Thursday, July 10, 2014
At 9:50 my older son comes in the bedroom and dispassionately tosses the Times Union to me on the bed. I pretend to be waking up and say thanks. Five minutes later, I run to the bathroom to wash my face. I am always aware of the surrounding sounds and I fear that I hear footsteps on the stairs. I run out of the bathroom and enter my bedroom by the north entrance and leap into bed under the covers. False alarm, no one enters but I do hear a solid thud against the door. Ah - it must be Hunter, the dog, who I then hear whimpering to be let in.
Ten minutes later my younger son enters wearing a Jack Sparrow wig, an eye patch and a puffy white shirt as a cape. ( apparently he has raided the dress up box.) He is accompanied by the dog, who is only too happy to jump on the bed. He addresses me, “Hello dearie” with a crone like accent. Thrown off by his entire appearance, I feign sleepiness and then he is gone but leaves behind the wig, the puffy white cape, the eye patch and the dog.
I’m sure you have guessed by now, that it is mother’s day and am awaiting my annual mother’s day “breakfast in bed.” Usually, the breakfast in bed recipient rarely sees anyone else before the appointed moment of the rest of the family kicking the door open and singing “Happy Mother’s Day “ or “Father’s Day “ or Happy Birthday.” Today has been a little different, it is later than usual, I’ve had a number of encounters with my children and I even snuck out of the house earlier to walk the dog, buy the Times and decaf. Normally the recipient is sequestered in their bedroom and left to wonder what is going on and when.
Shortly, I hear the familiar multiple steps on the stairs, the clatter of dishes and the requisite whispering and shhhing that precedes the acclaimed entrance. Quickly, I make use of the props that my son left, by trying to put the wig on the dog and donning the eyepatch myself. I lay down just in time and I am rewarded by the kicking in of the door and my two sons and husband singing “Happy Mother’s Day.” I never really convinced the dog to wear the wig, but when they see the eye patch I am wearing they are delighted. I was not asleep and they know I was not asleep but I pretend to just wake-up anyway. It is a mutual charade that we indulge in.
My family has prepared homemade gluten-free blueberry muffins, gluten-free pancakes, bacon, juice and vanilla chai tea. The tray they have presented is adorned with flowers. As soon as I view the tray, my younger son starts presenting the gifts. He is not one to wait. The next twenty minutes is a delightful chaos of good food, excellent presents, my older son being annoyed by my younger son and all three of us trying to keep my younger son from spilling my breakfast as he scampers around the room.
With a few variations, this is somewhat typical of our family breakfast in bed tradition. The appearance of my son with the dog and my eye patch was unusual but the false alarms, the lack of stealth on the final approach and pretend slumber are all part of the routine.
Now that the kids are older, they definitely can participate in the preparation of the breakfast. In earlier days, one parent had all they could do to get up the steps with the kids and tray. One breakfast in bed for Father’s Day particularly stands out in my head when my youngest son was 19 months and my oldest son was 7. We lived in our Brooklyn brownstone and their were 20 steps between the ground floor and the bedroom floor where Johnny lay in waiting for his alleged surprise. I don’t remember two trips, but I do remember a baby on the hip, a tray in one hand and a barely 7 year old carrying all the gifts up the 20 stairs. The kids understood what was going on but it was more of a challenge to pull it off.
An updated version, is a 11 year old who loves to cook and a teenager who is woken up at the last minute to join the parade. Almost everything is left to the morning of including wrapping the gifts and running out for bacon or gluten free pancake mix if need be at the last minute. Usually the parent does most of the cooking, younger son wraps packages and does some cooking. Older teenage son is unpredictable, maybe helping with wrapping or cooking at best and at the very least grumpily arising at the last moment to join the parade that starts five feet down the hall from his door.
Our dog, Hunter, is happy to participate and joins the fun. He wants to be wherever we are and doing whatever we are doing. We have tried to attach presents to his collar but with little success. He usually shakes them off before the entourage enters the room.
Breakfast in bed is a tradition we carry out for all members of the house including any overnight guests who are spending their birthday with us. One time Johnny’s dad was in town for his birthday and as we served him breakfast in bed, he turned the tables on us. As we presented the breakfast tray, Grandpa Dave pulled down the covers to reveal the sheets tied around his neck like a bib. He informed us that he already had a napkin. As anything can happen to either the servers or the receivers of breakfast in bed, it is understandably one of the high lights of my year and a much loved tradition.
Diane Lachtrupp Martinez