Weekend Eggs

I have to be at work at 6 am (5 am if I'm out on site somewhere), so I don't get to make breakfast during the week. To assuage my guilt about this, on the weekends I do something which I'd probably never do under other circumstances: I cook eggs by individual request.

Dan likes his eggs over-easy, which require a clean pan for proper flipping, so I start with him. The eggs should be cooked sunny-side up until the white is almost all the way cooked, then flipped, cooked for as long as it takes me to type this sentence, then slid onto a plate. As I do for anything I cook for Dan, I add twice the salt and 3x the normal human tolerance for black pepper. To this, he will also add Tabasco.

Miss L is next. She prefers her eggs scrambled, slightly undercooked and still mushy. The eggs should be cooked with salt and garlic powder, but no pepper. After cooking, a little shredded cheese should be sprinkled on top. Ideally, Colby Jack, but cheddar is also acceptable. Don't make the mistake of mixing the cheese in with the eggs and cooking it all together. This is not at all the same. As with most other food items, eggs must be eaten with ketchup.

Miss G likes her eggs scrambled also, but with sausage mixed in. The sausage links (already cooked) should be cut up into little pieces, mixed in with the eggs, then all cooked together in a big ol' sloppy mess. Salt or pepper or both or neither makes no difference whatsoever. She will also eat her eggs hard-boiled, but only the white parts; the yolks get fed to the dogs. Eggs eaten like this require salt and pepper on every bite. She will also eat sausage-less scrambled eggs without complaint.

In all cases, eggs should be eaten with sausage links and toast. Toast should be slathered with frosting-thick jam: apricot for Dan, strawberry for Miss L, and blackberry for Miss G. Everyone eats two sausage links, except Miss G, who will eat as many as are left unattended in the pan in addition to what's already mixed in with her eggs.

This is all ridiculously impractical, and has quadrupled the time I spend in the kitchen on Saturday and Sunday mornings. On the other hand, it's my only really indulgent parenting concession. As a rule, I don't believe in coddling kids; my number one parenting goal is to raise these kids to be adaptable and self-sufficient. I think mealtimes are one of the best places to teach these things. Don't like dinner? That's fine; I won't make anyone eat against their will. Instead, I encourage them to find their own solution. That may be to make their own dinner. Or, they may decide that mushrooms aren't so bad after all and eat what's in front of them. Or, they may choose to do nothing and instead sit there hungry and sulking. Whatever the result, it is one of their own making. They learn this way that are not powerless, that they have the ability to improve their circumstances by their own actions. At least, I hope that's what they're learning.

Miss G, raised like this from birth, goes with Option 2 most of the time. She eats what's in front of her, she loves vegetables, and rarely complains about anything, food least of all. She's a good sport about pretty much everything, never holds a grudge, and is always open to new adventures. My stepdaughter Miss L, on the other hand, is product of a more pampered childhood. She is resistant to meeting new people and trying new things. She orders grilled cheese at every restaurant and eats ketchup at every meal; when faced with a dinner she doesn't like, she tends toward Option 3.

It's hard to start teaching the idea of personal accountability mid-childhood and convince anyone it's a good idea. To Miss L, it just seems like lots of rules: take your own plates to the sink… fold your own laundry… take responsibility for your own belongings as well as your own actions. But Miss G has learned that accepting more responsibility results in being trusted with more freedoms, something Miss L has not yet grasped, even after 4 years together. It's the hardest part of step-parenting, being vilified for just… parenting. I just keep raising Miss L the way I raise Miss G and hope someday she'll be able to put me in context.

However. For weekend eggs, the complications of our relationships can be set aside, and the greater philosophical aspects of breakfast rules are suspended. The weekday restrictions-- with all the rules brought about by school and homework and swim team and piano practice and bedtimes-- are limiting enough. Weekends are for fun, for sleeping in and playing outside, and for eggs cooked however you want.


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