Disclaimer, my siblings may each have their own memories of this story and that is okay. Memories are just extractions of an event that occurred in the past and come back to us the way we remember them as well as the way we perceived them. Because of this, each person will take a unique interpretation of the memory. What follows is my own memory of this event and the significance it had for me.
I grew up in the farmhouse my parents and grandparents shared. At the time this story took place, my grandfather was no longer alive and my grandmother was living in the upstairs of our farmhouse. I and my two brothers were typical boys. We tried to be good and most times we were kept so busy with farm chores, that we didn’t have a lot of time to get in much trouble. But as boys will be boys, and no that is not an excuse, we would still find times to get in our share of trouble.
It would be at these times, exasperated by our behavior, that our mother would lay down the law and send us upstairs to our room. I am not sure how this was really going to straighten us out but it seemed to be the law.
Upon arriving upstairs, grandma would take us aside and ask us what we had done this time? Upon our confession, we would be given her sage advice on how we might have made a better choice had we thought about the consequences. And then would come the sugar sandwich. Grandma was always making homemade bread. You know the kind, soft and chewy and warm enough to melt the butter she applied. But grandma added an extra ingredient, a spoonful of sugar.
After her advice was taken and sorrys were said, the sugar sandwich treat was ours to devour. We would then be sent back downstairs to repent our behaviour, tell mom we were sorry and promise never to err again, or at least not for the rest of that day. We always thought mom didn’t know about the sugar sandwich and that if she ever found out, it may have changed our punishment routine. In some ways I have always wondered why the whole process didn’t cause us to seek out the punishment just to get the sugar sandwich. Truth of the matter was, that as good as those sandwiches were, the lecture from mom and the reinforcement from grandma were enough to make us want to behave better.
If there is a moral here, and there are multiple morals, it is that children aren’t raised by just the parent. The more we share the responsibility of inspiring our children, the more rounded they become. A pun involving the sugar here comes to mind but that is not the “rounded” I am referring to. There is value in the sage wisdom of grandparents, relatives and friends that can teach children perspective and help develop their opinions and ethics. My grandmother knew how to get us to listen to the lesson. In some ways, the sugar sandwich reminded me that I could be forgiven if I was willing to accept my responsibility.
In the day to day ups and downs, we can all use the occasional sugar sandwich to let us know we are still okay and still loved. Try giving someone you care about a sugar sandwich. Who knows, they might even take your advice.