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Growing Pains | August, 2013

My 12-year-old son woke up at my eye level today.

This made him obnoxiously giddy.

"We're the same height!" he cried, hopping around, landing on my bare feet twice.

Note: He still plays with LEGOs. Also: I pay the bills. Also: I'm the mom.

But this morning I went with it, because most of the time he won't speak to me beyond something that sounds like eyeuhnuh, which I think means "I don't know," but I'm not sure because if I press him on it he runs to his bedroom.

Usually, I make breakfast alone. It's easier. But this day, to celebrate his new height, I let my eye-to-eye child join me elbow-to-elbow at the stove. It was his suggestion—an effort, I believe, to demonstrate to both of us his skills at such an adult task.

For 15 minutes, everything hummed along. Over several frying pans, we cooked hash browns, bacon and eggs. And though he broke shells into the scrambled eggs, he methodically fished them all out with a fork. His eggs were fluffy, perfectly cooked and, due to the tablespoon of bacon fat he'd added, more delicious than mine ever are.

We sat down together—a Saturday luxury in a family of three kids, four musical lessons, and five sports. I passed him the pepper mill, brought a forkful of hash browns to my mouth, looked at his plate and … saw a giant pile of peppercorns.

Somehow, he'd twisted the top of the pepper mill wrong and his breakfast creation was covered in tiny black and white balls. His head hung low, hiding his face.

Sometimes you work really hard at something, make one wrong turn and … fail.

No one wants to see kids suffer through that, especially those already suffering the onset of puberty. But no one wants kids raised so protected they expect to eat someone else's breakfast when theirs goes bad.

But … I can make sure he remains fed, right? Everyone weathers life better when they're fed, right?

I passed him my untouched plate, bacon and all. "Thanks," he said, and when he lifted his head, I saw tears of frustration and embarrassment. He wolfed down his breakfast to sprint to his bedroom as quickly as he could.

I waited for whatever little morsel he might throw my way before he left.

I will wait for as long as it takes.

LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group.

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