Chicken pattie day, which happens about once every two weeks, brings an unwavering sense of excitement for my kids. To preface the situation, my kids will not come near any food they cannot identify. On quesadilla day, three-fourths of my kids go hungry in light of the fear of eating something which is unknown and therefore potentially “gross.” They’ll pick up the quesadilla, pull apart the layers, eye it carefully, sniff it, and then with a shout out of “EW!” throw it down and sit with a grumpy, pouty look on their face until the end of lunch when they throw the tray away, and then proceed to complain for the rest of the day about how hungry they are. I would say this routine is the same for 3 out of 5 days each week…quesadilla day, chicken parmesan day, “maxy stick” day, chicken gravy day, fajita day…all of these wildly foreign foods are bound to lead to temper-tantrums in the second grade.
So on chicken pattie day, the kids are ecstatic to eat something familiar, and I’m equally ecstatic that I won’t have to bargain with hungry kids all afternoon. You surely have seen the infamous chicken pattie before: it is uniformly round, about 1/2 inch thick, lightly breaded, and fried up in grease. You could it eat it plain, on a dinner roll, between two slices of famously soft Bunny bread, or, if you really want to push the limits of the chicken pattie, you can eat it on whole-wheat, flaxseed, sprouted pita bread with 70 calories and 10 grams of fiber (my kids would obviously love this option).
Or if you are in the Pope School cafeteria, you could eat it with 6 packs of mayonnaise and no bun and definitely forget the fiber, or any health-conscious option for that matter. Perhaps the student who most exemplifies the spirit of chicken pattie day is Student A, who after sitting down, carefully proceeds through the following steps:
1. She immediately takes the chicken pattie off the bun.
2. She squeezes not one, but three, mayonnaise packets onto the top of the chicken pattie.
3. She happily licks a bit of the mayonnaise off the chicken pattie.
4. She eats the mayonnaise-coated chicken pattie. There is now a hearty coat of mayonnaise on her face.
5. She now opens a tub of processed butter-flavored spead. She uses her fork to spread the “butter” on her bun.
6. She eats the bun.
7. Student A then lifts the butter tub to her mouth and licks it clean.
Watching Student A, I couldn’t help but stare. Student A looked at me and asked in a voice that clearly showed no affect for my awe-stricken face, “What Ms. Bowman, you don’t like mayonnaise? Don’t you put mayonnaise and butter on your chicken pattie?” I weakly stared back and shook my head in an admittedly indecisive manner. For Student A, this was the most natural and acceptable way to eat a chicken pattie. Maybe I am the one who has the real problem. Maybe I have a mayonnaise in large quantities and licking butter spread out of the tub-phobia? Maybe I should start living by the adage of “if you can’t beat them, join them?” Maybe on the next chicken pattie day I should get a couple packs of mayonnaise and tub of butter and spread them all on my own chicken pattie, lick the top, give it a good sniff, take a big bite, and see what I’ve been missing. With this in mind, the future sure does look promising.