The kids have been running some sort of noise-relay so there’s not been a moment of silence since you were woken in the predawn gloom, the toddler won’t tolerate being out of your arms for more than 23 seconds, and it starts pelting down just before you head out to feed the chickens, but you’ve made it to dinner-prep time and by some miracle the only swearing you’ve done has been in your head. You’re on the countdown for bedtime, you can see the wine at the end of the tunnel, and then something happens. Just a little thing, like the children giving each other facial tattoos with a marker pen, or the fire going out while you were peeling potatoes, or reaching into the onion bag and coming out with a green spotted mess. A FFS moment.
Amongst a bevy of others, I’ve been having onion issues. A while ago I had a bag containing not one lacking an unattractive blotch of mould. It was enough to make me seriously consider making a complaint. Okay, that’s an outright lie. I had an asymmetrical haircut a month or so back and I couldn’t even bring myself to complain about that, let alone some mouldy onions. I’m just no good at confrontation. Besides, the hairdresser might have had an inner ear infection making her snip off kilter; she could have been drunk. Benefit of the doubt and all that. Instead of fuss-making I chose instead to take my hair elsewhere, and have a therapeutic snark with my girlfriends. So it was with the onion situation; off to an alternative shop I went, teaching the local supermarket staff a valuable lesson in the process I’m sure.
As it turns out, I owe the good people of the Fresh Produce department an apology. The first two onions from the new batch were pristine, but those following harboured the same splodgy green bits as did their predecessors. The source of onion problem, clearly not the fault of the supermarket, remained a mystery. Perhaps it’s been a bad season for onions? Perhaps there’s something about my vege cupboard making them degrade with such irritating rapidity? Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hung up about mouldy onions anyway? Perhaps.
It soon emerged the mould was not the fault of a great onion plague, nor the environmental conditions of their cupboard home. It was my wrecking-ball of a not-quite-two year old son who was the culprit. Alerted to probable mischief by an ominous silence, I discovered him one afternoon parked up on the kitchen floor surrounded by newly purchased onions, all of which he’d sampled and tossed unceremoniously away. He was about twenty onions in and in the time I stood watching he made dents in three more, through the skin and all. Unimpressed, he lobbed each over his shoulder before moving onto the next. I’m still not sure whether to be concerned about the apparent ineffectiveness of experiential learning on his understanding of the nature of onions or to be impressed by his dogged optimism in the quest for one that tasted good and didn’t make his eyes water.
Having said that, I wasn’t particularly surprised to find him sitting there in search of the perfect onion. In fact, I don’t know why I didn’t put two and two together before I saw him sinking his teeth in. This is the child who will take on the cat in order to get his hands on some ‘miaow crackers’, who once (thanks to all that is holy, only once) ate chicken poo without flinching, and who prompted the panicked shout of ‘Mum, Lachie’s got a dead bird in his mouth’ upon finding one of the cat’s not-so-recent victims in the garden. In short, he’s keen on his kai…and anything even slightly resembling it.
And while we do have to keep locks on the pantry, the fridge, and now, apparently, the vege cupboard, and it’s clear from his foraging habit our fruit crop will never be safe, I’ve never been too worried about the lad’s appreciation of all things food related. There was one doctor’s appointment where he was off the scale on the growth chart and the doctor had the audacity to use the words ‘super-obese’ to describe a five month old whose diet was 90% breast milk. I did feel a tiny bit worried for about three minutes but what was I going to do? Let my baby go hungry? Apparently, yes, that was exactly what I was supposed to do. Pfft. This boy had arm chub and pillowy cheeks to maintain.
Now, at almost two he’s a big, gorgeous lad, destined (according to a number of hopeful sports enthusiasts in my life) for the front row of one code of football or another. He’s lost his marshmallowy arm bracelets as all babies do, but his cheeks are just as squishable as ever and long may that last. I’m guessing he’s not so far to the extreme right of the bell curve nowadays, but I wouldn’t know, having long since given up consulting the growth chart or giving any credence to its associated labels.
As for my doctor friend and his helpful advice regarding hefty five-month olds…ugh.
There are mothers, already worried about every decision they make and everything their baby does or doesn’t do, under enormous pressure to do the ‘right’ thing and do it with confidence, who might take that label of ‘super obese’ and let it weigh them down in a different way. Mothers who might drop one feed and feel dreadful as their baby cries with an empty tummy, or who might suffer because they keep up the feeds but are terrified they’re signing their child up for a lifetime of bad dietary habits.
I made a conscious decision, one I’ve had to remind myself is the right one (because mummy-guilt is a hovering spectre, always ready to settle) not to let myself do either. I don’t have many hard and fast rules when it comes to infants, but if my child is hungry, I’m going to feed him. I refuse to cause my baby distress by letting him be hungry, and I refuse to feel guilty for meeting his needs.
So, Doctor Growth Chart, how do you like them onions?