Currently, the absolutely worst part about owning a baby is the feedings. Not the breast or bottle feedings — there’s nothing too tricky about that after the first couple of weeks. I’m talking about the food feedings. The three-times-a-day, get-that-the-hell-away-from-my-mouth, what-makes-you-think-I-need-to-eat, applesauce explosion, extravaganza. Please note that in the prior sentence, the word applesauce may be replaced with yogurt or blueberries or carrots. You know, just whatever happens to stain the worst on any given day depending on what you’re wearing.
For those that don’t have kids, you might ask, “Why is it so hard to feed a baby?” Well, have you ever tried to get a cat to swallow medicine? No? Don’t have cats? OK, have you ever tried to shovel a spoonful of food in the mouth of a stranger on a bus? Yeah, that’s it. Now you’re with me.
From Trixie’s perspective I can only imagine that she thinks I’m trying to poison her. The second I strap her into the highchair, she starts hollering and getting revved up. It doesn’t matter whether its the sweetest tasting baby carrots or big bowl of spicy chili*. She starts shaking her head back-and-forth “NO” before I can get the spoon anywhere close to her mouth.
Her behavior has lead us to an evolutionary struggle. I’m constantly creating new games, distractions and outright tricks and she’s developing resistance to my attacks after only a few bites.
In general, games don’t work so well. She doesn’t go for the “here comes the airplane” thing. Sometimes we’ll play the game where she throws something on the floor and laughs, laughs, laughs. This is good because it’s pretty easy to stick food in there when she’s cackling. But she’s not always in such a hilarious mood.
Tricks have the shortest life. My favorite was when I would throw a couple of Cheerios on the tray. She would meticulously pinch one and bring it toward her open mouth. In that split second I could shove a spoonful of peas in there. Poor kid. It was such a confusing experience. This deception would only work about two times before she would stop picking up Cheerios at all and just sit there with her mouth sealed shut glaring at me.
Distractions seem to be the way to go. I’ve cycled through every utensil in the kitchen drawer. Ice cream scoop, bottle opener, chop sticks, spatulas and even the jigger. Each of these is good for at least a half-dozen spoonfuls. Recently I discovered the holy grail of mealtime distractions: ice. She gapes openmouthed at the ice as if it were the Hope diamond — for like ten minutes. By simply holding an ice-cube in my hand while letting her paw at it, I can get her to eat an entire jar of baby food. It’s pretty amazing.
Of course, I doubt this will work forever. All ice melts. But when the time comes, I’ve got a back-up plan – something that in Trixie’s eyes is even more sacred and sought after than a brilliant, glinting chuck of ice. Its mellifluous jingling is a Siren song. That’s right, it’s the car keys.
* We don’t feed the baby chili.