Happiness Project: A nutritious breakfast

My life is a constant, weekly channel change between single adulthood and single parenthood. I don’t mean that I’m not a parent when my kids aren’t around, but let’s just say that the need to get out of the bed isn’t quite as immediate when there isn’t a seven-year-old staring me in the face at 6:30 a.m., beseeching me to allow worship at the Wii.

I’ve always been bad about breakfast. Given the choice between 20 minutes of sleep and 20 minutes of breakfast, nutrition has always taken a back seat.*

*Which in a preview for later will be likely be a future topic: the beauty of the nap and sleeping late.

But Saturdays with the kids at home is likely to be an experience in actual breakfast. Today, I groggily acquiesced to the Wii at the appointed way-too-early hour with the concession that I’d be staying in bed: “Keep the volume down, and for the love of God, don’t yell at the tv.”

A couple hours later, I woke wanting pancakes. First, I don’t even like pancakes that much. The kids do, but my desire to have pancakes usually is in a serious relationship with my desire to have coffee … mmmmm, the combo of the sweet cakes and bitter coffee …

During a normal weekday, I’d never do pancakes either – and I’m not even going to enter into a debate about whether a frozen version of said little dough splats is a legitimate version of the pancake. Making them in the way that would make them a non-Eggo violates the Dad-law of weekday breakfast:

The making of thy breakfast shall be speedy and the consumption, thereof, done in haste. Thou dost not desire yet another tardy slip, lest thy father be called to the board to answer for thy sins. 

But Saturdays are another story. Saturdays like this one give me a chance to enjoy fixing something for my kids. And as Ben has said, he likes my cooking, but sometimes it can be “funky.”

But really, what’s the point of having kids if you can’t experiment on them with foods you don’t really believe they will eat in the first place? Sausage chili … Lemon salmon … grilled fruit … M&M pancakes (okay, they all liked these, and any confection that includes chocolate).

The truth is I love cooking for my kids. For those who know me and know what I do for a living, I have a lot of things in my life that I can’t always see the fruits of my labor. I don’t complete something and see how great it looks and/or know what when it’s complete. In fact, sometimes success is measured when nothing gets done (which is even harder to explain to people or quantify).

Writing is kind of like that; you can write for yourself and get some therapeutic satisfaction from dealing with your obsession with sad cats. But we write also because we want to say something … to someone.

Cooking is the culinary equivalent. I cook as a way of showing love and affection to my family. It’s an act of service. Today, I made apple-walnut pancakes. I was not surprised when Ben pleaded for me to leave the nuts out of his (what does this world have against the noble nut?).

We ate the breakfast, without the weekday drilling to hurry up and move on to tooth-brushing, or threats of various varieties. Instead today, we watched PBS and used way too much syrup. Dad had multiple cups of coffee. And now, we’re hanging out. We aren’t running to the next thing … yet. It’s a time to be together.

With my oldest (who is gone on a school trip), I see now how times to be together are fleeting. Chances to sit and have a meal together – just the two of us – don’t happen every day. Lives take over. But there is always Saturday morning, or Sunday lunch … or whenever.

As I finish this, Ben has come over and sat next to Betsy. They are leaning against each other, as sweet as they can be. I know that in a few minutes the kid armistice could be as yesterday as the Hanson’s.

I’d like to think it had something to do with being … a part of a nutritious breakfast … that’s good for a daddy’s heart.

If you haven’t already, visit some of the other great people who have taken the happiness challenge … Here are links to their blogs:


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