Watching our son as he systematically, near-scientifically ensnares a pea in his pincer grip, I delight in trying to guess, through the admittedly spotty powers of daddy divination, the exact moment he decides whether he will jettison said pea from his tray with a cavalier flick of the wrist (to our Cavalier King Charles’s delight) or will place it ever-so-delicately into his gaping bird-like beak/mouth/maw.
Eating, for him, is a celebration. One doesn’t need daddy divination to interpret the various coos — but more often vigorous shrieks — as a toddler’s thumbs-up. I like to imagine it a celebration of food, of family, of life, yet all too often food sings all the good parts in this performance. There is always a moment, towards the inevitable end, when a certain sparkle, the you-can’t-find-where-I-hid-my-other-shoe look that harrows up the soul and freezes the blood, glitters forth from between the upper-and-lower eyelashes.
I imagine this look to say, “I’m entirely content, perhaps even at the belt-loosening stage of the meal, yet still I will eat!” The imperative “feed me” has muted by this point from a red alert into a soft yellow, systems no longer on overload.
And his feet! Don’t get me started on their bouncing, bursting outward and collapsing inward again, out then in, synchronized, enacting through their motion a dance of consumption. Feed me! FEED ME!
In the course of writing this, I’m realizing that I’ve largely forgotten (already!) his eating song, a type of humming — inherited from me — the give-away that I as a toddler had once again snuck into the closet to eat from the dog food bowl (this last part of the inheritance seems to have passed him by).
Perhaps the humming has slipped my mind because of the recent influx of new noises he makes (hand slapping the tray, lots of lip smacking and popping, croons, groans, shrieks, all in the name of pleasure, of delight, of being alive, let’s say, while admitting at least to ourselves, that it’s really about the food, especially if there’s peanut butter involved.