Sweets Has A New Smile

Bud’s bus leaves at 8:20 a.m.
Sweets‘ school assembles at 8:54.

As the school year progresses, I’m learning that thirty-four minutes can be an expanse of time or a short interval.

Mornings have a certain flow to them. I grind the coffee beans at 6:45. The sound invariably wakes my son. A weary voice calls. “Dad?” In his life coffee doesn’t yet have magical qualities. It’s the alarm he hears. Then again, given how hard he sleeps, maybe it does.

When I was eleven, my Dad would stand at my door and call my name. After five minutes that felt like seconds, he knock and call again. If more time passed and I didn’t get up, he’d come into my room, place his hand on my shoulder and shake me lightly. If that didn’t work, my mom would take over and I would feel her hand. I would hear her voice and begin my day.

These days I wake to the chorus of U2’s “Beautiful Day.” It’s a small reminder of what lies ahead, regardless of the weather. When I’m getting enough sleep, I rise before the alarm goes off. Sometimes I’m early enough to be my own snooze button. I’ll roll over and tell myself to take an extra ten minutes or twenty. Then I’ll wake up a second time, before the alarm sounds. If I’m over-tired or just up too late, I try to adjust and set the alarm for a later time. That’s usually an accident in process. I’ve set the alarm for 7 p.m. instead of a.m. or changed it to one in the afternoon. I don’t know how that happens, well I do, but it’s all fuzzy in my head. That’s the point. When that happens the morning is an interesting scramble.

Sweets wakes up when she’s ready. No alarm necessary. She seems to sleep as long as she needs. That’s usually about ten and a half hours. It’s four more than I am usually able.

She’s a cold breakfast girl to Bud’s hot breakfast boy. When she wakes, her head is clear. She doesn’t need much time to wash, eat or dress. That’s good. The thirty-four minutes is a nice buffer to have in the morning.

Making coffee precedes Bud’s hot breakfast. I love the way fresh coffee foams in the press like Coca Cola hitting ice cream. The brew swells and slowly recedes.

There are generally four keys to a great cup. Most important are the beans themselves. Quality matters. Freshness too. Coffee stales quickly and keeping it in the fridge only exposes it to the flavors there. The beans absorb them the way baking soda does. I don’t like flavored coffee. A refrigerated blend sits in my imagination alongside the Berties Botts Every Flavored Beans that Harry Potter hopes he never has to taste.

The grind is determined by the brewing method you’re going to use. And you have to use enough coffee. Two good tablespoons for every six ounces of water is the industry standard. That’s twice what most folks use. Good tasting water is key also. After all, it’s 98% of the cup! I’ll take my first sips while making breakfast and finish the cup as I make their lunches.

After breakfast the requisite reminders follow. Ten minutes until we have to leave. Don’t forget to put your homework in your folders. Is your bag packed? Did you brush your teeth? Deoderize? Where are your socks? You need socks. No, it’s too cold to wear that without a t-shirt. Aren’t you wearing shoes today? Yes, you’re wearing a coat. There’s a lot of eye rolling along the way. There’s tension, sometimes a joke or two and by the time we’re in the car, some ease on all sides. That is unless we forget something, or the unexpected happens.

This morning while Sweets was brushing her teeth a loose tooth came out. One of her front teeth. There was a little blood and more surprise. We used all of the buffer before she headed to school, with a new smile.

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