into lamb chops.”

  2. Jamey, this story is too cute. 🙂 I’m glad you finally had the option of at least choosing to eat a whole sandwich if you wanted to!

    There were two incidences that happened when I was younger that my mom and I still joke about today. We only tell the story to close friends and family, and of course, my husband!

    The first story is that when I was about three or four years old, I accidentally knocked over a potted plant in the living room on the light peach carpet. (Of all colors!) There was dirt all over the place, and parts of it were even a tad bit muddy from watering the plant. My mom, who I’ve always been close with and who has always been so patient and kind, was not extremely upset with me, as it was an accident and I was pretty small … but in the years to come, she coined a phrase that warned me that I better not do something bad. She would say, “If you do such-and-such, your name is going to be mud!” That phrase popped up occasionally throughout the years, but looking back on it now, we laugh.

    The second story is that when I was in grade school (about ten years old), I disagreed with my mom about something – probably homework – and I told her so. And then I stomped up the stairs. She called after me to come back down … and she said that since I liked stomping up and down the stairs so much, that I could now stomp up and down them twenty times. This was her quiet way of letting me know that stomping was not appropriate … and after all that stomping, I never stomped again!


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