“Cornflakes again, Daddy!” Hayden stuck out his tongue, scooped up a spoonful of cornflakes slop and let it drain off the spoon into the bowl.
“I thought you children loved cornflakes.” Horace leaned against the kitchen counter, coffee mug in hand.
“Yes, Daddy. But everyday? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday . . . and then today again?” Hayden complained, hand on his jaw. “May I boil an egg, Daddy?”
“You can boil egg?”
“Since I was little,” Hayden answered, face contorted because his father should’ve known this.
“Let me see what you can do nuh.”
“Yay!” Janine, Joshua and Hunter cheered, pushing their bowls of soggy flakes to the centre of the breakfast table.
Hayden retrieved a pot from a bottom cupboard, positioned it in the sink and filled it half way with water. He gingerly dropped eight eggs in. “Daddy, you want eggs?”
“No, I’m fine,” Horace declined. Truth be told, he wasn’t fine. His 11 year old lifting a heavy pot from a sink—albeit with both hands—to a front burner on a stove and click, click, click, igniting fire under it was downright not fine.
“You guys want toast?” Hayden asked.
“Yes!” his siblings shouted in unison.
“I’ll get the butta.” Janine ran to the fridge.
“Hold it good,” Hayden cautioned as he pulled the knot to a hard-dough bread bag and dropped four slices in the toaster. “You guys want tea?”
“Yes!” his siblings chorused again.
“I want Milo,” Janine changed her mind.
“Me too.” Hunter changed his mind.
Joshua shoved a bar stool against the kitchen counter, where Horace was standing, stupefied. He climbed up, opened a cupboard, removed a box of Tetley tea, a pack of Milo and a tin of sweetened condensed milk, one at a time, and rested them on the counter.
Picking up the bar stool again, he held it against the front of his body, moved further down the counter and stood on it to reach for mugs and plates. Horace observed in silence. At their age, he wasn’t allowed near Mama’s kitchen, except to eat.
He watched Joshua take a can opener from a drawer and punch two triangles in the condensed-milk tin. He could hear Mama’s voice beating in his head: “Yuh going cut off di whole a yuh finga!”
He watched Joshua—nine years old—mixing hot Milo. He could hear Mama’s voice drumming in his ears: “You’re going to burn up yourself!”
“Janine, how much milk you want in yours?” Joshua yelled across the kitchen.
“Wait, wait, wait.” Janine ran over to him, gripped the edge of the counter with her ten little fingers and stretched up on tiptoes. “Let me see . . . I’ll tell you when to stop.”
Within half hour, the children were wolfing down soft-boiled eggs, buttered toast and hot tea while Horace munched on toast with his insipid coffee. He checked his watch. Miss Hya was seven minutes late. The traffic coming off the hill would be bumper to bumper, and he would be late for work.
But it didn’t matter at this point in time. Witnessing his children—with his own two eyes—delighting in a breakfast prepared with their own hands, was far more important.
The dad in him felt proud. The child in him wished his mother had taught him a thing or two; so he could’ve at least behaved like daddy-general, a man in charge, and reel off pointers to his flesh and blood about how to handle culinary matters.
But Mama hadn’t permitted him near her precious stove or kitchen. “Yuh going spoil it!” she would quarrel, hitting her palms together. Even boiled water he “going spoil”.
No wonder the thought of lighting a stove made his grown heart palpitate. Facing the embarrassment of failure or, worse, hearing Janet and his children have a good laugh at his expense wasn’t appetizing at all.
His cell phone vibrated against the table. He glanced at it and rolled his eyes.
“Who is it, Daddy?” Hunter asked, cheeks puffed up with egg and bread and legs swinging under the table.
“Phone company. You know these people always promoting some call plan or other,” he answered, staring at Mama’s number on the screen.
To be continued…
©Dionne Brown 2016
Image “Bakery” courtesy of Carlos Porto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net