My eyes open at the sound of someone’s feet on the kitchen floor. Mamas awaken at the softest of noises.
I hear the close of the refrigerator then cabinet doors. The coffee maker rumbles to life, and I know my son is up early, working on something special.
It’s time for me to get out of bed, but I dare not. It would be unkind to ruin his surprise.
Clinking of silverware on glass tells me breakfast will include jelly. Then my son comes in the room to ask a hypothetical question. “If” he wanted to make coffee, which he definitely isn’t doing right now, what button would he push. I provide the instructions, pretending I have no clue what he’s doing.
He leaves the room and I wait, and I keep listening, even though I’d rather be out of bed, and even though I don’t actually want breakfast. Choking down toast that I don’t want to eat Is a small price to pay for building his self-esteem.
While I wait, I wonder if he washed his hands. Probably not, but I won’t ask him. I’d rather risk E. Coli than damage his desire to serve others.
I wonder if he’s making a mess in the kitchen, but I fight the urge to intervene. A mess to clean is a small sacrifice for nourishing his servant’s heart.
I wonder if he might burn himself carrying the coffee, but I don’t go help him. The slight risk of a minor burn is preferable to bruising his fragile ego.
And when he comes back bringing coffee in one of my favorite mugs and toast with grape jelly (which was actually very good,) I act surprised and praise him for being so kind. I smile as if I’ve won the lottery. And the truth is, I have something even better. I have a child that loves me and wants to show it through acts of service. I have a child that, despite his many behavioral challenges, finds joy in making others happy.
So I’ll keep on pretending to be surprised by breakfast in bed, and that jelly toast is better than the best meal ever made, because the fact is, it’s about much more than breakfast. It’s an opportunity for my child to feel good about himself, and for me to tell him that I’m blessed to be his mother. And maybe, as he grows, his sense of self-worth will grow too, and maybe he’ll be able to approach every future task with the same sense of pride as his seven-year-old-self serving his mama breakfast in bed.
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