When I was a kid, I never liked the “heels” of the bread. You know what I mean, the bread ends – the crusty pieces? (Sidenote: am I the only one that calls them heels, is that a thing that everyone does or just my family?) I never liked them, and I never voluntarily made a sandwich with them, unless there was simply no other option. Even as a mother, when I’d make my child a sandwich with the heel of the bread, I put the peanut butter on the side that was all crust so that they wouldn’t be able to tell.
What is it with bread ends? Why don’t we like them? My mom is a former kindergarten and preschool teacher and I recall her telling me once that she had a student who loved the heels of the bread. Whenever that student had a sandwich made with the bread ends, he would act like it was the best day of his life. My mom told me at the time, “His mother is very smart. Clearly that child has been taught that the bread ends are the very best pieces of the loaf of bread.”
Sadly, I did not remember that story in time to apply it to my own parenting. But I did remember it when I saw a Facebook post by a friend of mine recently. Shana Anderson is a mom of three boys in my community, one of whom, Reeve, happens to have Down syndrome. She is the owner of Reeve’s Tees, and it’s one of my very favorite businesses to support, because it makes T-shirts to educate others about down syndrome awareness and the awareness of other disabilities. The company’s awesome designs encourage their community to “get comfortable with difference.”
So, it should not have surprised me when I saw Shana had written an amazing post the other day about bread ends. Her post brought my mom’s lesson about those pieces of bread back to my mind, and it melds perfectly with what Shana is trying to say. She posted a picture of two bread ends on a plate and said:
“In homes across the country, you will likely find the greatest invention of all times – a bag of sliced bread. Who doesn’t benefit from quick and easy access to fresh, delicious bread?
Adults, Seniors, Kids – all ages can enjoy bread. PB&Js, Ham Sandwiches, Toast, and more – the opportunities are endless!!!
As commonplace as the bread itself, there is an interesting, unexplained, and nearly universal phenomenon worthy of discussion – the treatment of the ends – people’s behavior towards the first and last slices of bread. Despite being made from the exact same ingredients as every other slice of bread in the bag, people rarely choose the two end pieces.
It is profound, really… People act like that first piece doesn’t even exist. Day after day, they will open the bag, skip over the end piece, and instead reach for the second, third, fourth, and so on until every piece in the bag has been chosen EXCEPT for the two ends.
They are considered the leftover pieces – the ones used to feed fish or ducks at the pond but not worthy of a turkey sandwich. Some people even throw the bag away with the two end pieces in there – oh, the travesty!
Ironically, the two end pieces are actually the hidden jewels in the bag. People may ignore them or discard them because they look different, but believe me friends – they have so many advantages!
Most notably – they are tough. Unlike all the other slices that were shielded from the direct heat of the pan, the end pieces took it all in! They withstood the heat, and therefore, they are actually the strongest pieces of bread in the bag.
The same visible differences which cause people to judge them as inferior are actually the marks showing their strength. They won’t break apart when making French toast, and they never get soggy. They are tough enough to absorb the grease of a hamburger! Trust me – they are worthy of respect!
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
This is the month of bringing awareness and promoting acceptance for those in our society who are often overpassed, not chosen, not seen, and perceived to be inferior just because they look different.
I ask a small favor this month – if you ever find yourself skipping the ends of the bread loaf – please try them instead! I promise your bread experience will be greatly enhanced by these special and unique pieces.
Make a sandwich, toast, croutons – be creative. Find a way to include these often overlooked pieces of bread in your life. Please post a pic, share your experience, and share this story to spread awareness! And let the bread ends be a symbol and reminder of inclusiveness – during Down syndrome Awareness Month and always.
Those who look different are made up of the exact same ingredients as everyone else. Include them, and their unexpected and wonderful qualities may surprise you, if given a chance! “
I love which Shana has to say about inclusiveness here and every time I look at the bread ends on my loaf of bread, I will think about my amazing friends who may be a little different from me who I am so thankful to have in my life.
Parents, I hope you will all take the opportunity the next time you’re making a sandwich to articulate Shana’s words in your own way to your kiddos and help your children understand how to be includers to the people with differences and different abilities in their world.