Merry mid-October! It is a little-known fact that during the third year of a child’s life, a holiday is designated, just as the days shorten and the mornings seem especially night-like. It is a subtle holiday, falling on a random Tuesday when everyone has been really busy. The customs by which this holiday is observed differ from family to family. In our home, it is celebrated as follows:
The mother picks up the child from preschool and they discuss Halloween costumes. He wants to be “a round cookie.”
The mother and child walk to a scenic park on a hill, where warm fall sunshine dapples the ground and the low sun glows gold over New Jersey.
The boy beats the crap out of a tree with a very hefty club-like stick. Then he runs around the park holding the stick to his mouth and shouting “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!!! THIS IS MY TRUMPET!!!” while his mother cringes, and suggests that he put on his fleece.
The boy dissolves in snack-related whining and the pair hurries home. A multi-course meal is served. The menu is as follows:
Applesauce, made from last weekend’s U-pick apples
Applesauce with Yogurt
Steamed Green Beans a la Walrus*
2 eggs, scrambled, with ketchup
1 slice whole wheat toast, with butter and plum fruit spread
1 sippy cup milky tepid chamomile tea with a tiny squeeze from the honey bear
*To serve green beans a la walrus, put a bean in each corner of your top lip to make tusks. Eat and repeat.
After the meal, Fables are read on the couch. The one about the Hen and the Apple Tree is recited three times, and that’s it. This is followed by ceremonial piecing together of too-easy puzzles, with kissing and tickling.
Potty and bathtime are observed as usual, with the addition of the rite in which a drop of mommy’s conditioner is rubbed onto the boy’s hair for fun and silkiness.
Striped pajamas are donned and the tale of Peter Rabbit is relived once more. The boy drops off to sleep. The mommy finishes the pot of lukewarm chamomile tea and takes cheer. Sometimes, parenthood seems like it’s just going to keep getting better. Felicitations to you and yours.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.