Words have power.
How could one word, a seemingly harmless word, mean such different things?
The word “breakfast” elicits a range of responses from my intense and quirky son. “Breakfast” can be an experience that is a precursor to something that he dreads or somewhere completely overwhelming. That very same word “Breakfast” can also provide joy, excitement and pure relaxation.
Breakfast during the week, means school is minutes away. This breakfast must include enough protein and be large enough to help his eight year old body tolerate the lessons that are far below his intellectual abilities. This breakfast is served by a lady on a mission! She has time restrictions and she crosses her fingers, hoping that most of it is consumed.
My son eats this breakfast, knowing that when he is done, he goes to a place that is not easy for him. Entering a building where the lights are too bright and the sounds are too loud. The students in the hallway create a blur and nothing slows to a pace that is comfortable for him. The classroom walls are covered with information intended to help, but it clutters my son’s ability to see the classmates before him.
Unlike breakfast at home, a weekend breakfast in a restaurant should be enjoyable; however, because “out there” can be hard, we try and compensate by attempting to bring comfort with us. This strategy requires a tool box that consists of an iPad, ipad charger, a lunch box filled with typically acceptable foods, and headphones intended to muffle the sound of clanging dishes and talkative patrons.
We try and use our bodies to shield him from the over social hostess asking about a children’s menu or crayons. Trying to make friendly conversation, she comments about his height or his bright red headphones. This attention is unwanted by a kid like mine, but they don’t know that. They are trained to make eye contact and my son has trained himself to avoid it.
Our intent is to select breakfast locations that have worked well in the past; however, a holiday weekend that draws tourists or new chairs that screech on the concrete floor can sabotage our eggs benedict even before the menus are given.
The music turned up or strong smelling food can be the sensory tipping point and we find ourselves quickly consuming our breakfast at an uncomfortable pace or asking for cardboard “to go” boxes. This takes place as strangers stare or roll their eyes, confident that they know how to parent our son better than we do. Boundaries and “Because I said so” is just what he needs. Or so they think.
There is one occasion, where the word “Breakfast” means something entirely different. It means relaxation and ease. This is when “breakfast” is used in combination with the words “room service.” This is when you get a toothy smile, from my happy kid.
As long as I can remember, my son has enjoyed fancy hotels. He appreciates the fresh towels and the expensive sheets in a way that I don’t think most eight years old notice. The sparse rooms and clean counters are welcoming to a kid like mine. I attribute this boy’s love of the high life mostly to his sensory awareness and partly to his learned expectation for a tidy atmosphere.
My son notices the fact that he doesn’t have to smell any of the preparation or see the aftermath of the meal for any length of time. He can get what he wants, how he wants it, all delivered by someone that seems thrilled to do it.
When he sits in the comfort of his pajamas and removes the silver dome that reveals the bright, glistening pieces of fruit positioned ever so carefully next to his hardboiled egg. He is completely satisfied.
The fresh squeeze orange juice is in a tall “grown up” glass and covered with a bit of plastic wrap, assuring that not one drop will stain the cloth or napkin prior to his enjoyment.
This type of breakfast allows a quiet, calm atmosphere as our family of three enjoys our perfectly prepared food and talks about the plans of the day. This is where breakfast can be enjoyed and eaten without the pressure of socializing or scrutinizing or hurrying with constant reminders of what is to come.
If you say “breakfast” to my son, you need to be prepared to clarify the meaning of that word.
Is it…breakfast at the kitchen island, eaten quickly, and then leaving for a long, tiring day?
Is it…weekend breakfast, sitting among strangers, and smelling everyone else’s choice of meat?
Is it…leisurely sitting, consuming favorite items, in your pajamas, with comfort and ease?
See how a word can have such different meanings even when it is the very same word?