67. Waffles

67. Waffles

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap.

~Mitch Hedberg

“Mom? Ummmm, Mom?”

I roll over. In which direction? Away from my interrogating child.

He persists, “Really, Mom, you are going to want to hear this.”

Fairly certain that I am NOT going to want to hear what Max has to say (he and I have very different communication styles at 7:00 a.m.), I pull the covers over my head and attempt to hide.

“Max, unless there is a hippo tap dancing in our bathtub, I want fifteen more minutes of sleep.”

“Well, okay but…”

“No buts, Max. It’s early! It’s Saturday! I haven’t had any coffee yet! You should be sleeping in, too!” Nothing like pointing the Mom finger to get your day up and moving.

Max yells down the hallway to his brother. “She’s not getting up, Alex! Maybe there’s more spray stuff in the basement.”

Under my warm, cozy fortress of covers, I open one eye. Spray stuff?

Now, let me rewind. I vaguely remember being tapped on the shoulder at an ungodly hour by someone asking for breakfast. However, I am a gal who has some pretty trippy adventures in dreamland, so when the beautiful vase of flowers I was arranging started to talk to me, I was not alarmed. When that vase of flowers started speaking in a voice that eerily resembled the one my seven-year-old uses, I didn’t even bat one dreaming eyelash. It wasn’t until the icy cold hand of reality reached very rudely into my dream and yanked me quite forcefully into the present that I started to worry. Spray stuff? My attempt to enjoy a luxury most moms surrender upon childbirth was thwarted by spray stuff. I make a mental note to write a scathing letter to whoever made children such happy little morning people, and I ask Max with the kind of hesitation reserved for walking through a landmine, “Did you say ‘spray stuff,’ Max?”


Reluctantly, painfully, I pull the covers down from my head. I look to my right, and there is Max, wearing nothing but Spiderman undies and a smile.

“Hi, Mom.” He’s holding a near-empty bottle of Windex. I conclude, with much brilliance, this is the spray stuff of which he speaks. Not really wanting the answer to what I am about to ask, I realize it’s my parental duty to suck it up and do it anyway.

“Why are you holding a Windex bottle, Max?”

Max is a bright child. He knows in most cases how to properly handle a situation. He doesn’t always choose that option, but he clearly knows right from wrong. I can see the wheels spinning in his head, mulling over what to say. He makes his choice, and does what any respectable five-year old would do. He totally throws his brother under the bus.

“You gotta talk to Alex about that, Mom. This was HIS idea.” And with that, I am forced to get dressed and start my day.

I go downstairs, knowing I’m in for something, but not sure what. As I descend the stairs to my life, I notice that it’s strangely quiet except for the “shhht-shhht-shhht” sound of a spray bottle. I close my eyes and ask for patience. Deliver it immediately, please.

Alex is bent over, backside to me, spraying something on the couch. I close my eyes and change my original request. This time, I ask for patience, guidance, and the willpower not to flip my lid.

I have to give the kid credit: whatever he is trying to do, he is doing it with a crazy, focused passion. He didn’t even hear me come down the stairs. “Shhht-shhht-shhht” is all there is.

“Alex, can you tell me what you are doing?” I believe I will require a medal for my calmness this morning.

He turns around, bottle of 409 in his left hand, wad of paper towels in his right. He, too, wears nothing but his skivvies. I notice that my living room smells like an IHOP.

“Well, I made breakfast for me and Max. I made waffles, but the plates were too small, and we kinda got syrup on the couch.”

Okay, no big deal, I think. This is okay. I can handle this. A few drops of syrup are no big deal. Right?

Then I look at the floor. I think I might cry.

Two tiny plates and an EMPTY bottle of syrup reside there. Our kitten Roxie is perched in the middle, paws covered in syrup. Sensing that I am not at all happy, she looks up at me, and then takes her syrup-covered paws and bolts through the living room, the kitchen, up the stairs—you get the idea.

Shock is starting to set in. I look at the couch and realize it’s not just a drop of syrup that was spilled. It’s more like an entire maple tree exploded in our living room. And now, it’s not just syrup covering the couch; it’s syrup AND Windex AND Formula 409. Since the living room is overwhelming me, I decide to go to the kitchen to clear my head.

Roxie has come to a rest in the middle of the kitchen floor. At least she isn’t tracking syrup through the house anymore. But what I realize on further inspection is that she didn’t really come to a willful rest where she now sits—she is most likely STUCK there. I try to cross the kitchen, but my feet are sticking to the floor as if I am walking across flypaper made for humans.

I try to recite the serenity prayer in my head, but I can’t remember the words. Roxie intently tilts her pretty little head in the direction of the trash can, and I look to see why. There, in front of the can, is a nice-sized puddle of the goo that is covering my house… and it’s moving. I can see why she was so interested. Moving syrup? I need to contact the people who handle all those “Virgin Mary in the French toast” sightings. Moving closer to the “miracle moving puddle of syrup,” I come to the understanding that it’s not really the syrup that’s moving, but rather a bevy of ants now invading my house to take a swim in the sugary mess on the floor.

I turn and look behind me. There in the doorway to the kitchen are my two boys—dressed in underwear, covered in syrup, and holding household cleaners. If I had been mad, it dissolved in that moment. They were trying to handle the situation on their own. They were trying to be independent and make their own breakfast. They were ultimately trying their hand at spreading out their wings a bit. And, after all, isn’t that what being a parent is about? Giving our children roots so that they can grow wings? Granted, I need to tweak their culinary skills a bit, but, really, if you look closely, this was a pretty clear picture of them moving forward in being responsible for their actions.

I hug them both, grab some paper towels and my own bottle of cleaner, and together we tackle the mess. But while wiping up ants and sticky kitten paws, I realize there was a lesson for Mom in this morning’s events, too. When a vase of flowers asks you for breakfast, you’d best get up and make it.

~Jody A. James

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