When I was six years old my dad taught me the art of pancake making.
We would begin our Saturday morning with the Today Show. Back when Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were actually reporting news. The golden days. My dad would use the first commercial break as a chance to run to the kitchen, grind a fresh batch of Sumatra beans and brew himself the strongest pot of coffee, east of Seattle. Folgers was the ultimate sin in our house. Right below, Dunkin Donuts.
The house would soon begin to fill with the smell of coffee and my dad would begin to pull various ingredients from the fridge and cabinets. Meanwhile, at four foot five inches, I was attempting to pick up a kitchen chair, my Rugrats nightgown getting caught in my feet, and carry the oblong piece of furniture to the counter. When I finally reached my destination, I hoisted myself up onto the chair, tucked my white blonde hair behind my ears, and looked at all the essential ingredients placed before me: Bisquick, skim milk, brown eggs, because I didn’t even know white eggs existed until I was in middle school, sugar and vanilla. The good kind of vanilla, not that artificial crap.
My dad handed me the Kitchen Aid silver mixing bowl and together we measured, poured and stirred every ingredient until the batter resembled that familiar yellow color. I would then turn to my right to face the other counter, with a griddle already heating up. I sprayed Pam onto the black surface and the sizzle and pop meant it was time to pour. My dad grabbed the pancake spoon, just the largest spoon in the house, and began to pour four perfect circles of sweet batter. He then handed me the spatula and leaned in really close, uttering those magic words, “Not yet, you’ll know when they’re ready.” Bubbles formed around the edges and the smell of vanilla and milk quickly hit my nose and my dad nodded his head. I began to flip the pancakes, revealing their perfect golden brown exterior. This process continued and the ones I burnt or flipped too soon, I tossed to our dog, waiting patiently by my chair. Soon we had a pile of pancakes ready to eat. I ran upstairs, woke my mom and brother, and together the four of us partook in our Saturday morning tradition. (Which also included washing maple syrup out of my hair.)
My dad taught me many things, some things he didn’t even realize he did.
Like how to always smile at people, and never worry if the glass if half empty or full, but rather be too busy living life to the brim to not notice what you have and don’t have. That each day is full of moments and that sometimes it’s okay to spend those moments focusing on yourself, rather than others. That knowing how to play a sport won’t make you a better person, but being a good sport will. And that if you get the opportunity to travel, never pass it up.
My dad is undeniably the greatest person I have ever encountered and not because he taught me how to make pancakes, or let me skip English class in high school, when I wasn’t really sick. He dedicates his life to the people he loves and more importantly, does it selflessly. From the time I was born, he has slowly been placing the essential ingredients I have needed for life, right in front of me. Never over bearing or harsh, stepping in only when necessary, and reminding me before I jump, to wait until I am truly ready.
So here’s to all of you fearless fathers. For dedicating your lives to your children and for sacrificing your Saturday mornings. You are loved and admired more than you know and today we celebrate you.
Happy Father’s Day