I am not a morning person. I tried for years to change this fact about myself. When I realized that I couldn't change it, I developed ways to work with it.
One recent development was to have Simeon be "in charge" of breakfast. Since he turned eight, he can be trusted to operate the toaster without hazard and carry a gallon of milk. He serves breakfast to everyone while I take a shower and acclimate to the new day. This has worked beautifully for some months now.
Yesterday morning, however, Jeremy decided to take Simeon with him to the 7:00 am mass. I'd lost my morning chef, what was I to do?
At first, I thought maybe the other boys might just sleep in while I took my shower. No such luck. As I was heading toward the bathroom I met up with Alex (5).
"I'm hungry," he said.
"Well, Simeon is not here," I told him, "You can either wait for me to get out of the shower or...or (I hesitated) (I knew it wasn't really a viable option) (...But I didn't want to go downstairs and deal, unacclimated, with the chaos that is breakfast with four well rested boys and so I said it...) or you can be "in charge" of breakfast this morning.
"Me?" He asked, his eyes growing wide, "Really? I can?"
"Uuhh...sure," I said thinking the other boys might just all sleep in, Alex could serve himself, and I'd keep the shower short.
When I came out of the shower, however, I noticed that all the other boys had gone downstairs already. Even Nicholas had been taken from his crib. The sounds coming up the stairwell were in no way alarming, though, and I did not smell fire. I dressed myself and headed downstairs with measured apprehension...
Upon entering the dining room and kitchen area I saw that Jacob(4), Zachary(2) and Nicholas(1) were all seated with a bowl of dry oatmeal, milk, and brown sugar. They each had a slice of toast and were eating contentedly. There was a smell of vanilla extract in the air and Jacob was wearing Alex's night shirt. I found Alex, standing without a shirt by the toaster waiting for something.
"It's for you, Mama," he said proudly as an english muffin popped up (I've eaten an english muffin for breakfast every day for nearly two years now.)
"Why is Jacob wearing your shirt?" I asked him, wondering.
"Jacob was cold," he said, "and so I gave him it."
Ok, there was quite a bit of dry oatmeal on the floor, vanilla extract was spilled on the counter, and my english muffin had not been split but was toasted whole, but I didn't see any of those things.
All I saw was my little kindergartener stepping up to the plate. All I saw was that he understood, at five years of age, that authority carries responsibilities and often requires self sacrifice.(Heck, sometimes it requires the shirt off your back!) And all I saw was that he considered his service and sacrifice a great privilege.
For the rest of the day, the thought of my little shirtless Alex standing by the toaster warmed my heart and encouraged me to see my authority over these little ones, with all its responsibilities and sacrifices, as the privilege it truly is.