Fatherhood Adventures

He likes everything.

That’s what we have discovered in our first week of feeding little Beckett table food.

At our recent 9-month well check visit with the pediatrician, we were given the go-ahead to expand his diet to the world of our food, rather than simply relying on the pureed stuff that comes in a jar at the grocery store.

My favorite part of any pediatrician appointment is the big weigh-in at the beginning when they put him on the scale and measure his head and length. We learned his weight was in the 85th percentile and his length in the 60th percentile, leading the doctor to the obvious conclusion he is a little taller and heavier than others his age. In other words, he’s a big baby. No news to us, of course.

Aside from the weigh-in and the dreaded immunizations, the most significant note coming out of this appointment was the move to incorporate certain table foods into his diet. Over the last week, it has been fun to experiment with his food likes and dislikes, of which there are none so far. So far we have tried eggs, spaghetti, lasagna, macaroni ‘n cheese and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

He seems to love it all after he gets over the initial surprise of it. The first reaction to something new is quite funny. He plays with it for a minute in his mouth, pushes it out with his tongue in an effort to figure out the new texture, gums it some and then eventually swallows it. Every once in a while there’s a gag-like gesture thrown in, putting the fear of you know what in his parents. That’s usually followed by some swift leg kicks, odd smiles and some outstretched arms, proving all is well.

After he’s figured out that he likes it, we just let him go to town on his own and kick back and watch the show. His chubby little fingers grab at the food as if it’s running away from him. Whatever he’s able to snatch is quickly brought to his face with an open hand. Some food makes it in his mouth, some misses the mark and ends up on his cheek, nose, chin, neck and forehead. I like watching that flat hand reach his face and waiting to see whether anything made it in his mouth or not. Some of it just sticks to his clammy fingers.

These are moments for the video camera. The noises and the looks need to be preserved because they are classic. Of course, along with these precious memories is the mess. Oh, the mess, an aspect I am trying to come terms with quickly.

I am not a neat freak by any means, but, for some reason, I am having a time adjusting to how dirty he gets during a feeding. It’s not just the kid and his clothes that get dirty; it’s the entire five-foot radius around him. I am trying to just take it all in, forcing myself to just let the mess be while he’s eating and clean him afterwards.

When my wife sees me overreact to the filth all over his sleeves, face and hands, a simple look say it all. She has never said anything but I am sure she must be thinking, ‘sure, this bothers you, but not that espresso mess I asked you to clean up off the kitchen floor five hours ago.’ Or maybe it could go something like, “this gets under your skin, really? Not the dirty laundry piling up by the day.” Okay, I admit my priorities get out of whack every now and again.

If we call the untidiness of a feeding my challenge to overcome, my wife’s would be the food itself. She is struggling with giving him the same food we eat. All her motherly instincts seem to be telling her he’s not ready. While I try to give him a bit of everything I eat, she prefers a little bit at a time and can even resemble the mama bird at times. I catch her every once in a while putting a piece of food, like a noodle, in her mouth first, softening it and then giving it to him. It’s both sweet and hilarious. Some may say unnecessary, but it’s a mom thing.

While we tiptoe into the world of table food, Beckett is ready to jump headfirst. How do I know? He reaches out constantly to grab the food off our plates. Again, it seems the parents are having a tougher time dealing than the kid.

So far it seems his favorite food is … basically, whatever is in front of him at the time. There has not been anything thus far he will not eat, but I do think scrambled eggs have been the biggest hit so far.

Last week, while eating with friends at Jimmy’s Kitchen, we ordered our first kids meal – a scrambled egg. After that now familiar immediate reaction of uncertainty, he worked himself into a frenzy. Slamming both hands down on the table and using them to simultaneously jam the eggs in his mouth results in some going in, a lot getting on him and more on the floor. Of all, the least amount appears to end up in his mouth. At times, he even tries to stick the plate in his mouth. Did I mention he has a healthy appetite?

Another favorite of his appears to be spaghetti, which just happens to be about the messiest. It may be my imagination, but Beckett seems to get a kick out of making the mess, a lot of which is the result of his ongoing battle with that hand-eye coordination thing.

Perhaps my favorite moment of any feeding is that goofy smile and giggle with a full mouth of food. The parent in me is probably supposed to tell him to chew his food with his mouth shut. However, at this point in time, I laugh right along with him. It just seems more appropriate these days.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.