Sarah Wheeler — On the Matter of Peanut Butter Jellies

Dear Principal Lavenza,

I didn’t want to have to write this letter.
I’m not one of those parents who enjoys rocking the boat, you understand. But all the moms were talking about it after our private Zumba class, and we agree that we’ve had enough. And I, as the most eloquent and outspoken of the group, was unanimously voted to talk to you, except for by Annie, who has always been jealous that my hair curls naturally while hers does not. So if she sends you a separate letter please put it directly into the paper shredder, as hers has not been authorized by the group as mine has.

I’m sure you remember how it started, when little Susie took a bite of Greg’s peanut butter jelly and started swelling up like a blowfish. You sent a letter home saying not to have any more peanut butter jellies in school – or any peanut product – and I obeyed even though Johnny loves his peanut butter jelly. I feel it only right to tell you he has not eaten lunch in weeks because I swapped it with ham and chicken and egg sandwiches. He does not eat any kind of meat from an animal, but what am I supposed to do, give him a jelly sandwich? There is no protein in that, and he is very small for his age (though the doctor says he is growing normally, or as normally as one can expect).

Next it was Oscar and the full moon. You said that in an effort to be inclusive, because Oscar couldn’t have class on the full moon, none of the students could. That’s over a week of school, and this is not public school but a private charter school that is supposed to be one of the best in the nation for people like us! I don’t think I have to remind you tuition is twenty-one thousand, eight hundred and twelve dollars for my six year old, so those full moon days add up to more than chump change! And even if I wanted to put Johnny in public school, it’s not as if I can send him down to Jefferson Elementary, with all those girls reading about heroic incubi and reluctant lycanthropes and what have you. Could you imagine the frenzy if a norm were to see him in a locker room? Kid’s self-conscious enough about his hooves – not to mention his tail, which admittedly is smaller than average, and curls in an awkwardly porcine way.

And then of course because you were making an exception for Oscar, you had to make one for Vladimir’s weird little boy. And I don’t mean that as in insult, but you have to agree, he is some sort of weirdo, hanging around always staring at necks. Johnny says he caught him sucking on Susie’s when the poor girl was going into anaphylactic shock, and did he get so much as a time out? No he did not! He needs consequences Lavenza, not coddling! And don’t give me that nonsense about bloodsuckers will be bloodsuckers; they were singing the same tune back when I attended Jekyll and Hyde’s – you remember the year the entire class had to wear scarves? The mer-people kept going to the nurse with fabric in their gills.

And yes it was kind of you to offer to hold two sets of classes for the children who could not adjust to the nocturnal schedule, but surely you should have foreseen how that would descend into turf wars between Dailies and Nighters. Those people will continue to go at it as they have always done; only now instead of tearing up each other they are tearing up desks and cubbies and even a painting that Johnny made for me for Mother’s Day – which was priceless and irreplaceable (though I am willing to negotiate monetary compensation). And please don’t scold me over the use of those people, because we all know to which overly-incisored and lunarly-challenged groups I am referring. Let’s be honest, they only get away with their behavior because they have been romanticized in the media. What about the rest of us? Am I not too a desirable woman? When will the goat-people have their turn? But I digress – Johnny.

I didn’t say this at the time because Johnny begged me not to, but he came home two weeks ago with his underwear up around his waist and a bite mark in his neck. My son, my precious little cloven-hoofed angel, has become a casualty of war. Could you imagine if I had not vaccinated him? If not for my incredible foresight, he would undoubtedly be off biting the Susies and Gregs of the world, and all because Susie at a sandwich she should not have eaten.

So, Principal Lavenza, what I’m trying to say is,
Tomorrow I am sending Johnny to school with a peanut butter jelly,
And if Susie doesn’t like it tell her to bite it – the problem should solve itself.

Cheryl Geit ✷



Sarah Wheeler grew up in Portland, Oregon. She is currently out of town getting an MFA in Fiction, but leave a message at the tone and she’ll get back to you @wheeler_tweets