When I first heard this was Hot Breakfast Month, because if the way my mind works, I thought of “bow-chicka-bow-bow” with naked eggs on a bed and swimsuit model bacon, totally ripped scones in tasteful black and white Herb Ritts style photos in provocative poses. But then I realized that we were talking about the soothing restorative effects of oatmeal with milk and brown sugar, or eggs and bacon with a side of sourdough toast slathered in butter and strawberry jam. Maybe even pancakes with maple syrup.

So now that we are all suitably hungry, it makes me recall the times my father would get up at dark o’ clock in the morning and prepare breakfast for my brothers and I before we went to school. I heard him say once that it was a once in a while treat for his father to have cooked them breakfast on the weekends. My grandfather would begin right when he woke up at four-thirty, which he did without an alarm due to his decades in the navy. Also, due to that schedule, he would expect his sons to be up for breakfast at about six, which was not always an easy thing for them to achieve on a weekend.

In any case, my father would cook a huge banquet for three groggy boys who mostly awoke as late as humanly possible and would usually barely make it to class before the bell sounded. Personally, at that time of the morning, I would roll out of bed, already dressed in the clothes in which I was going to attend school. I took showers at night because I wanted to sleep as long as I could. I never had an easy time getting to sleep and would sometimes toss and turn until two or three AM before dropping off and awakening in a stupor after my alarm went off across the room, because I had learned that having it near me would just be temptation to turn it off without even coming close to awakening.

Every so often, I would shamble into the living room, and I would see the dining room table filled with food, and one or more of my brothers already seated and eating. There would always be poached eggs (which would be a little overcooked from reheating,); toast, buttered and awaiting a choice of two or three different types of jam on the table; steel cut Scottish oatmeal, with brown sugar and cream sitting next to it; French toast and syrup; thick cut bacon and sausage patties; and both milk and fresh squeezed orange juice in front of each place setting.

It was a sumptuous feast, and it showed great care and effort. There was only one problem for me. I never wanted anything more than maybe cereal and milk, if that, for breakfast. I have evolved a bit as I have aged, and now I want coffee, and maybe a couple of eggs and a piece of toast for breakfast. I always appreciated the effort, but it did sort of seem that it was made for both our benefit, and for his own image of what he thought a morning breakfast should be.

During summers as a child, he had spent time on my great-grandmother’s farm, where a very hearty breakfast, starting with eggs fried in the grease from the bacon and sausage, oatmeal and pancakes, because the work on the farm was hard and burned many calories before lunch. But we were going to sit in a chair and possibly pay attention in school. I was rarely hungry in the morning, but I tried to make a good show of it, I would usually finish the beverages and the eggs, some bacon, and a toast triangle or two. But the oatmeal was a bridge too far. Not only was I more of a cream of wheat type of guy, I usually would eat that as a midnight snack, because it would settle in to my stomach and start to make me drowsy even before I finished the bowl.

It was surprising, the effect that my never eating the oats had on my father. He would sometimes say nothing, but sometimes he would get visibly angry and scrape it roughly into the sink with an inscrutable expression on his face. I knew he himself loved oatmeal, and it made me realize that he had difficulty understanding why I wouldn’t. This was not totally unexpected, because as you may have noticed, I have made no mention of his ever asking what it was we would have wanted to eat for breakfast. But I realized that the effort was made from love. Both love for us, and a need to feel that he deserved that love.

He made us the nicest hot breakfast that he could imagine, and if it matched much more closely his image of what that was than it did mine, it did not diminish the reasoning and motivation behind the action. I love him for that, and I also regret that I could never find a way to let him know that Grape-Nuts and toast would have been fine in any case.

It also made me make sure to notice, that while two of my sons craved homemade egg sandwiches for breakfast and would finish every bite in minutes, the third wanted English muffins with jam and no butter.

Tony Moir is a cyborg who holds world records in synchronized luge and panda steeplechase. Or maybe he isn’t. But he lives in San Francisco with his lovely wife and three outstanding sons.

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