Banana People


This is a picture of a cabinet in our kitchen. This particular cabinet is where we store all sizes of fold-over or seal-able plastic bags, parchment paper, and wax paper on the bottom shelf. The next shelf up holds tea and hot chocolate and the one on top has napkins and some other stuff that no one ever needs so we don’t remember it’s there.

Always in the front left corner, you can find the jar you see here. It holds Sharpees. There is no logical reason to store Sharpees here. All other office supplies are stored in one of three locations: a drawer in the little buffet in the dining room, some drawers in my husband’s desk, or the craft cabinet.

No, the Sharpees are never used to write on bags. At least, not enough to warrant all dozen Sharpees of various colors being stored there. Every time I take a Sharpee from the cabinet and every time I return one, I think, “I really need to move these.”

But I can’t. Everyone expects the Sharpees to be there. They’ve been there for at least 10 years. To move them now would be to throw the entire household in confusion and risk – seriously – completely losing them. We’ve got a lot of stuff and we lose track of a lot of it. We are working on that but in the meantime, it is critical that those items that have a home continue to be stored in that home. That doesn’t stop me from marveling at the illogical storing of the Sharpees.

So how did they first come to be stored in a jar in the cabinet anyway?

When Jane was in preschool and I was an anxious first-time mom, eager to push each milestone, I was very interested in her learning to read. Her preschool did not provide lunch so I packed a lunch every day. This was also before a busy life took over so she almost always had a healthy lunch: a simple sandwich, some fruit, a cup of yogurt.

That fruit was often a banana. I started drawing on the banana. First I’d draw a face, maybe with hair, maybe with ears, a hat, glasses, bow tie, crazy eyes, tongue sticking out, whatever. I’d use several different colors. And then I’d draw a giant word bubble. The banana would say something simple to her in that word bubble or ask a question. When she got home, I’d ask her what the banana said.

I think she liked it. Her teacher said the banana always made Jane smile. I repeated the habit with Daryl. All Sharpees were stored in that cabinet over the area where I prepared their lunches so that I would have plenty of colors at my disposal.

When Hal reached preschool age a couple of years after Daryl graduated, the school had changed considerably. We investigated other options and ended up enrolling him in a different one – one that happens to provide lunch. After seven years of packing lunches and not looking forward to resuming the daily task, I was grateful. I didn’t even think about the banana people or that this arrangement would mean I would never get to draw them again.

So I commented to my husband recently that we really ought to move the Sharpees to a more logical place.

“You can’t do that,” he said. “Everyone expects them there. Besides, you drew faces on bananas with them.”

“But I won’t anymore. Hal gets lunch at school. That time has gone on. Shouldn’t we store stuff where it makes sense?”

And then it struck me. Hal graduates from preschool this year. He’ll be starting Kindergarten at the public school in the fall. And since he’s my third child and we are ridiculously busy and I’ve learned to relax about many things, he’s about at the same reading state that the other two were when they were a year or two younger than him. That means that in the fall… I could make his lunch… and he loves bananas… so I could… bring back… the banana people!

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