I was feeling sad tonight, so I made blue pancakes. Seems like an odd thing to do, right? Who the heck makes blue pancakes? I do. And I started doing this 13 years ago with a special little dude who was about 2 years old at the time, and who made my heart full. At his mother’s insistence, I don’t get to spend time with this awesome kid these days, and I was rudely reminded of that this morning, and so… I was sad. So I made blue pancakes.
I made the blue pancakes in his honor (as I explained to my dogs who I’m pretty sure were only listening to me talk because they hoped for some pancake scraps). I made the blue pancakes because I needed to do something to feel that old, special connection in a happy context, and not dwell in the sad. I made the blue pancakes as a way to work on forgiving his mom for cutting me off 8 years ago. I made the blue pancakes during a kitchen meditation meant to help me release the emotions I still feel when I think of how things ended. The blue pancakes aren’t pretty, but they stand for so much.
I can still see this little guy at 3 and 4 years old, splitting up the pancake batter into small bowls so he could use all the bottles of food coloring in different combinations to see what would happen (spoiler alert: most of the time they ended up a rather revolting-looking shade of gray due to the overuse of allthecolors, but we ate them anyway). The kitchen would be a mess, he would be a mess, but he would be overjoyed at his creations. He would eat a little of this one, a little of that one, chattering on about his color “potions” and making plans for the next time we made pancakes. It was such a simple thing — to make pancakes, and color them with abandon — but it became a favorite of his, and any time he was at my house for breakfast I knew what we would be dining on. Colorful pancakes were involved in many happy memories with him. So I made blue pancakes.
Through strange and upsetting circumstances, this little friend came to live at my house from time to time when he was a baby and toddler. His dad lived with us for a while, so when he had custody he brought this little ball of light with him. I still lived with my parents at the time, but I became the (self-appointed) baby wrangler. I fed him, changed him, snuggled with him, rocked him to sleep, read him books, played games, and just generally did all the baby things. When he started talking he couldn’t say my name properly, so he made one up. We had such a bond, he and I. And as he grew up, circumstances changed as they always do, and he no longer needed to stay at my house. I still saw him all the time, and would often volunteer to take him overnight so his mom could have a night out. I bet you can guess what we made for breakfast every time (hint: it was pancakes).
Things in his little life improved drastically and soon he had a fantastic step-father and a little brother. I was in graduate school taking night classes at the time, and when I heard that these boys needed someone to look after them during the day, I immediately jumped at the chance to spend more time with the two of them, because (obviously) they were most adorable, smartest, coolest kids ever created. So I was the nanny. And it was exhausting. And wonderful. And it bonded me to these two to a degree I didn’t know was possible. I didn’t know I could have so much love in my heart and soul for these children who weren’t even of my blood. He and I loved to show little brother how to do all the things we always did together: color, blow bubbles, play with trucks, read books, chalk the driveway, and make rainbow-colored pancakes.
And when my wonderful friend was 7, and his brother was 3, their little world was rocked again when their parents split up. And without going into sordid details, I had to pick a side. Circumstances being what they were, I searched my soul and ultimately chose dad’s side. And from that moment, his mom cut me off. I was no longer permitted to see her children. Ever. Not because it was the best thing for the kids, but because she was angry with me. So… no more pancakes.
I am beyond grateful, however, that when this dad had his “days” with his son (the little one), he would go out of his way to make sure I got to spend quality time with him. But I never again got to see my first little buddy. And it hurt. BOY did it hurt. For a long, long time. All I could do was pray that he was being well cared for, that he had a good support system, and that he would thrive. From all accounts, he’s doing well. He’s 15 now and in high school — a far cry from that little dude who made potions in my kitchen while he sang Beatles music he learned from his dad. And I think about him often, especially on his birthday, and send him love and light. I get updates from his little brother (who also isn’t so little anymore — he just started middle school!) and it sounds like he’s found his niche, his tribe. And when the little brother gets to have sleep-overs at my house and we play Harry Potter and read about dragons and Star Wars, we always get up in the morning, make the batter, split it up into bowls, and grab the food coloring. These days we’re a bit more sophisticated and we make waffles in the waffle iron (often making each quadrant of the waffle a different color), but every time we gather in the kitchen I think of those early days of happiness and pancakes.
So when I have days like today when I’m confronted with the fact that I was cut off from this child of my heart, and I start to feel that pain all over again, I stop. Feel the emotion. Miss him like crazy. Let the feelings pass through me. Stay grounded in the moment. Send him and his mother love, light, compassion, and forgiveness. And make blue pancakes.