There's a cat at the back door, clued into our awakening by the sound of our alarm. She will consent to three quick strokes to her back before she will pounce to eat the hand she wants to feed her. In the eight years she has been a member of our household, albeit an outdoor member, I have learned to stroke her with my slipper-clad feet. The lambswool fluff and hard sole protects my flesh.
The dog shakes herself awake when she hears my descending the stairs to put the cat's food out front. In the wilds of suburbia, no food bowl can be left outside overnight or it's feeding time for the raccoons. And wild barking and whinging from the protector dog as she alerts us to the intruders. Woe be the household inhabitants -- the indoor dwellers -- if we fail to retrieve the bowl during the night. Nothing like a midnight rousing to get the juices flowing.
The dog follows me back upstairs where I retrieve her bowl from the kitchen and fill it, remembering to fill the water bowl, too, berating myself for failing, yet again, to fill the water the night before.
The fish feels her ocean of an aquarium jostle as I walk on the kitchen/dining room level. I hear her flopping herself up to the top of her sea. She knows it's time for her hand of god to provide the manna she receives each morning before light begins to seep into the depths of her waters.
Daughter rouses next, and puts in her morning request of either waffles or toast. Most days, her wishes are filled by Pete, and so she receives her toast with the crust cut off. If it's me doing the making and delivering, she -- and the dog who normally receives the crust -- will be disappointed.
Eldest awakens and spends his customary 20 minutes in the bathroom, taking a long shower and dutifully brushing his full-metal-jacket teeth. If there's a cereal he likes in the house, he'll eat before school.
Youngest is last to awaken and least likely to eat anything of any value before he, too, heads off to school.
They all depart for school, lunch bags and lunch boxes filled and stowed by yours truly.
When Eldest complains about having to vacuum or do some other chore because he'll just have to do it again, I think of feeding times and how we're always doing it again. And again. And again. Not unlike that fish of ours endlessly circling her tank.