They are a taste of my childhood. Memories of a bag of Smarties candy rolls in a high cupboard ~ but not too high for me to reach them ~ are vivid, as is the sugary, slightly sour taste and chalky feel on the teeth as they dissolve.
I am sure I reached up often for a roll or two or a handful and ran upstairs to my room with a book. I am sure they were on hand as treats for younger siblings learning to use the toilet or behave in public.
It is a memory of Sunday church with small children and young motherhood, though not with me as the provider. I did not want or need to use candy bribes for my children. They must learn to obey just because.
That did not stop Grammy from slipping them from her purse and handing them out to fussy little ones or as a treat for an after service hug.
It’s amazing what you can do with that dumb candy! she would say.
I knew better. I was above carrying rolls of candy in my purse or diaper bag but tolerated an old lady’s handing them out, much to the delight of my young ones. I wish I had carried the candy.
I was reminded of Smarties several weekends ago with the visit of a dear childhood friend. We had not seen each other in person since fourth grade but had connected on social media several years ago. Finally a We really need to get together in person had worked out, and she made the three hour trek to visit.
It was a wonderful time of reconnecting and catching up, of remembering things together.
Until . . .
I have a memory of you giving me a roll of Smarties candy, but you crossed out the word Smarties and wrote Dummies on it, she said, laughing.
I was mortified and felt embarrassed by this memory. I did not recall it at all, though it made total sense due to the role (no pun intended) that particular candy played in my life at the time. We were also academic rivals (as much as could be in first through fourth grades) often coming in first and second with our grades.
She assured me that it was more playful than hurtful, though I still struggled that I could not remember the incident. What else have I done that I don’t remember in another person’s life? How do others remember me?
I allowed myself permission to have been a child that did silly, immature things. I am sure it was around the time of this incident.
One of my children immediately latched onto the story and commented, Here you are saying, “Oh I was so traumatized as a child” when really you were just a bully!
That’s the thing. We all have been harmed and harmed others, either inadvertently or intentionally. My friend was incredibly gracious to frame the story with humor, but I am sure others have stories of me that are not as funny or playful.
Those people most likely lived in my home with me, but I am sure also crossed my path in classrooms or dorm rooms or work rooms.
It was a sweet time together, and I ended up being thankful for the memory and subsequent wrestling with it. It was fun to see myself as a child and to find eyes of kindness rather than shame for that young person.
If I could go back, though, these are the candies I would give her instead.