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Food, Glorious Food!

Ronan Open Wide
Ronan with mouth open wide. This doesn't happen during feeding.

So in my Dad’s group, which I have been missing due to visiting grandparents, colds, Christmas, final exams, job loss, and God knows what else, the older kids used to eat an entire jar – four ounces – of baby food at one sitting.

With Ronan, we’re lucky if he eats an ounce in one sitting. Ronan turns nine months old today, and he’s a happy healthy baby boy. Even when he had a cold last week and his temperature was 102° F, he still was happy. I pray to God that he doesn’t lose that wonderful, joyous personality when he becomes aware of the world.

So happiness is good. So far, he’s about on target for weight, which means he’s getting enough food. The next well baby visit is next Tuesday, and we’ll find out if he’s still on target for average weight.

In the mean time, we will fight over food. While we claim he eats an ounce, actually it’s less, because a sizeable quantity is deposited on his head, hands, chin, hair, floor, ceiling, and high chair. I’m not sure what we’re doing wrong (nothing, really) but his first reaction is to spit out the food. It was pretty funny introducing solids. He would take the first bite and then his whole body would shudder as if he’d just bitten into a lemon. The food would be pushed out by his tongue, and then sucked back in again. Eventually he calmed down and would eat. But not much.

We tried making food from scratch, which was, according to Ronan, a terrible idea. We couldn’t get him to eat anything we ground up. We also had an adventure with avocado, which I have never prepared before, and which Terry had placed in the refrigerator, ensuring that it would never ripen. Obviously we’re avocado experts. Let me tell you – do not attempt to grind or mush an unripe avocado. I swear the army is using unripe avocado as armor on their new tanks. After I successfully shot hard avocado around our kitchen, and later our dining room, I looked up online and found that you shouldn’t store avocado in the fridge. Ronan was very entertained with my antics while I attempted to grind that thing into mush.

The second avocado, which was properly ripened, was met with disgust. Ronan and I will not be sharing guacamole anytime soon if his utter hatred of avocados is any indication. His “WHAT THA FUCK IS THAT” look throughout the avocado experience was funny except that it was sadly tinged with my parent guilt over my inability to feed my child. Eventually, after it was frozen and turned brown, I made ersatz guacamole and ate the second avocado myself with beans and rice.

There will not be a third avocado.

Likewise, those of you, and you are apparently many, who advocate rice and oatmeal cereal will be disheartened to learn that, after many attempts, Ronan thinks that rice cereal and oatmeal tastes, well, terrible. We don’t exactly know what he thinks, but he basically spins his head in the direction away from the oatmeal or rice cereal.

About the only moderate hit is mangos. However, mangos get rejected if you mix them with oatmeal or rice cereal. Other fruit, like pears, is not as popular as mangos.

Spinach and lentils, lentils and squash, peas and carrots, squash alone, and sweet potatoes require a strange ritual immediately familiar to all parents. First, you have to trick Ronan into removing his fist from his mouth, which is his defense against food. Suitable tactics include deploying a baby spoon that he can control, or just pulling his fingers out of his mouth, which runs the risk of his fingers getting BACK in before you can cram a spoonful of food into his mouth. Giving him his own spoon also helps with the sudden and rapid power play to seize the food spoon for himself. When Ronan seizes the spoon that has food on it, it turns into a catapult. We know there’s food landed somewhere in the apartment, and from time to time, we find it, usually with our feet in socks, where it feels most cold and gooey.

The second stage of the eating ritual is to repeat his name over and over, interspersed with loud “ahhhhhhhhhs” as our own mouths form an “O.” A typical dinner conversation now sounds like this:

Jason: We need milk. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Ronan

Terry: (simultaneously) AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH Ronan I can go to the store tomorrow.


Terry: (simultaneously) Ronan AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Don’t we have some in the breadbox?

While we’re doing that, Ronan is looking from parent to parent, quietly hoping that our sanity will return. He never actually opens his mouth as a direct response to our aaahhhhhs, so it must serve only to make us feel better about our feeding abilities.

This is all quite funny until you realize that I’m writing this blog at 4 AM, while nearby Ronan happily and greedily breastfeeds from Terry. It’s possible that the lack of good solid food at his advanced baby age of nine months may be contributing to his early morning cries for breast milk.[i] Hopefully if we get him up to twelve ounces a day, he will sleep better.[ii]

Finally, I want to tell you about these new toys Ronan’s discovered. Every meal he gets five new ones to play with. They are called “cheerios.” While most of us think they are food, Ronan prefers to play with them until they somehow, through spit and mangos, adhere themselves to his butt, his clothes, or the high chair. If he actually ate some of them, he would get more, but so far we’ve only seen one of the dozens of suicide cheerios actually consumed. The others are simply left to cling to his butt. I’m not sure how he ends up sitting on top of them, but there they are, waiting to be discovered when it’s least convenient to find cold, wet, sticky oat residue on your fingers or feet. Think about that the next time you sit down to eat.

[i] Off topic, but I’ve been over-thinking about breast milk lately. (Hey, it’s 4 AM.) Why is it called breast milk? We don’t call cow’s milk “udder milk.” Why don’t we call it human’s milk? We call cow’s milk and goat’s milk by their species designation. Why not breast milk? Probably because women object to being grouped in with cows and goats, that’s why. Just a thought. It’s 4 AM.

[ii] And we’ll have more poo to clean up as well. Everything’s a trade off with babies.


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