Many motels in the United States offer motorists a free breakfast with each night's stay. The managers of a Comfort Inn in Florida provided a delicious example of this morning fare during my recent trip to their establishment. Their generous display of crispy bacon, fruitful yogurts and moist bagels were ready at 6 a.m. sharp for the convenience of those who needed to get back on the road quickly. As an early riser, I witnessed the steady stream of eye-rubbing, arm-yawning folks venturing into the lobby, anxiously looking for a fresh cup of Joe. Apparently those single-serving drip machines in each guest room didn't measure up to the smell of freshly brewed Arabica beans at the entrance to the dining area.
The various liquid dispensers, juice machines and Sterno-warmers presented easy access to the hearty appetites of all the travelers except for one. A bold 8-year-old iPad-toting youngster was determined to conquer the waffle-making appliance, and to do so without any help from his dad. Standing close by, the towering, stocky father watched carefully as his son, whose head and neck barely rose above the height of the serving table, struggled to open the plastic pod of batter destined to be poured on to that hot iron mechanism. After several unsuccessful attempts, the boy reluctantly handed off the mixture to his dad to complete the ritual.
The child's desperate attempt to establish his independence only served to remind him, once again, that he still wasn't old enough, or tall enough, or strong enough to face the world on his own. God seemed intent upon proving to him that the time for parental detachment hadn't arrived quite yet. He still needed his daddy for food to grow, wisdom to know and caring to show that no matter how far apart they might be separated in the future, his father would be there for support, guidance and love.
The two ate their meal in silence at a corner table. The boy poured too much syrup into the crusty creases of his sourdough as if to punish the food that prevented him from passing the culinary test. The father drank caffeine and occasionally glanced at his son over the top of the newspaper he was reading, shook his head and smiled. He knew that eventually his offspring would master the challenges of life and pass on the patience needed for paternity to his son and grandson and so on. But for the time being, the boy still needed his dad.
Happy Father's Day to all the strong and caring giants in our lives who can also cook a mouth-watering waffle.
For Holy Homework: On at least one occasion this month approach any father you know and thank him for being a great dad.
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