I was sitting at the kitchen table as my mother was in raptures about chocolate. She was always great about attempting to inspire me to do my homework, but this time the act of inspiring me became what I turned in.
Neither she nor I can remember now exactly what the assignment was, only that it involved candy; probably a one page writing assignment about my favorite kind of Valentine or Easter candy. I wasn’t completely bereft of source material, I just wasn’t sure that it would fill up a page.
I was always freaking out about the amount I was assigned to write in sixth grade. It wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I learned that if I quit fussing, calmed down, and just wrote until I was finished saying what I wanted to say that I would usually write enough for the necessary page count. Sometimes I would write more than necessary, and sometimes less, but in those instances at least I knew that I had said all I needed to. In sixth grade, even with my big handwriting, I was still twitchy about being able to fill up a page.
My favorite kind of Easter candy isn’t all that interesting, since it’s the same answer I would give if someone asked me what my favorite Halloween candy is, or my favorite Christmas candy... I like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. Egg shaped ones at Easter, pumpkin shaped ones at Halloween, tree shaped ones at Christmas, and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups shaped ones for every other day of the year. The first time I was pregnant, the only thing I wanted to eat when I got off work was a handful of mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.
Miss Haefle assigned us at least one writing assignment in our writing journals every week, and it was never usually longer than one page. I usually fretted about whatever topic had been assigned, and my mother would usually prod me with questions to help me think of what to fill the page with.
Uninspired, I sat there while she tried to entice me with thoughts of chocolate, but my unenthusiastic monosyllabic responses sent her into a tirade about the differences between dark and milk chocolate, the audacity of sullying the chocolate with nuts or other foreign objects, and her own preference for one brand over another.
The page slowly filled up as I copied down all of these thoughts, my mouth half open in amazement. I was fairly certain she never talked that enthusiastically about me, and I added that thought. By the time she was finished talking about chocolate, I was finished writing my assignment. Sure, I like chocolate, but apparently not as much as my mother does.
She and I always laugh about that scene when we remember it. I can still see her standing there by the sink, flourishing her wrist while she talked about Hershey’s Kisses. She distracted me enough to make me forget about my apprehension for the assigned length of my homework and inspired me to enjoy doing it, even if it was just a page on chocolate.