Birthday breakfast made by a seven-year-old and delivered at the crack of dawn with the help of her father.
French toast and hot coffee in bed.
A slice of yellowing apple with a bite already missing.
Breakfast-skippers be damned. You will eat the delicate little heart-shaped toasts and you will LIKE them. The burned bits, you'll exclaim, are a delicacy.
It's a little daunting, though, when the whole family perches on the end of the bed, staring at you as you lift the fork to your mouth.
Extending my plate I offer samples to those who are salivating.
"Maybe we can go get your mom's present today," says the husband, who is always slightly behind on his special-occasion shopping. "This is a Birthday-Fourth-of-July-Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-and-New-Year's present," he says with a wink and a nod.
I had dropped a hint that I would like an iPad.
"You know ... I think I might actually like an iPad," I said when he asked what I might want for my birthday. "I don't know. ... I'm just thinking that I'd like one for reading books. I read so rarely since the kids were born. And there are so many books being distributed electronically ... I'm just thinking ... maybe it's not as bad as I thought. Maybe I'd actually read more if I didn't worry about collecting books or library fines ... "
It was more of an inner-monologue gone astray than a hint, but he got the message.
He was still smiling at me as I looked at him in furtive horror.
"You got me an iPad?" I asked with the tiniest bit of apprehension.
His answer was all important: If he HAD ordered the tablet computer I would have be “thrilled” and immediately commenced searching the land of electronic libraries for available titles. But if he hadn't gotten the thing I would be … relieved.
"I didn't order it yet. I was trying to figure out whether we should get one that's 3G or not."
"Let's just forget it, OK?” I tell him.” Don't get an iPad. As it is, with the phones and the computer and twitter and facebook and flickr and texts — and all the other made up words that sell gadgets — I'm already distracted enough. I don't want another screen through which the kids have to compete for my attention. You say all the time how much we're missing ... Let's not add to it ... "
I didn’t want to start a war based on the last time we argued over attentions paid to machinery, but there it was.
I knew he agreed with me, yet I could still see a sliver of disappointment. The problem of being without a gift was still at hand.
"I'd be happy with a tomato plant," I said. "We could go to the plant center."
He's a stickler, though. A $4 plant I would likely kill within 48 hours wasn't going to cut it for him.
"Let's go get a tree. What do you think? Wouldn't it be nice to have a fruit tree?"
I was a little skeptical. Trees are expensive ... and you probably need two if you want them to bear fruit. ... And then there's the thing of planting them ... and caring for them. ... "Maybe we should just research this a little before we jump in."
"You Google, I'll get the keys."
Before I knew what was happening, there we were at the apple tree store peering at rows of fruit-bearing plants. As we stood there reading the tags, the kids careened down the stone-covered walkways dragging the garden center's big-wheeled wagon behind them as if they had just been let loose in a theme park.
It dawned on me that the Apple store, with its many sales people and its knee-high computers loaded with games, may have been a less complicated place.
"What I don't get is what's the difference between the apple trees and the pear trees," he said to no one in particular.
I choked back laughter and any hope of a clever response: "Really! Really?"
He just smiled and said he was going to find someone who could help us.
"OK, but please don't ask that question when you get to The Genius Bar."