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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Awfuls and Pannycakes

     "Daddy, daddy! I want awfuls for breakfast!"
     It was early one Saturday morning, and I was standing in the middle of the kitchen, bleary eyed and lost in the haze of a caffeine free zone.  Awfuls?  What in the world was she saying? Awfuls? Surely she wasn't so jaded to her parents' cooking, at the age of three, that she had taken to calling breakfast awful.  Sure, Mom uses the smoke alarm as a kitchen timer, when it blares, dinner has reached the appropriate level of char.  With mom snoozing, and my breakfast specialty being cereal, there was little chance that I was going to burn the house down before noon. I continued to swim against the currents that normally kneel to the authority of caffeine.
     One of the male children of the tribe bounded into the kitchen, somehow freeing himself from the captivity of the Xbox 360. His eyes were darting back and forth like a junkie looking for a fix, small beads of sweat forming at his ragged hairline.  He looked quickly between the golden haired girl and myself, clearly on the edge of some momentous decision.
     In the whiniest voice he could find, he pleaded, "No daddy, not awfuls. We want pannycakes."  The three year old turned abruptly at her chair and took a swing at my heir apparent, missing him and nearly falling out of the chair and into the floor.  Awfuls and pannycakes?
     Finally it hit me.  Awfuls and pannycakes.  The children were placing their orders at the Dad Short Order Grill and Buffet.
     Pannycakes had been a long-running joke in our household.  The oldest son had years earlier requested pancakes by referring to them as pan-a-cakes.  With some good natured ribbing, pan-a-cakes had evolved into pannycakes.  Apparently, to three year old ears, waffles translated in awfuls.  Now we were making progress.  The three year old was able to communicate her desires, and she was not insulting my stunted kitchen skills. Now we just had to improve her upper-cut.
     Pannycakes were out of the question.  Not only was it too late in the morning, but I have never successfully cooked pannycakes without intense supervision.  That was pretty much always true about awfuls as well, at least until the motel chains started offering those cool, self-timing waffle irons with the pre-measured batter cups and the nifty rotating housing.  Those are mostly idiot proof.  Although there was that one time at the La Quinta in Joplin, Missouri, that nearly ended in a visit from the local fire department...
     Thanks to the modern food industry, frozen waffles are a golden elixir to a three year old.  Real live awfuls, straight out of the toaster! Awfuls all around! Awfuls for the small children, awfuls  for the older children.  Most importantly, awfuls for dear old Dad.  I might even endear myself to my lovely bride and make her some awfuls if she got out of bed before noon. For a moment, I thought about mailing frozen waffles to the older children who live elsewhere.  While they might see the humor, I decided the US Postal Service might not.
     Somewhere well into the third awful, it hit me. I love my children.  I really love breakfast. All of those wasted evenings spent trying to have a family meal together only to have them wind up like a daily version of the Festivus of Seinfeld fame.  Breakfast, especially on the weekends, is the time to exploit the fruits of parenthood.  The kids aren't running off to school or cutting their hair with scissors that are left out on the counter.  Dad isn't worried (at least as much) about paying the mortgage, finding a tie while racing out the door to court, or having a catastrophic stress induced fit because the cat crapped all over the freshly cleaned laundry.
     At the age of 41, and with 6 children on the roster, I should have figured this out already, but here we are.  In some ways, breakfast has already become a primary tool in the arsenal of parenthood, I just hadn't realized it at the time.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that breakfast had been a connecting point in so many ways.  It is a sacrosanct routine with my parents when we get to see each other.  One of my favorite memories involved my now deceased little brother and raw bacon.  As it turns out, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  So, settle in and enjoy future extra helpings of Awfuls and Pannycakes.


  1. I wish you would have sent us frozen awfuls in the mail!!!!! I love you, Daddy, and I'll email you some breakfast stories and what I learned from them...though they may not be as eloquently written as this is!

  2. I love it!!! I cant wait for Saturday morning! I agree with Emily, awfuls in the mail would have been an unforgettable moment!