Fish Sticks and Fritos, and Getting Engaged At The Age of 5


The 1971-1972 Four Year Old Class, David Wick’s School. Top row, left to right: me, uknown, Chauxmarie, Kim, Paige. Bottom row: Shawn, Cliff (?), Brian, Scott, Brad, and Ms. Marge Isaacson

This week has been one of great sadness and reflection for most of us.  Any kind of tragedy, natural or un-natural, that takes even one child is hard to bear.  Tragedy that takes 20 children and the teachers that loved them is nearly impossible to bear.  The intolerable weight of the loss, and the unimaginable truth that this was a purposeful act has given all of us reason to pause. 

So easy to take for granted that when we drop our kids off at school they should be safe.  What sane person could ever imagine such evil?  They were defenseless babies, for Christ’s sake.

We can argue all day about gun control, mental health care, violent video games, broken homes, parental responsibility, and security in schools.  But the fact is that some people are just broken.  They are born broken the same way that some cars are just lemons.  They rolled out of the factory with a critical flaw.  Sometimes the flaw is apparent early, and sometimes there is no warning to the catastrophic system failure that will come.   

We can’t prevent every tragedy, or anticipate every evil.  We can never know when our time will come, or when life will take someone we love from us. What we can do is take the best advantage of the time we do have together.

Hug your loved ones.  Tell them you love them.  Enjoy the many little joys that may pass you by without notice.  It’s amazing how they diminish the power of the big ugly things to cause you unhappiness.  Did your child color on your new leather sofa with a Sharpie pen?  So what!? It’s a thing, and you can still sit on it, right?  Don’t go too hard on him (or her)…He was trying to make it prettier.  Relish whatever new “experiences” your little man may bring into your home.  The parents of 20 first graders would gladly hand a 20 pack of Sharpies to their budding artist, if only to have their child back again.

I spend a lot of time remembering my kid’s toddlerhood.  I blog about a lot of it.  But I don’t think and talk so much about my own childhood, which is a shame, because it was AWESOME.  The other day, my fifteen year old said “Mom, I don’t know much about your childhood….Except that you were going to marry Shane, because he gave you all his frogs…..”  He wanted me to tell him some stories about when I was a kid….”you know, Mom, the ancient times….”  Little fart.

But he was right, so I started thinking and sharing about my childhood, and how great it was.  How safe I always felt.  It was just a time of fun and frivolity. 

Through Kindergarten, I went to an Episcopal school called David Wick’s.  It was awesome.  We did exercises down the long, red-carpet hall way every morning.  Skipping up one direction, and hopping back the other. The Crab-Crawl.  The Elephant Walk.  I don’t even think my body will bend that way anymore.

Recess was a whirlwind of important matters.  Running through the half-buried tires. Playing in the sandbox.  Hanging from the monkey bars. Playing in the big cement tubes.  The girls would sweep all the sand and gravel out of them, only to have the boys kick more in.  Some things never change I guess. 

There was the “kissing game”, where the girls and boys would chase each other, take one another into custody, and pretend to handcuff their captive to a pole.  Then we would kiss them.  A little peck on the lips.  I might add that the “captives” did pretend to be handcuffed to the pole, and stuck around for their punishment.  Then they would break their invisible bindings, and run free. Nobody would have thought to call it sexual harassment.  (On that note: humans are the only animals that have now begun to punish their young for mimicking adult behavior.  In other species, this is merely preparing for adulthood. Maybe it’s part of our societal problems that kids can’t even be kids anymore.  They can’t play The Kissing Game without being charged with sexual harassment.  Talk about laying something heavy on a kid that still sleeps with a teddy bear. Boo!)


After recess each morning, we had a snack of cookies and Kool-Aid.  One cookie—iced molasses were my favorite—and one cup of Kool-Aid—green was my LEAST favorite—while standing in line to go back inside.  Inside was awesome too.  There was lots of coloring, my favorite.  And no matter how out of the lines our work was, our teachers treated our masterpieces as if we were the next Da-Vinci or Degas.  Of course, some of us were more Chagall or Klimt, but beauty is in the eye of he that beholds it, right?


