Since becoming a parent, the first words out of my mouth each morning, 9 times out of 10 are "just let me get my coffee first". In our small house, we have three different ways to brew a perfect cup; an espresso machine, a chemex, and a neglected but occasionally useful regular coffee pot that has been demoted to the basement. We're more likely to be out of toilet paper than out of half and half. Suffice it to say, we're coffee people. When my daughter was 18 months old, I wrote down a list of the words she could say. Mixed in with the standard "mama", "dada", "ball", and "hi" was "cackie". "Mama, cackie?", she'd ask as she banged around her kitchen set, presenting me with a tiny plastic tea cup. I'd accept it as graciously as one can accept something thrust directly into their face.
It wasn't long before she started to demand the real thing. And since many mornings, we spent home just the two of us, my ritual soon became our ritual. After the flurry of getting my son awake and to the bus on time, we'd retreat to the kitchen. She'd push a chair up to the counter as I'd pull down the espresso. At first, her chubby hand could only manage to land half the scoop of grounds in their intended location. I coached her on just how much maple syrup to add (we're Vermonters, after all), and how much half and half achieved the perfect hue. Then we made hers. From the shelf she painstakingly chose the right color tea cup and together we'd pour the milk and maple syrup. She'd turn the dial on the machine to "steam", and hold my hand as it sputtered and spit, warming her "cackie" just so.
I relished those mornings that we slowly started our day together. Now our weekdays are much more hectic as I head to work and she gets shuffled off to school. We save Saturday mornings for scooping and pouring and invite the boys to pick a cup and join us. It's a ritual I look forward to every week. Well, the part that comes after the guaranteed fight between the kids over who gets the blue cup.