(A Father's Day Story)
Slivers of sunlight reached through the vertical blinds and warmed my legs as I rolled over. Spring crickets sang their overture and the scent of blueberry pie wafted over me before the . . . smoke? My eyes popped open like a toaster.
“It’s okay.” Jill rested her gentle hand across my chest and stopped me from bolting into the kitchen. “The girls are making you breakfast in bed . . . so don’t move. I’ll check on them.”
“Smells like we should call the fire department.”
“Just a little burnt toast, I’m sure. Happy Father’s Day, honey.” She kissed my cheek and left to supervise.
I lay in bed trapped, waiting for breakfast. Didn’t they know I only drank coffee in the morning? A dot of milk with no sugar. Strong and bitter. I wouldn’t feel like eating till twelve, at least. I wiggled my toes out of the sheet so they could breathe in some fresh air . . . and waited . . . read a chapter of Dr. James Dobson’s Bringing up Girls. And waited.
Six and ten year-old size footsteps pitter-pattered down the hall toward my door. Then a knock loud enough to shatter my bones.
“Dad?” Laura called.
“It’s open.” I got up to help since their hands were full.
“What’s this?” I looked as surprised as ever.
“We made you breakfast for Father’s Day,” Sandy answered.
“We have a few courses,” added Laura.
“Wow, you shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble.” I kissed the tops of their heads and smelled strawberries. Hmm. Shampoo or jam?
“We made our favorites.”
I propped up a few pillows, set the tray over my lap, and examined my first course. Pancakes bursting with color.
“We didn’t have chocolate chips, so we made M&M pancakes.”
“They sure are colorful.” My beautiful daughters stared at me with wide grins, waiting for me to take a bite, I supposed. I sawed off a tiny red and green piece and hoped to swallow without tasting, but the sweet flavor lingered. “Mmmm. Delicious. Guess I’ll wash it down with this super dark chocolate milk you made.” I could see about one inch of syrup settled at the bottom like mud.
“We’ll go get the next course while you finish your pancakes.”
As soon as they closed my door, I scanned the room. How could I dispose of the rest? My sock drawer . . . nah, I’d have rainbow streaked socks. Jill’s jewelry box? Not a good idea. Under the bed wouldn’t work—Rex might get sick eating too much junk food. I mean “breakfast.” He was already drooling and waiting for me to toss him a bite.
They must have returned with the next course in two minutes. I fumbled with a napkin, wrapped some pancakes, and stuffed them in the back of my nightstand drawer where I keep library books and tissues. “Come in.”
“Here’s your cereal,” said Laura.
“Froot Loops gots lots of vi-uh-amins,” added Sandy. “And I poured it myself.”
“We’ll go get the last course ready.” Laura shut the door.
I was glad to hear the end was near. I mustered the courage to take one mouthful. Sugar and dye—the breakfast of champions. My stomach wasn’t ready for artificial garbage, so I poured it out the window. I hoped it wouldn’t poison any birds.
This time they charged in without knocking.
“Here’s your dessert,” said Sandy.
“Wow, I get dessert too?”
“We’re going to keep you company while you eat.”
They hopped on the bed and stared at me as I stared at the toasted Poptart.
“It got burnt on the corner where the sprinkles melted. I think that’s what made smoke come out.”
“I’m sure it tastes perfect. I like my food well-done.”
The first bite sent shivers down my neck. Sweet blueberry with frosting and sprinkles—who creates this junk? A ten year-old CEO? And worse yet, I bought this junk.
I ate every crumb of that purple Poptart and washed it down with a tall glass of ruby red Hi-C Punch. They smiled, so proud. I smiled and hugged them.
This was the worst and best breakfast I ever had—made from my daughters’ sweet hearts.