Monday, December 19, 2005

Every day, a bad review

I love to cook. I get tremendous joy and pleasure out of creating in the kitchen. This pleasure is generally compounded by compliments from my audience. Tom would not touch a vegetable when I met him, and now he clamors for tomatoes, stewed greens, and mushrooms in any form. I give myself some of the credit. The rest goes to Alice Waters and the California sunshine. I tend to shun recipes, or use them for general guidance only. I can go into almost any kitchen and create a meal from whatever I find in the pantry.

My current job involves a lot of time in the kitchen. I get to cook all the time. 14-month-olds, after all, are supposed to take six meals a day. After shopping for organic produce and foods without hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, or nitrates, I return home to steam vegetables, simmer soups, and dice foods into toddler-appropriate sizes. I arrange brightly colored offerings on Munch's food tray, and place them before him deferentially. Time and time again, after only a cursory glance, a mere sniff in the direction of my carefully crafted, nutritionally balanced meals, he closes his eyes, pokes his little nose in the air, and turns his head as far away from the food as possible, remnicent, perhaps, of Martha Stewart's reactions to her first prison meals. If the head turning tactic does not have the desired effect, he looks me dead in the eye, and, with his right arm fully extended, grabs the juiciest morsel on his tray, flinging it backwards so that it ricochets off the white wall before coming to rest in the food graveyard under his chair. If he could articulate his sentiments, I believe it would go something like this:

"Once again you insult me your foul "food;" The ketchup does not hide your true intentions. You will not use your culinary tactics to keep me in my place - indeed, I use this opportunity to keep you in yours."

I am not sure what he is holding out for - a nice plate full of extension cords perhaps? Or maybe just my wallet filled with dollar bills and paper receipts, served with a side of staples.

At any rate, his constant rejection has turned the haven of my kitchen into a purgatory of sorts, where I try and try again to please my master so that I may move on to the next level. By early evening, when it is time to start thinking about dinner, I am so dejected that I cannot possibly muster the inspiration or even the interest in cooking for adults. I cannot wash another dish, I cannot wipe up another spill. Dinner for us will consist of whatever I can pull from the freezer and heat on a paper towel in the microwave. Maybe tomorrow he'll eat something other than bananas. Maybe tomorrow I will cook dinner.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Today he walks, and, once again, our lives are forever changed.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New word

Yesterday, when the Winnie the Pooh chipper music toy with no off button had pushed me to my limits as I was trying to re-wire the stereo to the TV, I misspoke and demanded that Griffin hand over the "annoising" toy. I'm calling Merriam or Webster, who ever is in charge these days.

What evil manufactures make these Disney-inspired instruments of torture, with no volume control and no off switch? I can just picture the evil geniuses they employ who create pre-recorded "music" and sound effects perfectly designed to draw children in (the first animal sound is free!) and push parents slowly over the edge. I think it is all part of some plan created by pediatrician from the 50s who thinks that parents should yell at their children and send them to bed without supper, as it builds character.

Well, there will be no character-building in my household. Removing the batteries is a wonderful alternative.

As far as food goes these days, Griffin and I have worked out an arrangement. I put food down in front of him, and walk out of the room or start doing the dishes. He can choose to eat the food or play with the food. Some days he lives on fruit and waffles. And that is okay with me. He'll eat vegetables and coq au vin when he is good and ready.