At Leo’s one-year appointment, Dr. O’Connor suggested a balanced diet including plenty of protein. Nothing wrong with the muenster cheese, ricotta, yogurt, farmer cheese, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese… But maybe some egg, meat, fish, or poultry too.
I’ve offered—little shreds of chicken, flakes of fish, scrambled egg, even some chopped hot dog—and Leo has seemed to object mostly for textural reasons. So I went shopping, and I thought it all out, and today I made meatballs. Little ones. Tender ones. Flavorful, yet not too. I used the food processor, and all in all it seemed like I’d come up with the kind of easy, kid-friendly recipe I could make now and again. A sprinkle of pecorino and a side of salad and we’re all happy. I froze a few meatballs for another night, and was feeling pretty good.
I washed Leo’s grimy little hands and sat him in his highchair. I popped on the frog bib, then the tray. I offered water. Then steamed peas and butternut squash cubes. And some meatball. And some pasta. I’d put some minced greens in the sauce. I felt that this was balanced. Plus, I had another seventy-gadjillion meatballs ready for Aaron and me to eat.
I played it cool, because Leo is free to make up his own mind about what he likes, and I want him to eat for the pleasure of it, not to please me. I try to believe that he will eat what he needs. I’m playing it cool now too, but you can probably see where this is all going.
That’s right. The floor. As I sat there playing it cool and watching Leo enjoy some peas out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the highchair tray was not clicked into place. So I tried to click it in toward the frog bib. Instead, I got the attention of the discerning restaurant critic behind the bib. “Oooh” he said through rounded lips, peas and squash stuffed into each cheek. And in a second, the whole tray was upside down on my feet. Which kind of hurt my feet.
“Oh yes!” I told myself. “This is one of those moments when a mom has the opportunity to have the patience of a saint!” I cleaned up the floor, removing my socks out of necessity, re-loaded then repositioned the tray with a purposeful click. Leo did not notice dinner take two, because in the interim he’d caught sight of the fruit bowl, and was reaching, like a heartbroken lover, like a dying man, like a one-year-old with separation anxiety, stretching his fingers towards the fruit so intently that we both stopped breathing for a moment.
“Nana,” he finally uttered, just as Aaron walked in. “Welcome home,” I said. “Leo just started talking. Do you think I should give him a banana for dinner?” “I don’t know,” Aaron answered, looking around the kitchen to get the lay of the land.