• Ann Morrow

Peanut Butter Baby

Physically, I didn’t acquire many of my dad’s traits. But there’s no doubt, that I am my father’s daughter. If it’s genetically possible to inherit an over-the-top imagination, then Dad’s laughter and love of storytelling are flowing through my veins.

I grew up listening to him share memories about his childhood that were so vivid, I could imagine every detail. As he spoke, I could clearly envision all the people and places from his past. I loved the wonderful bedtime tales he’d make up as he went along, but the funny stories about his classmates and cousins, were my favorites.

From the time he was a young boy, and throughout his adult life, Dad was a practical joker. Even years after his passing, if you were to ask people what they remember about him, most would mention his sense of humor. As a renowned prankster, he was never mean, but he did have a bit of an ornery streak. It didn’t matter if you were a friend, co-worker or family member; sooner or later, he was gonna getcha.

Being a child didn’t mean I was exempt, and my earliest memory of being pranked happened when I was about five years old. As my parents watched television, I spent the better part of the evening playing in the clubhouse (under the dining room table) with my favorite companion, Rub-a-Dub Dolly. At 8:00, Mom tapped on the tabletop and reminded me it was almost bedtime.

Not knowing what was about to take place, I foolishly left Dolly alone. I kissed her on the head and assured her I’d be right back. Then, padded down the hall to my bedroom to change into my pajamas.

Several minutes later, as I stepped into my fuzzy slippers, I could hear my dad talking and laughing. I couldn’t tell what he was saying, but he was laughing a lot. Whatever they were watching on TV must have been hilarious. As I walked back down the hall, I saw Dad making a beeline from the dining room to his chair in the living room. He glanced over at me as he sat down.

“Whatcha doin?” I asked, as I walked by.

“Me? Oh, I’m not doing anything.” I noticed the prominent dimples in his cheeks as he tried to hide his grin. I hadn’t yet learned that if you could see Dad’s dimples, he was probably up to no good.

Back in the clubhouse, I told Dolly it was time for her to get ready for bed, too. I brushed her hair, washed her face, and prepared to change her into her pj's by standing her on her head and removing her polka-dotted bloomers.

That's when I saw it. A weird looking bump on my baby’s bum. What could it be? I pressed on her diaper - crafted from an old handkerchief - and the bump moved. I was dumbfounded. What was in there?

Being naïve and not yet schooled in practical jokery, I lifted the edge of the handkerchief-diaper and stuck my hand inside. I immediately regretted my decision and yanked my hand back. Panic set in as I stared down at my yucky fingers, and I burst into tears. This wasn’t possible! What was happening? And why would Santa bring me such a faulty baby?

Over my crying, I heard Dad’s laughter. Now I was really confused. I was in the midst of a cotton-picking crisis, and he was laughing?

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

I pulled myself together long enough to answer. “There’s something in Dolly’s diaper.”

“Really? What is it?”

I held up my hand, “It’s doll pucky,” I bawled.

Then, I noticed that Dad was crying too. He was laughing so hard that tears were running down his cheeks. He wiped his eyes and cleared his throat. “Bring her here.”

With my clean hand, I grabbed Dolly by the hair and carried her at arm’s length to my dad. He peeked in her diaper, then thrust her back at me. “Oh, yuck!” He said. “You’d better smell it.”

Clearly, the man had lost his mind. “Nooooo!” I cried.

“Oh, come on. It’ll be fine.” He assured me.

Reluctantly, and against my better judgement, I touched my nose to Dolly’s behind. Then, just stood there as my pea-sized, child brain clicked into gear and caught onto what was happening. I recognized the familiar smell, and my panic was replaced by relief.

“It’s peanut butter!” I bellowed. Dad howled with laughter and grabbed me in a hug. Quite literally, I had been the “butt” of his practical joke.

Eventually, I made a full recovery and started playing with Dolly again. But to this day, every time I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I have flashbacks. Crazy, happy flashbacks of a childhood that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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