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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bologna Cups and Vermin

     I found a rat in my boot this morning.
     This was not one of those nasty, filthy rats that crawl in through the attic, tear things up and chew through the electrical wiring before causing a house fire and burning the house to the foundation.  No, this was one of those nasty, filthy rats that the wife buys as a pet for the infant daughter, that is released into the "wilds" of the home, free to nest in my boots before finding its way into the attic and chewing through the electrical wiring so as to cause a house fire that burns the house to the foundation.  One of those kinds of rats.
Rat rod, as opposed to common rat. I would
much rather have preferred to find this in my
 boot instead.
     Being the patient, understanding father that I am, I suggested to the infant daughter that she return the rat to its cage before I step on it and send it to rat heaven.  Shaking the fresh rat crap out of my boot, I launched into a tirade directed mostly towards my loving bride.
     One of the long standing arguments that she and I, well, mostly I have had all revolves around the sordid morning routine and lack of a good, solid breakfast on school days.  The argument usually devolves into some variation of the following:
     "I sure wish you would get up with the kids in the morning.  They need to eat breakfast and they need supervision."
     "They do get breakfast, they eat it at school.  And, by laying here asleep, oblivious to anything the children do that doesn't constitute assault and battery, I am teaching them responsibility."
     This is usually the point where my jaw drops, and I am faced with the mental decision tree.  Path A is where I counter her twisted logic with real, live grown-up logic.  Path B is where I launch into an angry, sometimes mean-spirited, diatribe on the deterioration of traditional family values accompanied by the blurring of traditional family roles wherein I manage to insult and anger my soul mate to the point that she starts shoving vermin into my underwear drawer.  Path C is a quiet shaking of the head, a shrug of the shoulders, and some door-slamming as I lurch out of the house.  You will note the absence of Path D.  You know, the one where I feed and supervise the aforementioned children.  This is my story, get your own blog...
     After the 20th or 30th replay of this brief eruption, my wife and I did have an interesting conversation about why this was such a burning topic with me (aside of course from finding family pets nesting in my footwear).  As it turns out, this all stems from a rich, long cherished childhood memory of the year that my mom took an interest in breakfast.
     In the last year or so before I was just too cool to associate with my parents, or my younger siblings, Mom started the school year by making a hot breakfast for us every morning.  Day 1 was bologna cups.  A piece of bologna shoved into a muffin tin, with an egg inside the bologna.  My children can attest to my vile dislike of bologna, but still I looked forward to my bologna cups. Day 2 was a piece of toast with a circle lopped out of the middle by a cookie-cutter, with an egg placed in the hole.  One of my top 5 breakfast treats to be sure.  Day 3 was pancakes (long before they became known as pannycakes) topped with yogurt rather than syrup.  That was tasty goodness, nearly as good as Cheerios served over vanilla ice cream.
     As I thought more of the matter, I realized the brilliance of my Mom.  Here she took an extra 10 minutes out of sometimes hectic mornings to impose a little calm and stability.  I realized how her extra effort set a reassuring tone for the day, and made us feel like going off to school was something important, something to be valued and honored by the entire family.  I tried to think back over all the important life lessons that Mom surely must have taught us over a bologna cup, but the memories blur a bit under the rush of modern life.  For the benefit of my children, I searched hard for the poignant insights and the deeper meaning in Mom's breakfast routine, but without any luck.  Finally, my frustration mounting at missing the big picture, I asked my Mom about her motivations, her perspective, her goals in that wonderful year of school morning breakfasts.
     Mom paused a bit, looked around the room a bit, then finally admitted, "I just got sick and tired of you eating Cheerios and vanilla ice cream. If you wanted poignant insights and deeper meanings, you should have been a Jesuit."
     When I finally left the house this morning, the rat was safely stowed away.  I am pretty sure my daughter was eating Ramen noodles when I hit the door.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post. After a rather hectic week-my husband and I are both back in school, we also have a five year old and a three year old. Breakfast/mornings are my least favorite time of the day, I struggle daily to make it a positive experience. I can definitely identify with wanting to bring some sort of routine or normalcy to the day through breakfast. Great read and so fun! Thanks for sharing!