Here is what our life looks like now that you’re ten months old: The day begins harmless and quite nice, eating a few Puffs on the kitchen floor, both of us barefoot and bleary-eyed. We make animal sounds and point to everything that exists, over and over again, running laps of vocabulary across the room: light, floor, dog, rug, table. And then, the stillness lifts, as if the school bell just rang, homeroom is over, and we must run to first period quick fast before we’re tardy – and wait, I have to stop at my locker and oh man, we’re going to be late again. You are a constant state of hurry-faster-go-now and I am your ball and chain, dragging close behind in a bathrobe and disheveled hair, muttering iron links of deterrents like “No” and “Down” and “Off” and “Stop eating the carpet.”
This is your newest activity, to eat bits of carpet. You race-crawl around each room, gathering straw for your mouth nest, and I follow – pinkies primed for finger-sweeping the fibers you store atop your tongue. It’s an odd way to live, existing almost for the sole purpose of removing near-hazards from a child’s face portal on a daily basis. I am a janitor, feather dusting a sandbox.
One might think your inclination toward a full mouth makes for an excellent eater, but oh, Bee. Such is not the case. Your innards are made up of four foods alone: avocados, Puffs, sometimes-bananas and every-now-and-then-eggs. Never at the same time, lest you become overwhelmed and windshield wiper them across the room. You eat slowly and meticulously, pinching a tiny portion of food between your fingers and then rolling it into your palm, squeezing it so that it emerges on top of your clenched fist: an ice cream cone of surprise. This is the only way food must enter your body on most occasions. On happy afternoons you will sometimes tolerate food delivery via pouch, and on busy evenings, a spoon is allowed. Yet there are many rules about the spoon, rules of which I have outlined below for posterity:
1. The spoon must be of the double-sided variety, preferably your blue one.
2. The spoon may be delivered by a parent, but only if it is also co-delivered by you as well.
3. In the event of a parent-led spoon delivery, you must also have your own, separate spoon in your hand.
4. The above separate spoon must be your wooden spoon. On occasion, your wooden fork may act as a sufficient replacement.
You have lots of weird quirks and regulatory preferences like this, Bee, and I mentally collect them like a sea of green plastic army men, lined up and ready to ward off tantrum attacks. Of course, even the best of armies sometimes fall, and my reserves are no match for your rare-but-bazooka-powerful public displays of disaffection. So in those moments, I simply pray for patience and avoid eye contact in aisle five.
There are glorious moments, too, Bee. You have a volatile personality, full of highs and lows and in-between bouts of stoic observance. Just this morning as you were nursing, you clutched my hand and sandwiched your tiny fingernail between my thumb and cuticle, picking as if you were a baby gorilla, grooming her mother of parasites so she could better take care of you.