A Little Muh

Strawberries and kitchen shears: a winning combination

My eyes still bleary despite a shower and the coffee I was nursing between snips, I zeroed in on the kitchen shear blades as I sliced strawberries for the Twins’ breakfast. A momentary lapse in concentration could end in a crimson sprinkle even harder to clean off our idiotically-stark-white kitchen counters than the strawberries themselves. (No, we did not choose this color scheme, nor do we own this house, so until this fine publication makes me a kajillionaire, we keep plenty of Magic Erasers on hand.)

We’ve just discovered this scissor method, as opposed to the standard knife approach. When you have to cut up food for two one-year-old mouths as often as we do, you’re willing to try just about anything to avoid the monotony of hacking at a plate-full of adult-sized food for what feels like half an hour. Initially, my wife raved about the new method, claiming, “This is awesome! I don’t hate it that much!”

Sadly, the novelty has worn off, and shearing food is now just about as fun as knifing it, but with the added thrill of increased-finger-loss likelihood. Still, I wasn’t feeling very knifey on this particular morning, so I went with the novel annoyance rather than the mounting one.

The Twins, who had just guzzled their morning milk, were in a fantastic mood, combing the playroom for toys now exciting again after a long night’s sleep. I glanced in from the kitchen every few slices to find them gleefully tossing plush and plastic into the air as if they were in swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin.

Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin

I soon heard the familiar clang of an allegedly-”spillproof”-but-actually-very-spillable snack cup across the bars of the baby gate. It was my son, doing that thing that people in prisons do with their mugs against the bars that I don’t think there’s a word for. “Muh,” my son asserted.

I couldn’t help but laugh. My son had recently picked up on the word “more” while eating, discovering its magical qualities of affording him additional food whenever he so desires. It’s been incredible seeing him use it. While the Twins’ vocabularies are full of identifying nouns (Dada, ball, duck, etc.), this word is different–one that, to me, signifies “muh” direct communication. Instead of just pointing and naming things, he can actually tell us if he’s still hungry, which is infinitely more effective than sitting more food on his tray and waiting to see if he flings it back in our faces.

“Sure, Buddy,” I grinned, taking his snack cup. “You can have more Cheerios.”

My wife emerged from our bedroom having sufficiently business-casualed-out for work, and after reminding the dog not to jump up and shed on her (to no avail), she entered the playroom to bid the munchkins farewell for the day.

The Twins flocked to her, as they’ve come to know the drill. This was the last chance for Mommy Snuggles until later. In the meantime, they’d be stuck with Daddy, who used to get a rock star’s welcome home when he was still teaching almost a year ago, but has become old news now that he’s home five days a week.

My daughter was first, and after some solid XOXOX action, returned to the blanket fort she’d been constructing.

Next was my son, who leaned into Mommy and sat on her lap. Eyeing the clock, my wife grumbled, “Well, I guess I’d better go.”

She lifted my son to his feet and began to stand up herself. My son quickly turned to her with a gravely serious furrowed brow. Looking straight up at Mommy, he spoke.

“Muh. Muh.”

My wife an I exchanged electrified glances.

“Did he just say–” I stammered.

“Oh my God, I think he wants more kisses!” Mommy beamed. “Do you want more kisses from Mommy, Buddy?”

“Muh,” he repeated, reaching his arms upwards.

Heart melting, my wife took a knee as our son giggled his way back into her arms.

I stood there in the kitchen, strawberry-covered scissors still slackly in hand, with a stunned smile. Never before had my son used “muh” for anything but food. Until now.

He was learning.

Jurassic Park Raptors

The Twins and me in our kitchen.

Moments like these are a full spectrum of emotions for me, kind of like the moment in Jurassic Park when the velociraptors figure out how to open doors–it’s simultaneously badass and terrifying. And that’s because for every thrill and chill of seeing their first triumphant moments of clarity, I flash back to the very beginning, to my first triumphant moment of holding two newborns in the hospital, tiny beings still learning to breathe, drink, and machine-gun fart. They started with nothing, and now they’re not only recognizing multiple meanings of words–they’re voicing opinions, problem-solving, becoming independent thinkers.

Holy psychological development, Batman! Am I ready for this?

. . .

Having obtained his additional kisses, my son shouted his patented “Did it!” before launching himself from Mommy’s lap into a victory lap.

He knew kisses meant she was leaving and realized she’d be back soon.

He just wanted a little muh.

.

