The Wonderful World of Human Food

18 05 2008

She sat there near the table, drooling. Howling. She seemed to be begging for a scrap of the delicious meal we were enjoying. That’s when I figured it was time. Time for, as Neener so aptly describes it, “Human Food.” No, the she I speak of is not a puppy. We are not nearly insane enough to have a dog just yet. She is baby Squiggles, and she has made it clear that she wants human food. Now. Before she gums her own toes off. For the first five and a half months of her life, Squiggles has enjoyed an eclectic mix of breast milk and Enfamil A+ formula. However, neither breast milk nor formula is really considered human food here in the Blisterdome. The formula is a mixture of modified milk-like food products and expertly engineered nutrients that smells like a blend of eau d’goldfish, sugar and chalk, and tastes like liquid feet. Luckily for me, Squiggles likes the taste of feet. She doesn’t yet realize that feet taste pretty bad. As for the breast milk, well, the official line on that is that breast milk is only for babies. As I’ve had to remind Neener and Roo on numerous occasions, when they’ve complained of thirst and suggested nonchalantly that a sip of breast milk would hit the spot. Since that’s a big fat NO to breast feeding my five year olds, the point had to be made loud and clear: Breast milk is only for babies. And according to Neener and Roo, babies are not quite human. They see Squiggles more as a glorified puppy than a person, and therefore anything she has consumed up to this point does not meet their strict criteria for human food. So as Squiggle’s envious supper time protests grew louder and more insistent, it was obvious what needed to be done. Squiggles needed human food.

One morning a few weeks ago, Neener, Roo and I gathered around Squiggle’s chair with all the essentials for Squiggle’s first human food meal. Cute little baby spoon with smiling frog face? Check. Bib that fails to close around her chubby little neck and so must be firmly wedged beneath her chubbier little chins? Check. Oatmeal “cereal” watered down to the point of appropriate liquidity? Check. Big sisters with their own bowls of oatmeal, and orders to demonstrate proper eating technique? Check. With spoons poised, and an electric anticipation crackling in the air, I made the obligatory airplane noises and flew that first bite of human food to Squiggle’s little mouth, which remained tightly shut. Until, through the magic of mimicry, Squiggles got the hint by watching her much adored big sisters shoveling oatmeal into their gaping gobs. Mental note: Do not use Neener and Roo to teach Squiggle’s proper eating etiquette. In went a spoonful of mush. And out came the same spoonful of mush. Then back in went the same spoonful of mush, until finally, Squiggles got the hang of eating like a human. 

But the fun food frenzy was short lived. Within days, Squiggle’s bum had erupted into an angry red rash. The type of rash I formerly proclaimed could only be the result of diaper negligence. When I laid off on the cereal, the rash went away. When I re-tried the cereal, the rash came back with a vengeance. So, a few weeks ahead of schedule, we’ve moved on to even more human food. Real food. And I’m not talking about the shit they stick in jars and call baby food. Back when Neener and Roo were brand new to the world of human food I made the mistake of licking a bit of jarred baby pea puree off my hand. After my gagging fit subsided, I decided that if I was going to spend the next few years covered in the food my kids were eating, I’d bloody well better be able to stomach licking it off my hands. So I went out and got a bag of frozen peas, cooked them well and mashed them through a strainer. It was nothing short of amazing. They were a bright, fresh shade of green instead of a weird sickly greenish-grey. They smelled like peas and tasted like peas and did not make me gag. And Neener and Roo loved them. Then I discovered homemade sweet potatoes. And apples. And carrots. And green beans. Even chicken. All fresh and real and custom mashed to adjust the texture and consistency as Roo and Neener grew. Yes, it takes a little more time and preparation, but it beats the hell out of the creepy coloured food-like slime in the jars. Just taste that stuff some time, I dare you. So as a die-hard DIY baby food convert, I am thrilled that Squiggles is taking a rain check on the cereal. Now I can start creating proper feasts fit for a little human.  

Last week, as per the new recommendations that protein should be introduced before vegetables because babies need the iron, Squiggles tried chicken. Today, it was sweet potatoes. I could say that Squiggles savored every bite of her new adventures in the world of human food. That she smiles and coos ‘Mmmmmm’ as I pop spoonfuls of freshly mushed human food into her waiting mouth. Just as I remember Neener and Roo doing when they were her age. But if I said that, I’d be lying. There are no eager ‘Mmmmmms’, no smiles during Squiggle’s daily meal. Now, that’s not to say that she doesn’t enjoy what she is being fed. She does. Thoroughly. But rather than focussing on eating the food, she is clearly more interested in trying to wrestle the spoon from my hand. Or in giving herself a sweet potato facial. Or in putting her feet in her mouth to wash down a spoonful of pureed chicken. And that’s ok. I’m not going to rush it. This is all new to her. I know I can’t expect her to act like a mini gourmand just because I took the time and the effort to feed her the finest homemade baby food. Her exploration in the brand new world of human food is more about touch, texture and experimentation than it is about taste, or actual eating. Squiggles still thinks feet taste ok. But someday soon she’ll come around. She’ll realize that feet actually taste bad, especially compared to Mommy’s homemade sweet potato mush and pureed chicken. And I’ll be there, smiling frog face baby spoon firmly in hand, waiting to take her on the full introductory tour of the wonderful world of human food. Next stop, peas.   




2 responses

19 05 2008

I came home from school one day to find my 5 moth old baby ,sitting in a cardboard box, on the kitchen table, gnawing on a chicken bone, while her doting grandmather sat and watched. “Mom I bawled ,Dr. Spock says she shouldn’thave meat until she’s older”
“Frig Dr.Spock” she said, “How many babies did he have.I had thirteen.”
She then informed me that my darling daughter loved scranboiled eggs(sic) and her nanny’s hearty beef stew, mushed up.
The baby was so happy sitting there chewing on that bare bone, I just shut my mouth. Experience one , Dr. Spock nothing.
for years after she would ask for stew the way nanny made it for her birthday supper. I never did master the scramboiled eggs.

20 05 2008

Good to know that these things are decided by who’s had the most kids. I’ve had three, looks like I trump you Mom! So, even though I clearly survived my own Nanny’s “experince”, I’ve got a hard and fast rule: No scranboiled eggs, no beef stew, no chicken bones until I say so. Domestic Blister, one. Experience, nothing.

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