Check your plate.

This is what we say when the fussing and pointing starts. “Check your plate. It’s right in front of you.” Our son, from the throne we’ve mistaken for a high chair, is fond of pointing out the inability of his minions (us) to sate him with the proper yom-yoms at the proper time. But he voices his objections before he has fully assessed the situation. And by assess the situation, I mean LOOK THE $&@# RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!

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See? There’s food. Lots of it. Different colored food, even.

I guess, technically, he is looking in front of him. What I want him to do is look down, at the tray where we–omnipotent beings that we are–have placed the portions and proportions that we deem appropriate. The plate of extras on the table to the side of his high chair should not be his concern.

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Complicating matters: OUR food. It’s basically impossible to eat when he’s not eating. But bringing a foreign food (and by that I mean any item that is not on his plate) into his line of sight is another sure-fire way to incite baby pandemonium. He’ll point and say “dah” which is his polite-ish way of saying, “Give me that now, you sneaky bastard.”

I should amend a statement from above. Foreign food is not limited to the food that we eat, but don’t give him. It can be the exact same thing that’s on his tray! If it’s on his tray? Boring. If it’s in a bowl or plate or cup that is in our hands that we’re not sharing…well, it is clearly the most amazing food product ever created and he MUST have some. This is why I feel like 82% of my diet right now is coffee. He steals everything else.

For awhile, I tried to eat my food in front of him, but quickly. Like a dog devours the just-poured kibbles in his dish. But that just seemed to make Declan more intrigued…and more peeved I wasn’t turning over the spoon to him. So now I have a new tactic. I’ve started hiding from my own son in the kitchen and scarfing down food out of his line of sight. Colleen has apparently been doing the same thing. We came to the same conclusion separately: our kid cannot be trusted to share food.

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Another annoying food development: the kid who loved bananas so much he’d eat three in a day (and more if we hadn’t cut him off) has now started treating “nanas” as a tactile experiment rather than as sustinence. For someone as mess-averse as yours truly, this is a truly horrifying turn of events. There’s not much nastier than smeared and smushed up banana. Especially when it find its way to the dark recesses of the car seat, or the crevices between his thigh rolls.

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So now when he says “nana” and points at our fruit bowl, I am cautious. I slice it up and put it on his tray. But I am ready, at a moment’s notice, to revoke banana rights and go hide in the kitchen (eating, of course) and let the dog clean up the remnants of the potassium-rich white and brown mush that we call breakfast.

Other challenges have emerged. This, for example:

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Declan gets points for creativity but loses them for turning a functioning milk-dispensing apparatus into, well, a non-functioning milk-dispensing apparatus.

And food is on Declan’s mind even when he’s not eating. His most recent obsession is our blender, which he calls “brrrrrrmmmm” for the sound it makes. Every morning, it’s “brrrrmmmm” this and “brrrrrrmmmm” that and why aren’t you taking me to the “brrrrrrmmmm”? He likes to press the buttons and turn the knobs. When I don’t take him to see the blender, he cries. When I let him play with the blender, and then set him down so we can go do something else, he cries. When the blender is empty he just stares off into the distance and goes “brrrrrrmmmm.”

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But every morning (okay, just the past two mornings) I tell him that when he goes down for a nap, I will fill up the blender with fruits and veggies and then, when he wakes up, we can turn it on and he can press the button and turn the fruit and veggies into a smoothie. And something really funny happens as soon as I bring him over to the counter and set him down and he sees the full blender and I tell him to press the button. He moves his finger toward the button. Then he stops, turns his head toward me, opens his mouth, and gives me a kiss. Then he turns away and presses the button. And the blender goes “brrrrrrrmmmmm.” And he turns around and kisses me again. It’s as if he’s saying: “Yes. Good minion. You can be taught.”

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