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Cat’s in the Cradle

Remember when your mom used to get that look in her eye like a fortune teller with a chip on her shoulder and say, “One of these days, you’re going to have a kid JUST LIKE YOU!”? I believed she could make it happen because my mom prayed regularly and was tight with God.

I don’t know what she was talking about. So far, James, my eldest, only looks like me. Vincent, my nine-year old, looks like his father and is my opposite.

Vincent is a morning person. I am not. He talks and talks and talks upon rising. I cannot. No questions or answers before coffee.

A lover of cause and effect, the morning, when I am still in a pre-caffeinated haze, is Vincent’s favorite time of day. He can pick on me all he wants and I am completely defenseless.

For still being asleep, I get a few mom points for managing to con him into cooking his specialty. Scrambled eggs. Somebody has to feed him. I can barely measure the grounds.

He cracked open five eggs, put the shells in the compost bucket and the egg carton back in the fridge.

He’s an aggressive stirrer, something we’re fine-tuning still. Inevitably the foul, sulfuric aroma of eggs-on-the-burner assaults my nostrils and permeates the house long after he has gone to school. But I can’t complain, really. He’s making breakfast.

In no time, he carries two bowls with forks over to the table where I’m sitting at the computer, waiting like a Pavlovian dog for the coffee maker beep so I can get my fix. Vincent sets the brown bowl next to me, with a fork. The orange bowl is for him. He says, “Chow down!” I detect a suppressed laugh.

I am distracted, reading emails. He is focused, watching, waiting for me to notice. The words “chow down” imply that there is a feast set before me. But the stifled laugh wiggles its way into my foggy brain and breaks my eye-lock on the computer.

He’s standing next to the bowls, an expectant waiter.

“Hey!” I yell, looking into my bowl and seeing two bites if I take small forkfuls, while in his bowl is a man-sized portion.

I don’t pick up the orange bowl and divide them evenly. I let him punk his mom. He lives for that.

And as I washed the bowls it occurred to me:

He’d grown up just like me.

My boy was just like me.


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