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22 comments

  1. Jack Stewart

    Awesome post! I’m so looking forward to our first, in just a couple of months. I wonder about the differences between a boy and girl, and you would know as much as anyone. Any nuances that I should keep in mind for when our little man arrives??

    • John Pseudonymous

      Congratulations in advance, man! I’m not going to claim to be an expert–I only know my own experience. I’ve found that my son is “all boy” and my daughter is “all girl.” I don’t know if it’s because we make that distinction side-by-side daily or not, but everyone we know agrees. We’ve found my son is more of a biter, is more interested (and gets deeply engaged) in physical and tangible interaction with toys and objects (rather than books), and loves running around and wrestling with Daddy. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, though, is that every kid is different. It really becomes a matter of seeing what YOUR kid is like, and adjusting accordingly. Preparation is good and makes you ready for several different possible reactions, but only goes so far. Hope that helps, and that you enjoy your little man as much as I do mine. Thanks for reading!

  2. EduDad

    Being a parent is so exciting. I think my favorite time with my kids growing up is when they learn something new. They’re so proud and so am I.

    Cutting strawberries with scissors seems like a real pain in the butt. I’m going to try it.

    • John Pseudonymous

      Me too, man. I live for those moments, especially the victorious smile they rock when they figure something out.

      That was the exact same reaction I had when my wife suggested scissoring strawberries. I thought she was nuts. But it’s like I said–it’s not much more effective. It’s just a way to make it interesting for yourself.

      • John Pseudonymous

        Yeah, the Twins have decent sets of teeth now and can handle bigger chunks, but the Ceremonial Cutting of the Food still remains a staple of mealtime. I’m surprised I haven’t cut myself much either. I’m a terrible klutz and really shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects.

  3. ohpapa

    Thanks for sharing your sons milestone with us! So awesome. Who doesn’t need a little muh mommy? We are expecting our first (a little girl) this July and we’re so excited to start the adventure. Really enjoy your posts John!

    • John Pseudonymous

      Thanks, buddy! I can’t argue with my son–his Mommy is a great kisser. Stoked to hear you’ll be joining the adventure soon. There’s nothing quite like it. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done but easily the most rewarding.

  4. Cari

    Dude, seriously, this almost made me cry. Alright, it made me weepy. Awesome milestone, and post. I never thought of the shearing method, I’m sure it does break up the monotony. Wonder if safety scissors would work? Then the kids can cut their own. Sweet. Wrong as soon as I typed it.

    • John Pseudonymous

      Thanks, Cari! My wife actually teared up while reading it, too, so you’re in phenomenal company.

      Safety Kitchen Shears, now available at stores near you!

      Yeah, that’s one of the best bad ideas I’ve heard in a while. ;)

  5. jetts31

    Love this. I think that’s what I miss most aboit my kids being babies. All the new things they learn on a daily basis. I know how you feel, I remember the pride and joy at watching my girls grow everyday makes all the sheared strawberries worth it.

    • John Pseudonymous

      Thanks so much, man. It’s incredible to see them advancing so quickly. They’re literally picking up new skills every day. I feel very fortunate to be home so often to witness them. (Yes, sheared strawberries pale in comparison.)

  6. Ms. Jolly Blogger

    God bless kitchen shears. I think I’ve already been through a couple pairs already because I use them all the time to cut up my sons’ food…

    That “muh” moment is awesome. Its little moments like those that make us parents realize how blessed our lives are because of our children. :)

  7. Brad the Dad

    Very good buddy, very good. I’m feeling happy right along with you for his milestone. Development is one of my favorite things about watching them grow up. My little guy is just starting to string two/three words together (albeit with some pause in between) and I’m having the same reaction. This morning was – Mahmee. Aahdun. Down? (I’m all done Mommy, get me down from this booster seat.)

    Props on the Jurassic Park tie in.

    • John Pseudonymous

      Wow, that’s so cool. The thought of having actual conversations with my kids gives me the chills. I got a taste of that myself, when, believe it or not, mere hours after he asked Mommy for “muh” kisses, he said his first two-word phrase (which may or may not become another post depending on how the Muses move me). So it was a pretty big day for him.

      The Jurassic Park thing is something I’ve thought about from the start of this whole parenting thing. That scene’s always stuck in my head (and I’m sure many other people’s) as literally seeing learning as it happens, and having to react quickly–a sort of “Holy crap. What now?” Glad to hear that resonated with you, too. Thanks so much.

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