By Lori Clinch
We did not raise our four sons to be selfish, but we did raise them to be independent.
These days they can do their own laundry, pay their own bills and, if need be, bring home their chicken and fry it up in a pan.
Yet, there is a fine line between selfish and independent. I learned this recently, when all of our sons were home on Christmas break.
It all started when our Vernon, the most independent/selfish of them all, decided to make himself a breakfast burrito. Vernon’s breakfast burritos are to die for, famous, and those who are in the know relish them.
Vernon pan fries his bacon, hand tosses his eggs and can delight the crowd with the crispness of his hash browns. Then he tucks in the edges of the tortilla, rolls it all together, and grills it to perfection.
Vernon has been known to create this delightful meal for the fam from time to time, but as he stated that fateful day, he wasn’t sure his talents were fully appreciated.
Yet that wasn’t Vernon’s only bone of contention on this fine winter’s morn. Although we had been thoughtful enough to purchase all of the necessary breakfast burrito ingredients, we had forgotten one all-important item — fire sauce.
“So this is who we are, huh?” Vernon grumbled in his apron. “We’re the people who forget the fire sauce? Basically, this is how we roll now? We are a people without fire sauce?”
This sort of ungrateful grumbling might anger some mothers, but if Vernon has one redeeming quality it is this, the crankier he is, the funnier he becomes.
“Yessir,” he said as he moved his bacon around in the pan. “I could be making the best breakfast burrito known to man if I had the fire sauce, but do I have the fire sauce? Well, folks, that’s going to be a ‘No.’ ”
“Are you making me a breakfast burrito?” our Lawrence asked as he walked into the kitchen.
“Here’s the thing you don’t know about breakfast burritos, Bud,” Vernon said in response. “They are a lot of work and I don’t think you truly appreciated all of the work I put into them the last time.”
Was Vernon being selfish or trying to promote independence and gratitude? I have my theory, but you must decide for yourself.
“Besides,” Vernon continued with his lecture series titled, “I Suffer So,” “This breakfast is going to be ‘no good’ because Mom forgot the fire sauce. This is what she’s all about. This is our new thing. Basically, we are a people without fire sauce.”
Vernon completed the creation of his breakfast burrito and just as he was about to begin another rant he had a wonderful thought. His brothers had driven through the taco stand just the day before and surely fire sauce packets were still in the bag!
If only I hadn’t thrown it away.
Not to worry. The sauce was worth the effort! Vernon placed his completed breakfast burrito for one on the counter and ran out the door to retrieve the much-coveted fire sauce.
Just then our Huey, who is 6-4 and looks like a big bear, woke up from his long winter’s nap and walked into the kitchen. I saw the series of expressions on his face and read them like a fast-paced novel.
Hmmmm. Breakfast burrito. Must be Vernon’s. He’ll be angry if I eat it. Oh well.
As his older brother was Dumpster diving for the fire sauce, I watched Huey pick up the burrito and take three bites, devouring half of the burrito.
I would like to tell you I did something to intervene, but I did not. Instead I simply enjoyed this Christmas moment and waited for my Vernon to return and see what was left of his half-hour creation.
As if we were all planning to enjoy this meal with him, Vernon returned and exclaimed, “All is not lost, folks! You see, while people appreciate the effort that goes into the breakfast burrito, they don’t understand the importance of all of the ingredients. Basically, we now have the fire sauce and all is well.”
It was at the completion of that sentence that Vernon looked down at the labor of his love and saw that half of it was missing.
“This is what we are?” he asked as he looked at his younger brother. “Basically, this is what we have become?”
“Oh well,” I said with a smile. “At least we are no longer ‘A people without the fire sauce.’ ”
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.