When it comes to my kids, this father’s toast.
The local grocery store’s bakery has the best toasting bread I’ve ever had, but it’s become even more than that.
Made from scratch daily, sliced thin, get-it-before-it’s gone, this bread doesn’t appear to be any different from bread you’d find in any bakery anywhere across the USA. But it is. Toasted, this bread is light, flakey and, with a dab or two too much butter, mouthwatering. And I tend to use even a little more than a little too much butter.
One morning my 15-year-old daughter asked for a bite. She swooned.
“Soooooo good,” she said. “That is so tasty! How do you do that?” she asked. “It’s incredible. It never tastes that good when I make it….”
“All you have to do is add a little more butter than you think,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, “I’ve done that, but it never tastes as good as yours. Would you please make me some? Please?”
I’ve been buttered up before; I saw the nature of the plea for what it was right away. Even so–
“Sure,” I replied, “happy to.” I dropped a couple of slices into the toaster.
She laid it on thick every day after that. “OMG, Dad, that is sooooo yummy. You are the best toast-maker ever! I wish mine tasted like that… Can you make me a couple of slices?”
Pretty soon she was hollering down the stairs every morning. “DAD, CAN YOU PUT SOME BREAD DOWN FOR ME?”
A couple of days of that and I started hollering up, instead. “HONEY, DO YOU WANT TOAST THIS MORNING?”
So every day breakfast is waiting when she comes down.
Used? Manipulated? Bamboozled?
We chat while she eats. What we both have going that day. What she’s looking forward to later in the week. What’s got her off kilter at the moment. Sometimes she shows me a funny meme or hilarious TikTok. Other times she’s too busy with Snaps to pay me any attention. That’s OK, too; I sit quietly and take in her presence.
She’s my youngest. In just a few precious years she’ll be off to college. Then life. How many more times am I going to have those few special minutes with her? With any of my three kids? The opportunities are dwindling. Every school-day morning is another countdown click.
They say flattery will get you nowhere, but we all know flattering one’s father will almost always get you somewhere, and playing on the old man’s sentimentality will always get you almost anywhere.
My daughter’s sharp.
She might have been jerking my chain that first time or two, but I doubt it took her long to grasp that what started as a harmless schmooze to get me to do something became my way of stealing a little more time with her. Time that, once gone, I’ll never get back.
And now – as she’s no doubt fully aware – the breakfast table has turned.
Over-buttered toast is now her daily gift to me.
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