Last Saturday, I got my first taste of feeding the baby by myself…er…I should say that my baby got her taste of my feeding her.
My wife wanted to do a little shopping, and also needed to get new contact lenses, so I stayed with our daughter for about four hours. I’d done this before, of course, but when our baby was much younger. I had also fed her before, but only when my wife was also present. Starting around late October, we started giving our daughter ri-nyushoku, or “separate from breastfeeding meals” (i.e., baby food).
Actually, there are four distinct time periods identified in Japanese for babies learning how to eat solid food, each with an onomatopoeic label: “Gokkun (swallowing whole) Period,” “Mogu-mogu (gumming) Period,” “Kami-kami (chewing) Period,” and “Paku-paku (gobbling) Period.” Our daughter is about to get her first teeth, so she’s on the border of “mogu-mogu” and “kami-kami.”
Now, I thought I was all prepared for this. I have many younger brothers and sisters. Even before I was high school age, I had plenty of practice at changing diapers and putting clothing on my siblings. I had even helped feed a few of them.
No problem, I thought, feeling sure of myself. I can handle this.
Yeah. Famous last words.
One small detail I had forgotten was how sensitive my daughter was to any change in her daily routine. I had also forgotten somehow that being feed by an older brother may not necessarily elicit the same reaction that being fed by your father does.
I had additionally completely forgotten how foolish it is to allow a baby to hold an eating utensil.
After she had eaten a few spoonfuls of the rice/carrots/bananas/whatever else was in there concoction that my wife had prepared, my daughter began getting fidgety in the cushioned eating chair. She repeatedly tried to grab my hand whenever the spoon approached her mouth, and after a short while, she attempted to grab the spoon itself.
Sure, why not? Hadn’t I read that parents should encourage their children to become more active in the eating process?
Hadn’t I NOT read about how babies can move their little hands amazingly fast when they feel motivated?
SPLAT went the porridge in an incandescent arch of brilliant white, red, and green over her right shoulder and onto the dining room floor. She stared at the end of the spoon, then quickly grabbed the bowl with her other hand and attempted to do the same over the left shoulder.
Right. No more spoon!
And of course once the play toy is taken away, the crying begins.
What else could I do but allow her to keep the spoon for a while? It became obvious that she was no longer interested in eating food, so I simply let her bang away on the plastic food tray in front of her for a few minutes while I cleaned up the mess on the floor.
Oh, well. At least she hadn’t gotten any in her hair.