Milk and Cereal
“Dad? Dad, are you awake?” I would tap on his shoulder, jostling him a bit. “Dad.” I stood on his side of my parents’ king-size bed.
I could see his eyes open in the kind of nighttime light a room has. “What is it, booger?”
“I can’t sleep. Can we get a midnight snack?” I would ask.
He pushed the covers off and sat upright, slung his legs over the edge, collecting his bearings. I waited. Dad got up, and I moved to the right a bit so he could lead the way. We shuffled our way to the stairs, then down the steps and toward the kitchen.
He turned the knob to turn on the hood light above the stove. I climbed onto a stool that faced the kitchen. A long, white counter separated the food preparation space from the eating area.
“What kind of cereal do you want?” Dad asked while he opened the cabinet and retrieved two bowls. This was our custom.
“Cheerios,” I said this time. He was already on his way to the pantry.
He pulled the accordion doors and reached for Cheerios and his choice, which may have been Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes. Maybe Raisin Bran. He filled my bowl, then his own, and sprinkled a little sugar over each one. He had neglected to get the milk.
I watched him walk back across the hardwood to the fridge. Sleepy from not being able to sleep, I held my head up with the palm of my hand, my elbow reaching almost to Dad’s side of the counter. Dad poured the milk and placed my bowl in front of me. I pushed my hair away from my face and started on the Cheerios.
He held his bowl near his chest and leaned his back end into the counter near the sink, one foot crossed over the other. We ate. He, by the sink. Me, on the stool.
Every once in a while, a spoon clinked against a bowl. I concentrated on my cereal, and Dad concentrated on his.
We finished whatever bites were left, and we both turned our bowls up to drink the leftover milk, sweet from the sugar. Dad put his empty bowl and spoon in the sink. He grabbed my bowl and placed it beside his.
I slid off the stool as he turned the hood light knob again. Dad would direct me toward the steps with his hand on my shoulder, assuring I didn't bump into anything.
Once we got back upstairs, my bedroom was on the right before my parents’ doorway on the left. I lifted my knee onto my bed to hoist myself up and crawled under the covers. Dad would tuck me back in and go back to his side of their king-size bed. I don’t remember having any trouble sleeping after a midnight snack.