We’re now wrapping up our last week at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, or as I’ve come to know it: our seaside mansion escape. Our stay has been wonderful and I’m somewhat concerned that Gabe will go into withdrawal, as the energetic, gregarious extrovert won’t have dozens of people to wave and smile at or have rolling lawns to frolic upon. But considering we—as in only Gabe and dad—are going up to visit the Grandparents in Maine, I’m sure we’ll get by. (I will now try to stop ending my sentences with prepositions.)
Next week we begin the next big travel phase, where Jenny flies to Chicago for a week and we go to Maine. This marks the first time ever that Gabe and Jenny will be apart for more than 24 hours. As I said before, it will be a learning experience for all of us. Gabe will learn to get by without Jenny, Jenny without Gabe, me without Jenny—lots of learning! But I think it will be overall beneficial. I’m glad she’s getting to go take advantage of her professional opportunities, but we will definitely miss her when she’s gone and we look forward to picking her up at the airport!
In any case, that’s for next week. This week, nothing “exciting” happened, unlike last week. (Update from last week: The dermabond has finally fallen off and the cut is healing well. I forgot how small the actual cut is.) Other than trying to keep his cut covered and out of the sun, there were some fun and interesting moments:
Food (and sleep) must be two of the bigger topics for new parents. When will my child eat real food? How much should they eat? How small should a “bite” be? How long does weaning take? What’s the right way to wean? And what about nutritional content? And so on. And, if that’s not enough, there seems to be some twisted parental pride wrapped up in eating. Oh, John eats everything—he loooves kale. Or perhaps: Mary’s not eating food yet? Well, Jill started eating our quinoa-spinach-raspberry blends when she was only six months old.
As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, then there’s the not-so-subtle my-child-is-the-best/earliest/most diverse/etc.-eater contest, with optional guilt imposed by those who actually make their child’s food.
We decided early on, after one or two attempts, that we don’t have enough time between us to actually make Gabe’s baby food blends, especially when he was in the phase where he would taste food, but not actually ingest it. If he wants to eat our adult food, great, but we can’t make extra food that goes to waste constantly. Besides, those little squeeze packs are fantastic and should satisfy every parent, no matter how stringent (read: crazy) their nutritional regimen (read: regime).
Anyway, Gabe finally stared weaning about three months ago and is now a full-fledged eater. But, now that I’ve been spending so much time with him and enjoyed many, many meals with him, I’ve noticed a strange transition:
he now prefers to use utensils.
Just yesterday we were sitting down to lunch (full disclosure: we have a cafeteria with salad bar, so I’m totally spoiled). He was being obstinate, turning up his nose at everything that he usually loves: Cheerios, chickpeas, hummus, steamed beets, cucumber. Nothing was working.
He kept pointing at the fridge, where we keep the yogurt and peanut butter, his two favorite foods. I try to give him those after he’s had other food, so he broadens his taste horizons and doesn’t have a body-by-peanut-butter. In any case, he was pointing and crying and doing everything he could to get out of his high seat. Then for some reason I can’t remember, I gave him a spoon. Everything changed: he took Cheerios and put them on the spoon and into his mouth. Then the chickpeas and hummus and beets and nibbled at the cucumber. It was a sea-change. I guess he sees Jenny and me eating with utensils and wants to do it too, even though his hand-eye (hand-mouth?) coordination is still iffy. But what a change! It’s amazing what sometimes happens with a small redirection.
I’ve also loved watching him learn new skills. One of my favorite things is that he’s now catching on to our commands (“put this here”, “bring me your shoes”), which include a game he and Jenny created called: Is It a Fetching Chapeau? The game goes like this: We take some object that’s lying around—a spoon, a book, a Rubik’s cube, a bowl, whatever—and put it on his head and ask Is it a fetching chapeau? Usually he smiles at us, reaches up and grabs whatever thing we’ve put on his head and takes it off. But the other day, again at breakfast or lunch (they all seem to run together at some point), I pointed to his empty Cheerios carton, asking if it was a hat and if it went on his head. He then took the carton and put it on top of his head! It was a fetching chapeau!