I Was The Little Girl With The Lunchbox

“Like everyone else I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.”

[ Charlie ChaplinMy Autobiographie ]

I haven’t talked a lot about my mother lately. In all honesty I have been to busy rejoicing in my new-found freedom.

Today I remembered something I didn’t even know I had forgotten.

I remembered the first time I distinctly realized that I was the girl who was different. I was the girl without a mommy.

The German School system is different from the American School system, so when I tell you I was in pre-school, I mean I was in my last year of kindergarten about to enter first grade and I was only one long summer vacation shy of being seven years old.

(No, I wasn’t held back a year. I’m an October baby and the deadline is in August, so … you do the math. You’re probably better at it than I am. Come to think about it, maybe I was held back a year?!)

Tradition wants that the last day of pre school is celebrated by taking on the little boys and girls on a glorious outing or in my case on a field trip to the local zoo.

The kindergarten teachers sent out information packages to the parents specifying what the children should bring a long on the trip and when to drop them off and where to pick them up.

I know it specified us bringing lunch in a backpack. The reason why I remember this so clearly is because my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Pich (pronounced “Peach” – sweet, huh?!), reminded us to bring our backpacks that our mommies would give us to kinder garden the next day.

The next morning, I didn’t have a backpack. It must have slipped my father’s mind. Somehow I knew it was vital for me to bring a piece of carry-on-luggage. I didn’t have a kiddy backpack, but I had something so much better. I had a pink sparkly care-bear lunchbox in which I stored all my favorite toys. So that morning, backpackless, I grabbed my pink lunch box filled with my most prized possessions (including but not limited to a toy car that changed colours when you rubbed it long enough with your sweaty palms) and walked myself to kindergarten.

I always walked myself to kindergarten. It was just across the park and it was the 80s so my father wasn’t too neglectful that way. A lot of kids walked themselves to kindergarten back then. Well at least preschoolers did.

When I got there not only was I the only kid who arrived without special parental attention, but I was also the only kid without a backpack.

For a moment most mothers just looked at me. Then my Mrs. Pich took be aside and asked if she could see what I brought for the special outing. When she saw that my lunchbox was filled with toys and other inedible items (including but not limited to a dried up marker), she asked me if I could do her a favor. She told me she had stupidly brought her lunch for today and for tomorrow. She wanted to know, if I would leave some of my toys behind and help her carry all the lunch she brought. Also she quickly tied a jump rope to my lunchbox so I didn’t have to hold on it around all day, but could instead carry it like an overgrown purse.

I don’t remember much more from that day. We saw animals, I think. Afterall it was a zoo. But I don’t really need to.

I have photos.

In all of them you see 12 happy children, smiling, laughing and having a great time.

All of them have little kiddy backpacks on their backs. Except for one. The brown-eyed girl with two dark thick braids carrying a glittery pink care-bear lunchbox tied awkwardly to her with a jump rope.

I remember sitting on the jungle gym for the group shot holding my lunchbox.

I distinctly remember feeling different.

But I also remember feeling special: I might not have had a mommy drop me off that morning, but I was the only kid that got to share Mrs. Piches lunch with her.

[ “Soul Killing” – The Ting Tings ]

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16 thoughts on “I Was The Little Girl With The Lunchbox

    • Awe, thanks for reading Q.E. . It’s weird what you forget and when you remember – I took a sappy romcom staring Helen Hunt of all people to drudge up that little piece of memory and now it’s so crystal I wonder how I could have ever forgotten it 😉

      Hugs, K. 🙂

    • She was Tammy! 🙂 She was this really petite old lady with silver grey hair tied back in an immaculate bun and a very gentle disposition. If you got on her wrong side though she’d really let you have it too, but would be just as fast to scold as to forgive. I think her secret was that she really loved children, but didn’t mistake herself for one.

      I was sad when I found out she passed away in 2001. She 78 years old.

      I guess there are always those teachers that you will never forget and that make a difference in your life. Not because of what they say or do, but because of how they make you feel.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment – I really appreciate it, 🙂 K.

    • Thanks, Hun 🙂 Always special to see you around here. Truly. 🙂

      Will have to get back into your daiting jungle now – pretty sure I missed a helluvalot of brilliant stories 😉

      🙂 K.

    • She was an amazing teacher. Like I told Tammy – I really believe she was one of the people you remember not for what they did or said, but for how they made you feel. 🙂

      I seriously can’t believe I forgot about her for so long and then suddenly she was there (well you know the memory of her not her in flesh – that would have been a tad creepy 😉 ).

      I wonder why we forget and how we remember… . In any case she was lovely!

      Hugs, K. 🙂

  1. This is one of those posts you save to reread on a day when the world falls apart, to remind you how important we can be in the lives of another. Metaphorically; Shouldn’t we all have an extra ‘lunch’ hanging around so we can be ready if given the opportunity to be a part of the wonderful around us?

    I think about all the amazing adults involved in my kids lives and I realize it’s an easy thing to perpetuate if we just open up ourselves to the times when we are needed to help, and be helped.

    There really were so many of this thoughtful adults in my life but your story reminds me of my 3rd grade teacher who used to hop like a frog, chase us around the classroom, and sent me home with ornaments for our non-existent Christmas tree. She cared about the kids and really, really, tried to get me out of my shell. Mrs. Gulluzzo.

    Thanks for the taking us on this trip with you. It was a really sweet story with cute imagery.

    • My pleasure, Erik! 😀

      Mrs. Gulluzzo sounds like she was made from the same mold as Mrs. Pich – I wished we (as in our society) would value teachers higher – maybe then more people would chose this as a worthy profession …

      Hugs (always!) K.

  2. A really moving story — I like how she was so careful of your dignity and at the same time so incredibly gentle and generous. How lovely it is to make a difference in someone’s life with so simple (but so huge) a gesture. Beautiful.

    • Thank you, Susan 🙂 You are right, she was very delicate in her approach. Like I told Tammy and Worrywart I think the people that really have the most impact on our lives are those that make us feel good about ourselves. Some people were born to work with children! I really wished we would value teachers more strongly in our society! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, I really appreciate it (and I’m still drooling over your recent recipe 😉 ) 😀 K.

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