Last weekend, we had a fun graduation and welcome home party for Elisabeth. She and her good friend, Audrey (who studied in India with her) spent many hours making our kitchen smell like a real Indian kitchen, and the food was awesome.
Timothy was dressed up in an orange kurta (long shirt) and white pants. He looked adorable strolling the grounds in his new outfit, but also looked like he might start spouting out words of wisdom, given that he looked wiser in his kurta than when he’s waddling around in a white onesie.
Balloons are magical things. Most kids are drawn to them like a bee to honey. Heck, so are adults — you should how much fun we had watching the hot air balloon fiesta (with over 500 hot air balloons) when we lived in Albuquerque.
Anyway, we’ve had the ‘welcome home’ balloon from Elisabeth’s return floating on the living room ceiling for the past few weeks. From time to time, Timothy remembers that it’s there and pulls it down by the string and hits it or tries in vain to wrestle with it.
This morning, I sensed (and also smelled) a very dirty diaper, and the crabby redhead was in no mood for a diaper change. So I picked him up and carried him against my side — like a very reluctant football – into his room. As we walked past, he grabbed the string and dragged that balloon into his room, probably for security in case things got messy.
Timothy has, for a long time, fed himself (or else thrown) the pieces of food placed on his high chair tray. And for awhile, we’ve had two modes of eating yogurt – we feed it to him, or we hold the container while he uses a spoon to scoop it out, though the latter gets much messier. Timo recently took over the whole process, including cradling the yogurt container with his right arm while he scoops it out with his left.
Seeing this little leap of progress reminds me of how funny – and sometimes frustrating – mealtime with Timothy can be.
In fact, I would say that serving a meal to a two year old can be like directing an elementary school play – with each scene and its characters (the food) cued up and ready to go and waiting anxiously for their turn. And it’s all about presentation,
and keeping the parents happy. First comes the fruit, and don’t let the toast fingers sneak in until the sausage is completely gone. If the banana isn’t looking so ripe, you might need a late understudy, like grapes. (actually, one big difference is that you’ll never see food leave the stage in mid scene because it has to go to the bathroom)
Though as I think about it, mealtime with a two year old is more like a chess match. You watch your opponent, stay calm and try to think three moves ahead. You lead with the diced peaches and try at all costs to protect your sippy cup. But wait, he countered by brushing the diced peaches off of his tray? ‘No worries, we’ll regroup and try another peach offensive after we regain some momentum with the wheat Chex.’
But actually, feeding a two year old may be as simple as a boxing match. You’ve been training and preparing for this moment and you have a plan, but to paraphrase Iron Mike Tyson, ‘Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face by a flying Mandarin orange.’ And that’s when you scramble and just try to get out of that meal without a change of clothing – for either of you.
It’s a poker game, it’s a marketing focus group, it’s improvisational comedy. It’s all of those things and more rolled into one — and we’re lucky that we have a good and hearty eater (which is why TRBL fills out that orange kurta so well). And that’s why it can be fun – but also sometimes a wee bit frustrating. Because while we may be in a hurry and planning serve a quick and efficient one act meal, the little king may decide that he’s in the mood to perform a long Sheakespeare piece and is not interested in rushing the creative process. And guess who’s likely to win that battle?
Actually, the Shakespearean drama is all good — that is until the Mandarin oranges start flying…