I was proud of my apples.
They sat snug in a bag, waiting to impress and nourish. I was four years old and shaggy haired and excited to share my gifts with my kindergarten friends.
The week before, a classmate and his mother had brought in aluminum trays full of homemade cupcakes; we saw those edible rainbows and lost no time devouring each one, mumbling a unified “thank you” when prompted by our teacher. My classmate ate along with us, of course, but he savored the icing and crumbs and sprinkles with pride, knowing that he had gained points with everyone that day.
And so it was with a desire to share and be recognized and see smiles and receive thank yous from twenty or so of my peers that I decided to bring something to class the following week. As the magical day approached, I raided the food cabinets, searched through bins, and scoured our fridge to find something worth sharing. Unfortunately, those were rough times for my family; what little food we had was hardly worth sharing with anyone else.
Except for a small bag of apples at the bottom of the fridge. Those succulent parents of applesauce were just what I needed. Excited for school the next day, I hardly slept. In the morning, I snuck the apples into my book bag.
But there was a problem, one that my mother might have pointed out to me if I had clued her in, or maybe not for fear that it would break my heart. I didn’t realize what was wrong until I handed my bag of apples to my teacher before snack time, beaming with that odd altruism kids have.
There were only four apples.
I like to think that my four year old mind registered the apples as huge, more than enough to share with everyone else, including my teacher. I even told my teacher that we could slice them up to make more. But with a sympathetic smile and a hand on my shoulder, she explained that it wasn’t enough for everyone, and that maybe I could bring something else to share with everyone.
But how could she know that there wasn’t anything else at home to share?