Budding musicians playing for our parents. From left to right: Lisa, Gordon, Laura, Scott, David, Chris, Kim, Wil, Eb (Shawn swears it’s him), Me, Trevor, Vance (?), Shane, Kenny….Don’t I look thrilled?

There was a big rocking wooden row-boat.  There was music class, and music recitals.  And doing the Hokey Pokey…And we got to make macaroni necklaces and homemade butter by shaking cream and salt in a baby food jar, and then eating it on saltine crackers (that’s where the chef in me took root).  I used to stand in the corner with my friend Kim, and we would say really, really terrible words—like “poopy” and “boogars”—and giggle uncontrollably.  Heck, I’m giggling now.

My first boyfriend on earth was Scott Wagner.  We got engaged in Kindergarten.  Alas, it was a short-lived engagement.  After Scott, I was going to marry a boy called Shane Murray because, in my own words on the audio tape my parents made of me: “he gives me all his frogs”.  I don’t remember being an amphibian fancier, but I guess it was a thing.

Speaking of my pre-school friends, I am still friends with some of them to this day.  Kim Wade, David Custer, Trevor Hopkins, Shawn O’Connor, Wil Whiteside, Kenny Kohrs….And can still keep in touch with most of the others through mutual friends.  Laura Welch, Lisa Barnes, Eb Zey, Gordon Heaney, among others.  By the way, if you happen to have a really good memory like mine, I caution against just walking up to someone you haven’t seen since kindergarten and saying “didn’t you go to David Wick’s?”  They tend to be really uncomfortable that you could actually recognize them so many years later.  I am really sorry Wes Vardeman if I freaked you out in college that way.  Yeah, I remember that too.


the graduating Kindergarten Class of David Wick’s, 1973

During this most carefree time of my life, the greatest tragedy that ever struck then was, as I call it, the Great Cheese Betrayal.  You can read about it here, if you haven’t already:

There are some smells that take me back to that place so very quickly.  Like the smell of tempera paints, and iced molasses cookies, and grape Kool-Aid.  And some foods that I will still eat just because they make me feel like a kid again.

I am not going to post recipes today, but instead, my favorite meal line-ups from David Wick’s Episcopal School.  Because we should all go home, and hug our kids, and feel happy just to be with them.


  • Fish Sticks
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Green Beans
  • Strawberry Jello


  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (Grape Jelly)
  • Fritos
  • Carrot and Celery Sticks
  • Cookie


  • Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
  • Green Beans
  • Roll
  • Jello


Go home tonight and make a quick meal like one of these, and spend time with your kids (young or old) and remember being a kid yourself.

Categories: children, Family, Food, humor, writing


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23 Comments on “Fish Sticks and Fritos, and Getting Engaged At The Age of 5”

  1. 2012/12/19 at 6:09 pm #

    Seeing my granddaughter dressed as a donkey for the Nativity Pageant at her church pre-school today brought back so many memories for me! I loved being stapled inside a cardboard Christmas tree, and she has lots of “events” ahead, too! Nice post!

    • 2012/12/19 at 7:09 pm #

      You were a cardboard Christmas tree? I was corn…for a Thanksgiving play. I loved it.

  2. Blackbox _cosmetics
    2012/12/19 at 6:58 pm #

    amen to that

  3. 2012/12/19 at 8:08 pm #

    As a parent and a teacher, I can’t tell you how hard this week has been. Your post made me cry, laugh, and reminisce. I always hug my kids and tell them I love them. We are past the sharpie on the couch stage, but just took in two kittens who have destroyed every piece of furniture in the house, so I get it. Last night we had spaghetti – tonight it was salami paninis and tater tots; fish sticks might be a stretch, but I recognize the nostalgia. Thanks for your insights!

