Make mine a tall stack please

Make_mine_a_tall_stackI enjoy reliving my childhood through the eyes of my kids. The things I recall most about my childhood were not the times we did things out of the ordinary, it was the routines. I found an amazing amount of security in the day to day rhythm to our family life. Mornings were always filled with my brother and me wanting MORE sleep and being slow to get up. We’d hear mom yell from down stairs, “Get up, it’s time to get up!” We either moaned and ignored her or yelled something foul in an effort to ward her off, neither worked of course. The final volley from mom was always “Get up…:::a pause, then:::: GET UP, GET UP, GET UPPPPPPP!!!!!” She was relentless. On occasion mom would get fed up and wouldn’t wake us up. The school bus pulling up to the stop in front of the house was like an air raid siren to me. It would jerk me out of my morning slumber faster than mom ever could. Oddly I would always protest to my mom about NOT waking me up at a time like that. The routine was missed when it ceased, but while it was there, it was taken for granted.

Another routine was dinner at the table. Some of the happiest memories for me were made at our dinner table. We all talked, each talking over the other until mom or dad would yell they couldn’t hear themselves think, or coaching us, “…one at a time, it’s only polite!” We engaged in discussions about current events or things going on with friends. We could ask all sorts of questions and dad could never escape mom’s “maybe you should answer this one” look. At various times our routines would be changed, especially as teenagers. We didn’t eat together as a family much and each of us kids would complain saying how important to eat together. We always tried to sound very mature when expressing this too.

One summer about 12 years ago, I took my daughter, Gina, to an RV sales lot and leisurely explored each fancy travel trailer and 5th wheel on display. I never let on to the sales staff I wasn’t really a buyer. In fact, that was part of the fun for us, never letting on we were merely window shopping. Gina thought that was high times! We did that every year in the summer until she didn’t come up as often. One summer, both kids were up together, Chris was old enough to climb around and explore like any other five year old on the planet does without thinking. Near the end of the summer vacation, she pipes up, “Hey, we haven’t gone to check out the RV’s! When are we gonna go?” You could have knocked me over with a feather! Without even realizing it, I created a routine she expected we’d still do on her visits to see me even though she hadn’t been up in the summers for a bit.

Last week the cupboards were a bit bare in my pantry, but in the back was an unopened box of pancake mix. Just two weeks earlier I’d taken Chris to the local IHOP on a Sunday morning, he really enjoyed the pancakes so when I saw the box in my pantry I thought it was a good idea to whip some up. He didn’t get terribly excited about them. This morning I noticed the pancake mix on the counter and announced I was making them again, they are, after all so easy and quick to make in the morning. This time Chris yelled out his approval and even came in to the kitchen to watch. When I set off the smoke alarm while making them (…look, I’m not much of a cook, ok!) Chris even fanned the alarm so it would stop its annoying alert. That was exciting for him, he reveled in the drama of dad making pancakes.

You can’t choose the things your kids will find memorable, they choose you. Next weekend, probably Sunday morning, I’m breaking out the pancakes again. I think Chris and I have a routine that suits us, perhaps I won’t set off the smoke alarm next time. Chris takes his as a tall stack, just like I did at his age. No stack was ever too tall for me to handle as long as I had enough napkins.

I wonder if he will make pancakes for his kids some day because of these memories.

Thanks for reading this far.

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5 comments for “Make mine a tall stack please

  1. lori kennedy
    August 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I have so many special memories of my childhood,most were centered around big family dinners and celebrations.There was no tv…unless an important hockey game was on…lots of music and dancing and homemade dessert. I find myself folllowing the same path that was set for me. I have made traditions that my whole family looks forward to each year. I jokingly said at the last family birthday”i think i’ll cancel thanksgiving dinner,it’s too much trouble”the looks and responses were those of complete horror and disbelief. I love it,knowing we have all created these memories,with alot of love,but most of all,effort. Effort is what makes life the beautiful thing that it is.So many people give up and never have those special times.We are so fortunate to have had our parents set the example that we,our kids,and their kids will carry on through out the years.Thanks Tim,for reminding me how blessed we really are.xo

  2. Sandy B
    July 16, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    P.S. those photos of your kids are priceless!

  3. Sandy B
    July 16, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I didn't relive my childhood through my kids; I got to experience it for the first time. Partly because my parents were old when I was born and because I grew up overseas, I missed out on a lot. For that reason I took my kids to every amusement park, zoo and petting zoo I could find; if there was a festival of any sort, we were there. Experiencing their excitement and delight was overwhelmingly wonderful; I got to be a kid and experience it all with them – for the very first time!
    You're a terrific dad, Tim. Your kids are very, very lucky.

  4. Sunny Bee
    July 16, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    HE WILL DEFINITELY MAKE HIS KIDS PANCAKES, AND HE WILL DEFINITELY THINK BACK TO WHEN YOU MADE THEM FOR HIM…sweet!

  5. Rose J.
    July 16, 2007 at 10:14 am

    This is all so true about the routines. Hunter likes to check the mail everyday for Mommy. When the twins were little before they fell asleep, we used to make up stories for them to dream about–I would tell the twins, okay, "what will you dream about tonight?" We would make up nice "dream stories." Children do find comfort and security with routines, and it is so wonderful when those routines turn out to be wonderful memories for them!

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