When Emma started showing interest in solid foods around five months old, I was actually pretty excited, a new milestone, more freedom from me. I whipped open one of my many baby books and read about what to introduce first. I was a little afraid because so far all she had to eat was pure breastmilk, clean, sanitized, perfect nutrition. I was a little scared about what would pass through my child's untainted lips. I bought the recommended rice cereal, mixed it up and offered it to her open mouth. Refused. I would try again a few days later, and still, refused. I talked to another mom about this, she said, 'They all hate rice cereal, it has no flavor.' So back to the store, I bought teething biscuits, the box suggested crushing them up and adding breastmilk or formula to make a cereal. I thought it was worht a shot, but I used apple juice instead because it's non-allergenic and Emma won't take formula and breastmilk is a pretty precious commodity. She loved it. Then we moved and they don't sell that type of teething biscuit in the US.
Over the next six months I have made her baby food. I read instructions for baby food, where they tell you not to boil it, or add water, or add fats or salt or sugar to it. And I thought, 'how in the world am I supposed to puree this if I can't add anything to it.' So I ignored the clinical advice, I boiled it, mashed it, added some of the cooking water when it needed it, threw in a little salt, maybe some butter to smooth it out. And guess what she loved it. She refused the store bought baby food and chomped mine down. One point for mommy.
Pretty soon she started refusing baby food and wanted what we had on our plates. This is a good transition, but she only has two teeth and we eat spicy food, a lot. Can she really handle what we eat? At first, no. After a few choking moments, I became a little gun shy and backed off the food. That's why children have daddies...
And grandparents. I think most moms have this view of being very careful about the first foods that they introduce to their children, slowly trying one thing at a time. Veggies first, so you have a little angel that loves their spinach. Certainly no sugar until that first birthday, when you give them a piece of their birthday cake and cameras poised, let 'er rip.
The other day while we were eating dessert I looked up and my father-in-law had his spoon outstretched to Emma,
"Emma, would you like some ice cream? Yeah," he nodded as she eagerly slurped off his spoon. Oh, jeez. Some things in life stick in your head so clearly that they remain with you throughout. I had a friend in grad school that had just had her first child, she was very all-natural. One day in class she was complaining that her mother-in-law kept giving her kid sweets and she didn't know how to handle it. After class one of the 'older' ladies in class very gently struck up a conversation with my friend, all I heard was,
"The relationship with your mother-in-law is more important than the lollipop," she did it so gently and kindly that it stuck in my memory.
This is what I thought as my father-in-law was giving my child her first taste of ice cream. I cringed inwardly and let him do it. Later that week he looked at me while holding a piece of french toast and asked,
"Can I give her a piece?"
"I would prefer you didn't just because it has eggs in it,and thank you, very much, for asking," he nodded and put it down. Goes both ways, eh?
I had also thought when he gave her ice cream, you know he raised five kids, he knows what he's doing. Later my mother-in-law reacted very strongly when Emma fell and bonked her head, a surprise from a woman I'm sure told her own children to walk it off. Later I looked at her, the one eye sideways squint,
"Would you have reacted that way with your own kids?" She looked off to the side, for a pensive moment,
"Probably not," it seems that grandparents have different rules than parents.
I watch as my little girl crawls all over the house, collecting bites of pumpkin from her grandma, bites of my peanut butter toast, and bites of whatever off the floor. Sigh, her sweet mouth is no longer untainted. I didn't stick to a regimen of introducing non-allergenic foods. She apparently seems to have survived it so far...