Dear Mrs. Harolds,
I may have been in 3rd grade with a fledgling worldview and a tiny stature, but if there was one thing I understood, it was justice.
Justice (and, incidentally, righteous indignation) were bred into every last molecule in my stubborn, pint-sized being. Thus, even though children often unwittingly grant adults unbridled authority and unquestioning amnesty, I knew on that gray day in the middle of November that you were being unfair.
There was precedent for said unfairness. I had a nervous habit (and still do, actually) of picking at my lips, which were always dry for some reason. One day you walked by and roughly pushed my arm down while I was standing in line, and I remember the shock of the physical correction. In the confusing moments that followed, I tried to evaluate whether or not that was an appropriate action for a teacher to take. I finally decided that it most certainly was not.
There was also that time when Logan stole my troll doll pencil. He’d been eying it all day while Chris and I used it to produce elaborate troll doll plays. When it went missing, I confronted him and, while he looked decidedly uneasy, he denied any knowledge of its whereabouts. When I informed you of this, fully trusting that you would remedy the situation because that’s what adults are supposed to do, you shrugged. “If he says he doesn’t have it,” you said, “there’s nothing I can do about it.”
My tiny heart burned with indignation. There was sure something I could do about it if you wouldn’t intervene! I marched right over and yanked Logan’s bookbag open before he even had a chance to protest. There, looking happily up at me from on top of a social studies book, was my troll doll pencil. I grabbed it and stalked away as you watched in surprise.
But this was a wholly different situation. This time, you were implicitly criticizing my dad. Perhaps you didn’t know this about me, but that’s one of the last things you want to do in my presence.
It all started with that chocolate rice cereal treat. It was snack time at school, so I pulled the treat from my bookbag and began to tear open the foil wrapper around it. I’d been bringing the cereal treats for my snack ever since my tapioca pudding cups had, without warning, become inexplicably gross to me. But for some reason on this day, my cereal treat was like a magnet for your keen eyes. You strode over to me before I’d even taken a bite.
“You can’t eat that for snack time. Snack time is for healthy snacks.” I looked around at others’ crackers and chips, confused as to why my snack alone warranted this criticism (indeed, if I’d known what I know now, I’d have retorted that crackers are about as worthless for you and a lot less fun).
“Well, this is what my dad bought for me for snack time,” I responded, unsure of how to proceed.
“You can’t eat them. Don’t bring them anymore.” I thought of the box of cereal treats sitting at home designated for my snack time. I thought of my parents’ slim budget. I thought of how hard they both worked to provide for our huge family. You didn’t know it, Mrs. Harolds, but you’d just planted the seed of a lifelong grudge.
I didn’t throw the cereal treat at you or throw a crying fit, although my 3rd grade brain probably considered both of those options. Instead, I mourned about it all day and, with considerable angst, revealed to my parents that night that I couldn’t bring cereal treats anymore. Lest you feel victorious about that fact, however, I’d like to remind you that I’m sitting here 20 years later writing a vindictive description of you for the amusement of the general public. For good measure, I may even tell folks about your nose hairs and the time you threw whiteboard markers at us.
Not only that, but I’m doing all of this in a post that shares a recipe for some indulgent, sugary, chocolatey, salty-and-sweet cereal treats. Some particularly marshmallowy ones, even.
I don’t know, but I’d say I had the last laugh.
P.S. Or, I don’t know, maybe the fact that I’m still annoyed at you 20 years later does mean you win. Grr.
And another P.S. to my readers: Have you ever had an unfair teacher? Here’s your space to vent! Unless you’re one of my students, in which case, go do your homework.
Chocolate & Pretzel Cereal Treats
Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, adapted from Kellogg’s
Yield: about 12 bars
These are cereal treats on steroids! You can mix any kind of cereal you like, but here I’ve chosen to combine chocolate and plain rice cereals. The addition of salty pretzels and gooey chocolate chips make these treats indulgent and delicious. As a bonus, they’re super easy to make!
1/4 cup butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows or 1 package (10 ounces) large marshmallows
2 cups chocolate rice cereal
2 cups plain rice cereal
2 cups pretzel wheels (broken into pieces, but not pulverized), plus whole pretzels for topping
3/4 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
Spray a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray and set it aside. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in the marshmallows (I use a spatula coated with cooking spray) until they’re completely melted and remove the pan from the heat.
Add the cereal, pretzel pieces, and chocolate chips and stir until they’re thoroughly coated. Pour the mixture out into your prepared pan. Use a sheet of wax paper to press the mixture into an even layer in your pan. Quickly press whole pretzels in rows all along the surface of the bars.
Let the treats cool completely (and maybe even drizzle some melted chocolate over them!) and then cut into squares to serve. The treats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for two days, or can be frozen (separated by wax paper) for up to 6 weeks.