Mealtime

photo (7)Just when you think feeding a baby can’t possibly get any tougher, it does.

She’ll eat purees, but not in her high chair, only when standing and both her hands are occupied, but of course she still primarily wants to feed herself which is a time-consuming and messy ordeal, requiring me to pick from a very small list of foods she can eat and easily pick up with her own hands, and she’ll eat her vegetables, but only on the third Sunday of every month, provided it’s raining outside.

Or at least that’s what it feels like.

And the mistress has learned how to refuse in a way that is possible to misinterpret. She turns her head away, raises her hands and declares, “Adah!” her version of “All done.”

Of course she doesn’t mean that she’s done eating altogether; it’s just my cue to line up with fifty-two other foods until we find the acceptable one for that day and time.

Yeesh.

All I’m saying is I won’t be surprised if she just up and turns into a banana or a bowl of yogurt one of these days.

And then when Zoe does want to eat she will continue crawling around or cruising on the furniture and simply open her mouth and expect the food to be there, like a whale sifting through ocean water for krill. Hang on, babe. Mommy can’t easily reach under the dining room table to, you know, where your mouth is currently stationed. Oh okay, that was a cheek, not a mouth. Take #2…

Mealtime can be a taxing thing and if I’m not feeling sufficiently peaceful, sometimes I feel like shoving food down her tiny throat. But no matter how time-consuming it gets or how little I feel like she might be eating in any given meal, we don’t ever resort to the Food-Down-the-Throat method. For Zoe, learning to say no is vastly more important than eating one more piece of chicken. And from my end of the deal, loving her and respecting her budding independence is infinitely more of a gift than another forced gram of protein.

The same applies to force-feeding people ideas, thoughts or beliefs.

Sometimes I think my husband ought to learn a particular life lesson or grow in a particular way in order to make my life more convenient. I don’t have a problem expecting inconvenience and hassle from my daughter, but somehow I think my husband’s sole purpose in existing is providing me entertainment? Well gee, no arrogance in that, huh? I happily took 22 years to learn some of these life lessons and then I want to turn around and transfer them to Oliver in, oh shall we say, two hours? No, he really can learn that if and when he wants. If all the Powers That Be in the universe didn’t see fit to force that information upon him, then shoot, who do I think I am to correct that error?

Even if knowledge is right, or true, or would benefit Oliver– even if Zoe probably could use a little more protein– it doesn’t change anything (provided Zoe’s life isn’t at stake). Free agency is still the most sacred principle on the planet.

Other people aren’t my playthings. They are human beings with the right to make their own choices, even when those choices inconvenience me.

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