I sit at a table in the diner and watch my family eat.

A booth, actually.

I sit in a booth at the diner and watch my family eat.

My daughter asks for more fries. She uses her hands, signing “more” and then “fries”. She’s very precise when she does it, which I always find funny. I find it funny because she’s only precise when she thinks she’ll be told no. Her movements to sign “fries” makes me smile.

My youngest son very carefully dips his fries into a packet of Welch’s Concord grape jelly. The barest amount of jelly comes off onto the fry and he takes a very small bite before dipping it again.

I think back to a moment minutes before when the food had not yet arrived and my daughter dumped the sweetener packets all over the table. Squealing in delight, she snatched them off the table on large fistfuls… at least, as large as her tiny hands would allow. Each fistful is crammed back into the container until it is full and the process begins anew.

My son stacks the jelly, jam, and marmalade packets until they tip and fall. Across the table, the sweetener packets spill across the table once again. But then the food arrives.

I’m back in the moment again. My daughter has crawled to my side of the booth and into my lap. She immediately wants to move away. She doesn’t want me. She just wants to be close to her brother’s fries. She steals them, no longer signing “more” and “fries”, but just taking that which she wants.

Eventually, they calm. I sit, drink my coffee, and smile at my wife. Out the window I see a hot, summer day and cars rushing to destinations unknown. I wonder if they wish they could sit with their family and enjoy a late breakfast.

I take a sip, and the warmth fills me. But it’s not the coffee that I feel.

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