First, let’s talk Mom’s Day. It’s sweet as strawberries, fluffy as a pancake, and most importantly, not a jerk. Do you have your plans mapped out for the day? Flowers, phone call, dinner, a cheesy card? Maybe you forgot and are throwing together a last minute shinanigan. Perhaps you’re still looking for a fabulous recipe to treat mom to? –Or just need a new weekend pancake. Follow the link above to get the recipe for my Cinnamon-Oat Pancakes with a Strawberry Smash, now featured on HooplaHa. I’m excited to partner with HooplaHa for this cooking segment, so check it out, give it a ‘like’, and most important, try the recipe — It’s a perfect Mother’s Day (or any day) treat!

And then there is the Jerk Store… It placed a call to my class the other week.

In the biggest surprise in my teaching career I was called a jerk! (With emphasis.) By a kindergartener. Why? Because I refused to give a child seconds. It sounds cruel, but stay with me– because there weren’t enough leftovers for everyone who wanted some. Instead of a few getting seconds, no one received seconds. Fair is fair and I’m a JERK!

It happens — I don’t realize how much my students will enjoy a dish we make, or we’re saving most of our extras for our end of semester party and my students are provided a paltry serving. In this case, we were making pierogies, saving most for our end of semester party. Each student received three homemade dumplings stuffed with caramelized cabbage and onion, served with a side of apple sauce. Seriously delicious even if kindergarten muscle can’t roll dough thin enough.

I explained at the start of class we would all receive three. No more. “Fine,” they all said. “These look gross [humph].”

So the moment arrives. Plates are literally being licked clean. We’re working on cleaning up and there are requests for more. Sorry, no, and we’re over time anyway. It’s accepted by all but one. The one who has now arrived to stand at the front of class staring at the pot of boiling water with a last bobbing pierogi. One who whispers to me: “No one will know,” (as 15 sets of eyes warily glare in our direction). One who tells me I’m her “favorite teacher.”

Oh yes, my friends, she is good. She has been practicing for five hearty and healthy years. She is the one who previously “hated!” everything we cooked and with the talent of a fine Shakesperean actor writhed and wriggled through tasting our dish. She who now exclaims phrases like, “beets! Those are my favorite!” Or– “Chard?! I love chard!” “Spinach? YESSSSS!” I kid you not.

And while you’re very sweet, sorry, no. Clean up.

In a final bought of frustration she breaks down and cries, stomps her foot, dribbling applesauce from her plate onto her left shoe. This has ugly potential. I snarl a lip, take a step toward the boiling pot, and hide behind my apron in fear of applesauce splatter. (I have thankfully learned never to wear my favorite clothes in a kindergarten class.)

And then what? Of course–! A mother comes into the classroom to pick up her child –A different child, but none-the-less, I am now dealing with a mother, me: “Oh hi, welcome! Yesss, please come in…” and a child throwing a fit exclaiming all she “wants in life is another pierogi!” Oh she is good. That parent arriving early? Likely planned by her.

Thankfully, she lost her cue (as if her only desire in life being another pierogi wasn’t enough). Waiting until the mother departed before stomping foot again (applesauce splatting my classroom floor) and in a final bout of fisted arms crossing exclaimed: “Jerk!” Then pronounced that “cooking used to be my favorite club, but now I hate it! — Because of you!”

And the room paused. And the good children cleaning up looked at teacher [that’s me].

Oh yes, I put a kibosh on that.

The class eventually leaves and the following week I don’t show up. (Not because of this student, but because of my own schedule conflict.) Back this week, we’re making cod cakes.

The first round is served and everyone happily munches away. Plates are cleaned and this same student quietly, with head down, shuffles to the front of class. In one timid breathe she exhales: “Excuss-m’-surry-I-jusss… I really like the cod cake. [Breathe] Is there enough for seconds?”

Thankfully, yes. As I reach to serve her another cod cake another student yells out:
“Hey! I thought you didn’t like Ms. Stacey! Now you like her again?”

And she turns, looks me in the eye and says:
“I just really like what we cook.”
She turns, shoves the hot cod cake in her mouth, finishing it before making it back to her chair.

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