One of my favorite things is waking up on a Saturday morning to a pile of sneakers beside the radiator in the kitchen. I have usually gone to sleep way before these basketball playing, skateboarding, living room soccer ball kicking, ping ponging, video gaming, teenage eating machines. You can hear the rap music pouring out of Eli’s suite, or anyway you can feel the beat, and somehow I have gotten used to the thumping. It is almost comforting. He’s home. We have fed them a bunch of homemade pizzas or BBQ ribs and they have settled in for a night of chips and ice cream and cookies and games. In the morning there will be piles of towels and unmade beds. I will holler up at them to make those beds, pick up their clothes and come down for the pancakes and sausage or the bacon and egg casserole. But first I always look at that pile of shoes for a little while as I drink my coffee. Those shoes make me feel grateful and blessed. This week Will said I love coming here and seeing what’s on your kitchen counter Ellen. If there’s nothing there but the fruit bowl he said he opens the oven and checks there too. This week it was a strawberry cheese crostada cooling in the oven and he had a big bowlful. Who knew that just as I love the pile of sneakers they love my kitchen? I always loved looking to see what was on my Gram’s counter or in her oven too come to think of it. So maybe this kitchen/counter thing is a family legacy. We are not a family of boarding schools like so many folks are up here in the northeast. That is not our tradition. So most weekends these last fourteen years (since our oldest first became a teenager) we wake up with our kids and their friends. We have considered presidential races, drugs, teenage sex, and the deaths of beloved pets at our Saturday morning kitchen table. Boyfriends have been examined and girls have been puzzled over. Teachers have been praised and excoriated. Leaves have been raked and furniture gotten moved while we yelled and laughed and someone put a rubber band on the faucet so you got sprayed when you turned it on. This week we talked about the anniversary of the Bin Laden killing at breakfast. Someone thought it was an illegal assassination. Eli wondered why– if we went into Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda and kill Osama Bin Laden only then we invaded Pakistan and killed him there– we are we still in Afghanistan. It’s a good question. And I am glad they are talking about it around my table. Now I just have to decide what to have on this counter come Friday night.