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Dinner and a Show

As a performer earlier in life, I’ve certainly done my fair share of crappy dinner theatre: singing and dancing my way across the stage, taking care not to slip on a stray piece of lettuce – good times.  I never thought it would be necessary training for becoming a mommy.

Madeleine’s a pretty good eater – she’s never really refused food or thrown it (yet) – but I still find myself going to ridiculous lengths to try to get a $%&* bowl of prunes down her throat.  And she likes prunes!
She’s got a pretty good attention span for her age, but let’s face it, she’s 6 ½ months, so even pretty good isn’t that great in the grand scheme of things.  When I put her down in the bumbo sitter she’s alert and anticipatory; as the bib goes on, she’s aquiver with excitement.  She starts bouncing her legs up and down, making a happy “Heh heh heh” noise as the spoon comes into view.  She unhinges her jaw and joyfully envelops the spoon with her mouth.  My cat walks behind me, Madeleine glances at her, and . . . we’re done.  Maddie’s in a trance, spoon in mouth, food unswallowed, for a good 20 seconds or so.  Let her catch a glimpse of the trees blowing in the wind outside, and she becomes Buddha-like in her contemplation, waving off my ever-more-insistent sing-song voice like a pesky but inconsequential gnat.  It takes my physically turning the chair towards me for her to drag her attention back; then she catches sight of the spoon and the bowl, and OH PRUNES!!  YUMMY!!  WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO??
To that end, in order to keep mealtimes focused and under an hour and crying-free, I’ve done some things I’m not proud of.  And will surely do them again.  Judge not until you’ve sung a mile in my character shoes.
First off, there’s the singing.  My daughter’s got her very own, professional, card-carrying stage actress giving her a live floorshow three times a day.  “Little Red Caboose” is the sure-fire pleaser, guaranteed to get the mouth open.  Show tunes work well to keep her focused on me, but sometimes she becomes enraptured (I modestly like to think it’s my amazing talent, but I’m guessing she’s zoning out about something else, like how much she likes her toes) and forgets to swallow.  So then it’s back to “Little Red Caboose.”  The Beatles are a good interlude, but the songs aren’t range-y enough to keep her attention.  I’m telling you, she’s a tough critic.

december_05_003.jpgThen there’s her habit of becoming enamoured of a specific object, needing to stare at that object in order to function.  Sometimes it’s the cat, and I’ll willingly throw kitty on the sacrificial altar and trap her panicked furry body if it gets the bowl emptied.  And sometimes it’s something you can’t anticipate.  One evening she became so enthralled with my right foot she kept turning around to stare at it.  In desperation, I moved my foot towards my face to bring her attention back front.  It worked, but she then followed the foot back around.  So I took the “I am the boss of you, not the other way around” stand, and made the executive decision to feed her with one hand while holding my foot in front of my face with the other.  Brian got the picture to remember that charming night.
And for the last part of the floor show – clean up, replete with special effects.  My daughter will start screaming if you try to wipe her face clean, unless you make Star Wars tie-fighter sounds while doing it.  I kid you not. 
We’re keeping that little gem undocumented, I promise you.


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