Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Food Issue

Zoe is beginning to eat like an adult. No, I don’t mean she tucks a napkin onto her lap and politely places one bite-size morsel into her mouth at a time. No, I mean she is eating the same quantity as an adult. For a typical dinner these days she is likely to eat an entire hotdog (natural turkey dog with no by-products, thank you) and half of an avocado, sometimes with a few pieces of pasta thrown into the mix. She can easily eat six golf ball sized oranges, and usually will eat them as fast as I can peel them. And unlike most of her foods she doesn’t even waste time taking them out of her mouth once they are in. She can still be picky, and periodically we need to convince her that she actually likes something, which usually means getting her to cry so we can shove a spoonful of whatever we have into her mouth. Once she tastes it she will stop crying and gobble it up. But if she likes something she uses the palm of her hand to cram it into her mouth as fast as she can.

I am a relatively neat person and I don’t like sticky messes, so I’ve learned to practice Zen calmness at meal times (repeat five times before during and after meals: om a-ri da-ra sa-ba-ha). For example, I took Zoe out to lunch at a local diner (taking Zoe out for lunch is something I do pretty regularly). I usually try to choose things that we can share and that are relatively neat, like sliced turkey or something with big beans. On this occasion I ordered a taco salad with beef chili (mostly because I was tired of turkey sandwiches). There were a number of reasons this was a mistake. It came coated in finely shredded cheese, and she is not supposed to have cheese until she is one, so I had to clean off each piece of food I put in front of her. Also, the chili had far too few beans, so I had to dig through the salad like a diamond miner. While we were waiting I, in a moment of carelessness, left the water glass a little too close to Zoe and looked away for a brief moment. She had already thrown the paper placemat and the crayons to the floor, so fortunately they did not get wet. Everything else did. Then lunch arrived. Zoe is at that stage where she likes to see everything that goes into her mouth, even if it’s already there. I will feed her a little guacamole, one of her favorites, and she will ooze it out onto her fingers, play with it for a moment, then try to get it back into her mouth. She does this with every bite of everything we feed her (with the exception of tiny orange pieces—standard orange slices she will squeeze until the juice puddles around her). It seems like she is eating a lot these days, but I suspect that at least half of what leaves the spoon is actually ending up on her or on a surface near her. Normally our lunches out are relaxing, but I left the diner feeling a bit worn out. I’m not sure I’d be welcomed back into that particular diner anytime soon. I think from now on I will make sure that they have turkey sandwiches on the menu before I sit down.

See photos of Zoe at

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