  4. 2012/12/19 at 9:27 pm #

    Went to my HS 30 year reunion this past summer. We had so much fun gathering up the old class photos from elementary school. Oh the stories we told about the things we remembered. Definitely a different time. The stories of corporal punishment and the teachers that would hit the hardest with the wooden paddle with the holes drilled in them. Holy smokes that wouldn’t happen once in today’s schools, but we (collectively) got to meet mr paddle lots of times. Laugh about the “tough guys” as they tell the female teachers “that didn’t hurt”.
    Today, we understand it wasn’t supposed to. We learned what we needed to. I often wonder how our kids today learn what we learned for those moments when we recognized cause and effect and a little respect for authority (even if it was disguised) by a little fear.

  5. 2012/12/19 at 9:49 pm #

    Oh, what lovely memories. 🙂

  6. 2012/12/19 at 11:10 pm #

    oh i love old photo scans and even the reminder of what i used to eat as a kid

  7. 2012/12/20 at 1:06 am #

    Perfect. Timing. Reminiscing. Walking down memory lane with a hanky… Thank you.

  8. 2012/12/20 at 9:58 am #

    I just love you. I was just thinking about you this morning when I realized I cooked such a horrible meal last night. HORRIBLE. I’m not going to even tell you what it was. So then I was thinking, hey why don’t I try to make something from Texana’s Kitch? But, you know, if my husband could love me after that meal- he’s really dedicated. Anyway, thank you for providing such wonderful ideas that not all of us take advantage of even though they should and also for your heart.Have a very Merrry Christmas.

    • 2012/12/20 at 11:55 am #

      Ohhh, thanks! I have made some bad meals too….Maybe I’ll blog about them one day…

  9. 2012/12/20 at 1:38 pm #

    Beautiful. I love this post. It took me back to my own childhood memories. I think everyone that reads this, will think of those days. Which just seemed more innocent. What a wonderful way to memorialize these children, but to think of the precious memories of our childhood. Thank you!

  10. 2012/12/20 at 6:18 pm #

    I’ll try this again. My computer has a mind of it’s own. As I was saying, though our childhoods were different, our philosophy on life seem to be very much the same. I’ve noticed it from many of your other posts. Life is messy and we have so little control. Gratitude and appreciation for each messy moment is essential. Thanks for sharing yours. Merry Christmas

  11. 2012/12/20 at 7:18 pm #

    What a great memory you have! I can barely remember fragments of my childhood.

    Good thing that I am writing and doodling in my blog now so that I can refer to it years later. A motivation to continue blogging!

    • 2012/12/20 at 8:03 pm #

      I wish I could say I remember because it wasn’t very long ago. But alas, it really is a good memory, and not youth.

  12. 2012/12/22 at 8:45 am #

    Poignant post! You are so right about some people being born broken and that somethings, unfortunately, can’t be prevented. And we should all live in the moment and remember that we are only on loan to one another, so we better love each other in the time we have.

    As for my favourite childhood foods–I think I lived on lunches of peanut butter and raspberry jam (I’m a creature of habit) and I remember Wagon Wheels as a treat. Do you have those in the US? Unlike their name would suggest, they are not made of wood, but rather a cookie and marshmallow combo with chocolate coating–all big and round and flat.
    And I hated (and still hate) hot dogs, which made me a really strange child, apparently.
    Merry Christmas and many blessings in 2013!!

    • 2012/12/23 at 1:15 am #

      We do have wagon wheels, but we call them moon pies. They come in both chocolate and banana flavored coating. What we call wagon wheels are little pasta wheels, so shaped.

  13. 2012/12/28 at 11:51 am #

    Aw I love this. Made me reminisce about my childhood too. And my pre-school boyfriend/fiance. Ahhhh memories 😛

    • 2012/12/28 at 12:39 pm #

      We were early bloomers…what with boyfriends and all…. 🙂

      • 2012/12/28 at 9:42 pm #

        I bloomed and then went dormant for awhile…I peaked in preschool 😛

  14. Greg
    2013/01/02 at 2:56 pm #

    I’m glad you didn’t do anything rash when you were 5 like get married, because then it wouldn’t have been me that married you! 😉

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