Monkey See

Zoe woke up the other morning and decided that she was done eating baby food. Just done with it. I’ve moved on, Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad just needed to get with program.

No, she decided that she only wants to eat exactly what I’m eating exactly while I’m eating it.

Interesting challenge this poses considering she doesn’t yet have any teeth, can only eat a handful of foods, and can choke on just about anything. Couple that with her simultaneous decision that she is ready to feed herself and thus will not accept any food from a spoon.

What’s the life of a mom without a little fun? Roll with it and adapt, roll with it and adapt. Repeat.

So we’ve been adapting. It narrows my food options severely and takes about an hour to feed her a single meal. Hey, roll with it. She wants to do what the big grown ups do. She wants to eat what the grown ups eat.

She’s learning by example. When I eat part of something before feeding it to her, she knows it’s safe, can’t be all that unpleasant, and that it’s good for you (well, hopefully– I haven’t yet started feeding her Snickers when I’m eating it). I couldn’t explain all of this to her in so many words. To begin with, she doesn’t speak English. Or Turkish or French.

I don’t speak Turkish. Not sure why that one was relevant.

Point is, she couldn’t understand if I presented her with a cool, rational argument for why she should eat a certain thing. Best she can manage is Zoe see Zoe do.

And that’s how we all learn best. Particularly when teaching people about love, for example, it’s absolutely infuriating for someone who has never even seen truly unconditional love to be delivered a didactic lesson on how best to love, what love looks like, and what mistakes they’ve made in their lives.

They don’t get it. They don’t speak the language.

It’s very similar to lecturing a preverbal child on why they should eat grown up food while you continue to force-feed them pureed prunes, while enjoying a fine dining, luxurious ten-course meal for yourself.

Oh just share the food. Then they can feel it, taste it. They don’t need to understand it.

When I talk about unconditional love, I’m not talking about our concept of love in this society. We believe that if someone says they love us, then shoot, it must be so. If I absolutely insist that I’m Pavarotti, the Italian tenor opera singer, it doesn’t make it true. We call that identify theft in this country. If I absolutely insist I have a pet pig that sprouted wings last night, that doesn’t make it true. We call that crazy talk in this country. Probably in all countries.

We mean well, but we unconsciously trade favors with one another and call that love. So if Zoe is good, and quiet and cooperative, then I will patient and kind and loving. If Oliver is helpful and thoughtful and useful, then I will be reciprocate. That’s not love; that’s currency. We absolutely betray ourselves when we feel any disappointment or anger. These things are the opposite of love.

This is so far out of the realm of anyone’s normal experience that people can’t even conceive of such a thing. They toss it in the same category as my flying pet pig. You’ve got to see it first to believe it exists.

This of course begs the question of why I am doing exactly what I suggest is ineffective and describing and explaining love. Well, the people who have already seen it could always use reminders. I can use the reminder myself. And maybe, just maybe, for every five people it infuriates, it might give one person a kernel of hope.


One thought on “Monkey See

  1. I remember those days well. Never made baby food, or fed with a spoon. Lots of cut up fruit or steamed veggies for them to mash and sometimes get in the mouth. Exploring tastes and textures, hand mouth coordination. My daughter ate little solid food for the first year preferring to nurse. Wonderful time of exploration.

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