Thu 26 Feb 2009
Originally uploaded by o&poecormier
her first solids, if a thin rice-oatmeal gruel can really be considered solids.
and there i am, pimping the mush, coaxing her little bird mouth to open, beaming with pride when she reaches out for more. smiling, watching, as i push her off the ledge.
into whatever her life’s relationship with food will be.
until today, it’s been subsumed in her relationship with me. she lights up when she sees me, this girl, but her love is that of the gourmand for a good meal. i am her walking cheeseburger, her magically reappearing smorgasbord. but lately, she’s been watching suspiciously as the rest of us bite and munch our way through our days, realization clearly dawning that she’s been missing something. yesterday she took a swipe at my ginger cookie as she lolled in my arms, and nearly wrested it clear out of my hand.
time, obviously, to break out the gruel.
her reaction telegraphed across her face like a storm squawl that ended at the pot of gold, all what in the sam hill is THAT and oh oh oh lord have mercy where can i get more?!? only gruel and thin gruel at that but she comes from a long line of canny Scots on my side and the gruel we call porridge is haute cuisine for our kind so she had no complaints. at least until an hour later when she vomited all over the kitchen and then spent three hours fussing and crying out in her sleep.
uh, i’m going to blame the teething for that one. i’m hoping food is kinder to her than that.
what i’m hoping is that she and food have a long and happy life together. i’m hoping that the dairy sensitivities fade as she grows, so that she can someday enjoy the melting sensation of a soft brie – or Velveeta – or her tongue. i’m hoping no real allergies develop, the scary kind, the anaphylactic kind that will leave us scrambling to shield her from foods as from traffic or dread disease.
i hope she will find pleasure in food, in trying things…at least as an adult. i hope she will be more like her father, the culinary adventurer, and not like me. for me it’s mind over matter, food. i’ve never even tried a clam because the idea of eating its WHOLE BODY freaks me out. i’ve passed up caribou eyeballs, silkworm larvae, wok-fried cockroaches. i’m not sorry. but i am kind of sorry that i’m the sort of person more likely to starve than adapt. i hope she can come to see food as less fraught with strictures of culture and comfort than i do.
and i hope the pleasures she finds in eating are not false promises, substitutes for love that is never enough, empty fill for aches she cannot face. i hope that i can give her what she needs to grow strong and self-confident, so that the inverse of our current nursing relationship does not come to pass and find her seeking ME in a cheeseburger, or ten.
i hope she can love herself with food, respect her body in the ways she feeds it. i hope she never looks in the mirror with loathing, or spends seasons with her head down a toilet or her mouth barred shut in a desperate feint to control the mess of living.
i hope there is enough food. i hope i can feed her well and healthily, without too much fear for the grocery pennies or for empty silos, drought, famine. she is born to plenty, this one, all double chin and thigh rolls, no trace of preemie limbs left. yet so many starve in other places while food rots here. and her generation may know more of that than i can imagine, if we keep driving the planet beyond capacity, using resources in ways that maximize profits and not human dignity, decency. every tuna can in the local grocery store here is labelled product of Thailand. there is no sustainable tuna fishery anywhere near Thailand, according to any sources i can find. will such a shortsighted system survive her lifetime? we are precariously imbalanced. and selfishly, because she is my child, i hope the collapse is not so drastic that she must scrabble in the dirt for sustenance as so many must already.
what i wish for her is food to feed her…food as blessing, without the curse of too much or too little. with tears in my eyes, because i find it hard to believe that such a thing could be possible.
all this i offer up, smiling at her as fat hands reach for the bowl. today, daughter. today, you started.