There was an afternoon not long ago when I was working in the kitchen washing dishes. It was about three-thirty and all the kids were home so it must have been a Saturday. My eldest son came up the stairs, voice first, as is his custom—mid-conversation before he ever reaches the room of the person he wishes to speak with, though sometimes I wonder if he cares at all who the particular person is because the subjects he chooses to discuss never differ with regard to whom he is speaking. I never heard what he was saying because he heard something else first, the clanging of dishes and the flow of running water, the very sounds which prevented my hearing of his speech.
By the time he reached the kitchen the direction of his thoughts were wholly changed because of that nether region living below his pre-teen voice box, his stomach.
“What’s for dinner, Mom?” he asked with a note of excitement and a tinge of apprehension.
“Well, I don’t know, Sam. It’s not dinner time yet so I haven’t even thought about it, and I was just cleaning up the kitchen a bit.”
“Oh,” he said. “Well, I just heard you making sounds in the kitchen and thought you were getting it ready.”
“Nope,” I said with a sigh, my mind now engaged in the dreaded task, wondering what we had on hand that might be easy to cook and possess the potential of pleasing all five mouths in the house.
“Well, I guess I’ll go back downstairs,” he said and turned away from me.
I wondered for a moment what he had been talking about on the way up the stairs but decided against asking him about it since it was suddenly clear to me that after nearly twelve years, not one thing has changed about his central view of who I was and what I provided for his young life – the source of food.
And then I had one of those moments, so clear and harsh I half-expected the floor beneath my feet to tear away and begin spiraling into nothingness. I saw myself as my son and me as God, and for a millisecond I understood – something.
I tried to pray.
Sorry that I am always looking only for what you can give me, and not at who you are, what you might be thinking or even if you would like to speak to me. Sorry I am so completely preoccupied with being taken care of. I think you might like it if I was more in tune with our relationship, huh? Is there any way you could you make me a little better at that?
But the request seemed to prove the point all the more. I am nothing but a child here. Is being Father really all that you want?