T’was rather a frabjous day for us, was yesterday. Emilia began her transformation from a creature who sucks her nutriment from a nipple in liquid form, like any right whale calf, to one who sups solids at table, like the Queen of England*.
I have been remiss about recording Millie’s milestones. I have a Moleskine notebook that bears all of the dates of Mara’s firsts, and pseudo-firsts, events such as:
Wed. June 8 – squeal of delight.
Sat. June 18 – held piglet, 4 mins.
Sun. June 19 – saw and picked up piglet.
Sat. July 16 – giggled/multisyllabic laugh”
It goes on until the day a year later when Mara walked back and forth between Angela and me for the first time. The first time around, we did not already have a five-year-old who was negotiating for her own quotas of attention, so there was more time for documentation. I have rarely reached for my book and pen when Millie has executed her firsts.
It could be argued that we have enjoyed Millie’s firsts more because we haven’t been so busy waiting for them and writing them down. It is anyway the obsessive compulsive in me that wants to have a record of exact dates. And too, maybe all eldest children undergo a similar encyclopedic scrutiny. It is really my hope that Mara will find this information completely dispensible, that she will instead cherish these scratchings only as evidence that we took such an interest in her development, in the goofy way that new parents do. In turn, we hope Emilia will be glad that we watched and enjoyed her without regard to time, measurement, or comparison.
Eating solid food for the first time is a real coming out. Angela was just telling me something she’d read recently about how the first solid foods are not really about nutrition (most of it doesn’t go down anyway). They are about socialization. The baby is joining the family in a ritual that she has witnessed for quite some time and has not been able to take part in. In Millie’s case, when one of us is not holding her during meals she reclines in a little “bouncy seat”, observing this wondrous thrice-daily social event from about six inches off the floor. Now she would become part of that high circle and masticate with us.
Angela steamed up some carrots and pease, then mashed them. We put our little debutante in the high chair – the one Mara used to sit in, bless me for an old sappy dad — and aimed the padded blue spoon toward her mouth as carefully as if we were using clippers to detonate a bomb. Emilia was ready for this. She actually opened her mouth, after some initial scrapping, and let the spoon in and closed her mouth on it. We have a picture somewhere of Mara expressing displeasure through an unhappy face covered in orange yams. Millie was wiggly and wanted to grab the spoon, but seemed to have no objection to the vegetables’ taste per se.
That is not to say she ate them. I think that the feel of something solid in a baby’s mouth makes them keen to eject it. It doesn’t occur to them, natural as the idea is in itself to know one’s world by putting as much of it as possible into one’s mouth, that the substance should be swallowed. Everything that went in was analyzed for a time, then oozed out the front or the side.
After a few mintues of what I imagine Millie regarded as a kind of joke, she started flapping for the real McCoy, something she could drink from a bottle. We obliged, and we considered the event a success.
*This is a royal assumption.