Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

Transmissions From Baby-Town: “Feeding Time At The Baby Paddock”

Somebody — and I won’t name names, but he’s the tiny dude over there in the high chair, ahem — is now eating solid food. And by “solid” I of course mean “pureed into a largely non-solid state.” It’s not like he’s eating turkey legs or shelling pistachios. Though, given the way this kid eats, it would not surprise me.

Just the same, I thought, it’s time to talk about feeding the baby.

Those of you with weak constitutions, troubled hearts or a fear of adorable small people…


* * *

I didn’t teach him this.

In fact, unless Santa Claus or some other fairy being is secretly involved, I don’t think anybody taught him this — but somehow he knows. He’s been studying us eating and from the first time I scooped a blob of pureed pears onto his baby-sized purple pastel spoon, he’s been ready. He opened his ravenous maw wide and blinked at me with those big blue eyes (the same eyes that are cute enough to prevent us from dropping him off at the local recycling center) and was ready to eat. No coaxing needed. No dabbing a little on his lips to be like, “Mmm, see? No, no, I know, it features none of the pillowy comfort of a boob, but hey! Apples!” None of that. He just opened his mouth and was ready to go and no training was necessary.

Humans are impressive machines.

If only potty-training will be this easy.

* * *

The kid, he hungers.

You know Jabba the Hutt? How his slug tongue licks the lips and he gleefully pops that screaming squirming tadpole thing into the foul slit that monster calls a mouth?

Yeah, that’s my son.

* * *


Okay, fine, grab the spoon.

Now his hands are sticky. And they’ll be sticky all day because somehow, perfectly cleaning an infant’s fingers is impossible. Later I’ll wonder, “How did this clump of food end up behind my ear? Was I sleep-eating again? Did someone slip me some Ambien? What the hell is it?” *taste* “Mmm. Peas.”

* * *

I cannot feed him fast enough.

They say his stomach is as big as his fist and he’s not exactly a huge kid — he’s lean, lanky, but not heavy.

So, when he wolfs down two full containers of food and then another two or three servings of rice cereal, I worry. This can’t be natural, I think. Kid’s got a tapeworm. Hell, he might have a stomach full of screeching baby falcons. But the doctor and all the baby books say, “Keep feeding him when he’s hungry,” but his hunger knows no bounds. I half expect to look under his high chair and see that it’s all just fallen through him, dropped through some empty space and onto the floor.

If I don’t feed him fast enough, he makes… impatient noises.


* * *


If he had teeth he’d bite at the air — clack clack clack.

* * *

Peas, though. He doesn’t like peas. He eats peas, he gets this face like, “Did you just spit in my mouth? What is this? Rubber cement? Pencil shavings? Goose poop? Fuck is wrong with you people?”

A genetic component, perhaps. I hated peas as a kid, too. From pureed peas onward. My mother says I could eat a glob of food and if there were peas in it I’d eat the rest of the food and then spit out the individual peas as if I was just cleaning them, making them shiny for someone else. Ptoo, ptoo, ptoo.

* * *


* * *

Baby food is delicious.

I squeezed out some mango puree and tasted it and immediately wanted to stir in some rum, toss it in a fruity glass with a swirly straw and guzzle that bad-boy down. No wonder the kid loves this stuff.

I mean, this strawberry-apple puree? I’d kill a dude for a second taste.

Though, yesterday I saw some of the meat-based baby foods at Target.

The “ham” puree has a color exactly that of Caucasian flesh.

As if it’s a jar of ground-up pink-cheeked street urchin.

I think we’re going to hold off on giving him meats for as long as we can.

* * *


* * *

The poop changes once you start feeding them.

It comes more often, for one thing.

Really, though, it starts looking like proper poop. No longer a mysterious mud-glop in a soft white shell — now it’s human waste. It’s what you or I do, just on a smaller scale. The glory days are over.

Oh, I know, here I am another parent talking about baby poop but suck it, that’s what we have to deal with. People talk about their experiences and new parents experience a whole lotta poop. You grow eerily and wearily comfortable with human effluence. You ever have someone pee in your face?

Have a baby. You’ll see.

* * *


* * *

His one hand grabs for the spoon. The other hand floats in the air like he’s conducting some kind of baby-food symphony. And his head bobs and weaves like he’s a drunken Stevie Wonder.

* * *

Soon, I think we’ll start making food for him. Get a rocking blender, something like a Vita-Mix, and just go to town. A lot of the store-bought food comes in crazy combos: for Thanksgiving, we gave him sweet potatoes + pumpkin + apple + blueberries, all in one squeezable food-tube. I’m oddly excited for the ability to mix up batches of whatever combos I choose. Spinach! Apples! Papaya! Wood grubs! Alpo! Caramel sauce! Bacon! NOM NOM NOM.

And yes, he really does like spinach.

* * *

All my years of video game training have led me to this.

Sure, there’s a technique — food on the end of the spoon, go in high, use his upper lip to kind of shear the food into his mouth, let him suck off the rest, then use the spoon to scrape the remaining goo off his lips.

But he keeps it interesting. He’ll open up reaaaaal biiiiig and just as you get close — BOOM — the hangar doors slam shut and the airplane crashes and the food is a casualty crammed against his face.

Or he’ll pivot to look at the dog.

Or he’ll try to be an active eater and lunge for the food.

You can’t fall asleep on this job. No automatic behaviors will do.

The kid, he’s squirrelly.

* * *


* * *

He keeps eating

and eating

and eating.

I’m half-tempted to shoot a goat and throw it on the tray.

Just to see.

Just to see.

* * *

The doctor tells us it’s time to start feeding him more than once a day. Three times. Meal times. Brekkie, lunch, dinner. It strikes you at times like this: oh shit, he’s like a real person.

This isn’t a dream. He’s not a puppy.

Deep breath.

* * *

I bet he’d eat that goat.

* * *


* * *

When we’re done eating, I approach his face as if the washcloth is a shark — I even make the JAWS music, dun-dun, duunnn-duuun — though it would be far easier if I could just drop him in the driveway and hose him off with the power-washer. Then I clean the tray and plant toys before him. He loves toys, now. It’s amazing how fast the changes occur with these wee little humans. Now he can drag himself toward things half-a-room away. Now he shoots out an arm and grabs things like some kind of snake-trained ninja. Now he studies objects and does more than just bang them into his head or shove them into his mouth.

Now he eats solid food.

Now he’s six months old.

* * *

Why I love feeding the boy:

Because it’s my time with him. I mean, I have a lot of time with him but it’s a time I can plop him down and his eyes are eerily focused on me and my Magical Spoon and I get to play the role of nurturing food-dude — after all, it’s not like I can breastfeed him or anything. (And no, I have not tried, weirdo.)

I like that time. Even when he shellacs his own eye shut with smashed carrots or gnaws on the food tray or turns his head at the last second thus ensuring I jam a dollop of prunes into his ear. I like the fundamental connection of parent-and-child, the uncomplicated rigors of I have food and you want this food and we are father and son and let’s laugh as you accidentally snort mashed banana into your brain.

It’s a sweet time and a highlight of my day and I cherish it.

I mean, don’t tell him that.