You have to laugh at life. But sometimes, life laughs at you.
Several weeks ago, I was driving my son, Jackson, to school, trying to convince him to eat his bagel with cream cheese before we reached our final destination, where he’d get a more substantial breakfast. This had become such a routine, it struck me.
“Are you tired of bagels and cream cheese, buddy?” I asked.
Not wanting to offend me (or his mother who graciously makes the bagels and leaves them for us every morning), he said, “Sorta.”
“Tell you what,” I said. “It’s going to mean you have to get up earlier, but I’ll make you breakfast at home in the mornings, how does that sound? We can try that next week.”
Well, the first couple of days went off without a hitch. I can cook eggs and frozen waffles just as good as the next guy.
On the third day, it was a sausage, egg, and cheese croissant, courtesy of Jimmy Dean.
On my way to the kitchen, I had stopped in to wake Jackson up. That would give him time to rally out of bed. I had even seen it work the first two mornings. But on this morning, the food was on the table, but I had not heard a whisper from upstairs.
“C’mon, Jackson.” I called up the stairs. “Get down here for breakfast before the dogs get it. I have to get ready for work.”
With that, I headed to my room to get dressed, assuming all would go as planned.
Life, however, had a different plan.
Buckling my belt, I realized I hadn’t heard anything from Jackson. I headed toward his room and a view of the kitchen, calling “Eating your breakfast, buddy?”
Someone was eating his breakfast alright.
Jake, our 7 month-old puppy.
With his paws on Jackson’s chair at the table and his neck stretched as far as he could stretch, he had managed to scarf down every last crumb.
Jackson was still in bed.
I’m not prone to moments of rage, but I can be bent by the perfect storm. And on this day, at this particular moment, the pieces all came together. And I guess I fell apart.
“JACKSON!” I yelled. “Your dog just ate your breakfast. I TOLD YOU to get down there before the dogs got it. Now, get out of bed. And YOU are going to make your own breakfast.”
Then a terrible thought crossed my mind, “What exactly would a Jimmy Dean Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Croissant do to the inner workings of a 7-month old puppy?”
It couldn’t be good. I had to get the dog into his crate. Now.
But puppies can sense emotion, especially when you are chasing them into a corner with fists clenched and the veins on your temples and forehead pulsing.
And they’re fast. So he led me on a lap around the downstairs, up the stairs, and into the master bedroom. I closed the door. He cowered in the corner.
I scooped him up as he squirmed a bit, held him tight, and walked him down the hallway and down the stairs to his crate.
By this time, Jackson was up, dressed, and making his breakfast. What did he choose to make, you ask?
A bagel with cream cheese.
It was at this moment that the humor of the morning’s events hit me. I struggled to hold back a chuckle. I forced myself to keep the angry dad look on my face, but inside me the rage had melted. All of this started with a bagel. And it had come right back to a bagel. The perfect circle of it all brought me an unexpected feeling of peace.
“Take your bagel and get in the car,” I said. “I left my watch upstairs.” As Jackson headed to the door, I stayed back, took a deep breath, smiled and walked over to the dog in the crate. I reached through the wire frame, pet him and said, “How was that breakfast?”
I went upstairs to get my watch. I was laughing at life, and now it was time for life to laugh at me.
As I turned the corner at the top of the stairs, I took a step and slipped, steadied myself with the banister and looked down. Evidently, I had squeezed Jake a little too hard on his way to the crate. He had dropped a couple of land mines on his way.
I cleaned up the mess, picked up my watch off my bedside table, and headed to the car–much, much wiser.
“How’s that bagel, Jackson? Some morning, huh?”
Image credit: Matt DeTurck
Jim Denny is the winner of numerous awards for things like writing, communications planning and website development. He has managed multi-million-dollar marketing budgets for some of the largest companies in the Financial Services industry in his nearly 20 years in communications and marketing.
None of which really impresses his 10-year-old son, Jackson.
In his 10 years as a father, Jim has found that little boys are more impressed by how far you can throw a football, how fast you can run and how loud you can burp. Despite his own deficiencies in all of those areas, Jim hopes to leave a lasting impression on Jackson by being the best dad he can be.