“Choooooo, Maeve, choooooo.”
It’s a word I say and action I mimick more times a day, it seems, than the number of breaths I take. This child o’ mine — although quite a healthy eater and adept enough at feeding herself with spoon, fork or finger-pinch, has yet to recognize what constitutes a reasonable — and chewable — bite.
Her cutoff for The Perfect Bite seems to be when her cheeks are stretched to their limits. Ideally, at this point the little chipmunk will then mash and grind or otherwise pulpify the food until she swallows. Sometimes we are this lucky.
But most often, when she reaches Maximum Cheek Intake Level, a panicked look appears on her face that beckons, “For the love of Legos, how did this insanely huge amount of food get shoehorned into my mouth? This cannot be! I simply must … get … it … out.”
And she does. With tongue-pushing and a gentle sputter, out it tumbles, down her chin and into the abyss of the floor beneath her chair (much to my husband’s chagrin, as the floors are one of his household duties).
This morning it got ugly. And the culprit couldn’t have been worse.
Perhaps it’s my distaste for the dark, wrinkly, chewy little bits of weirdness known as raisins that made such an impression. In fact, as I type, my lips are pursed and face is scrunched at the mere mention of the R word. I so dislike raisins I’m actually quite sure that even raisins injected with milk chocolate, thrice-dipped in white chocolate, embedded in double-chocolate ice cream, then covered with dark chocolate sprinkles would not be granted permission past my lips. (Although, hypothetically, one could fish them out and pile them nearby, partake in the ice cream and sprinkles and, if the coast were absolutely clear, bite down on the darn things to get the chocolate filling inside, finally tucking the empty raisin shells neatly in a napkin as if he or she didn’t have an
unhealthy relationship itty-bitty issue with chocolate. Or raisins. Yes, one could do that. I’m just sayin’.)
But, I’ve digressed. This morning, as my husband toiled at the stove making his girls a hot breakfast in what is a most wonderful weekend tradition, I gave Maevey Gravy the kid-sized red box of raisins so a bleary-eyed me could focus on my steeping tea bag.
A mama mistake if ever there was one. She smiled, half-giggled, and began plucking each tightly packed raisin from the box and popping them into her mouth. Pluck. Pop. Pluck. Pop. Pluck. Pop. Once or twice, her hand would get stuck inside the little box and she’d let out a little yelp, but she’d soon unwedge her fingers, return them to safety and continue with her mission. Pluck. Pop. Pluck. Pop.
Sooner than I would have thought possible, her cheeks stretched to their limits. So as any good mama (who was totally paying attention) would do, I quickly pried the box from her clutch until she could finish the mouthful she had.
This, it seems, was not part of her plan.
There she sat, crying for the box, with her little mouth open so very wide, saliva-laden raisins to its brim. Her little pearly whites interspersed between little, wrinkly, brown bits of dried grape. (See? I said raisins were gross.) When she tried to offer a toddleresque appeal for the Red Box of Raisin Bliss (RBRB), a couple of the wet and wrinkly buggers would fall from her disturbingly full mouth into the abyss below. She’d look down in horror, distraught and desperate for the raisins she’d just lost, and cry even harder. As she did, additional raisins hurtled from her mouth to their demise below. A vicious, vicious cycle — the humor of which, by the way, is totally lost on a 20-month-old.
It was Raisin Mayhem, I tell you. Raisin Mayhem.
Husband and I launched into the “chew, Maeve, chew” routine, explaining over all the screaming that she could have more but first she’d have to chew what she had.
Suddenly, before nary a baby jaw moved up or down, her cheeks returned to their normal level of pudge. A single, leftover tear fell from her big brown eyes. Quiet and calm, she reached toward the RBRB, opened her mouth and asked for more.
The blasted raisins were gone. All 4,398 of them — whole — in one single swallow.
Something tells me I haven’t seen the last of them.