My son has discovered the joy of blowing bubbles. Not the sudsy kind that can be purchased at the store that are equipped with plastic wands. His bubbles are homemade, mouth-crafted from his own bodily fluids, including saliva and spit-up, as well as fluids intended to become bodily, such as breast milk, formula, and baby food. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing–eating, playing, fighting crime–he’s always perfecting his new hobby.
He employs two methods in bubble creation. His first, preferred technique is by sustaining the “TH” sound, partially sticking his tongue out just underneath his forthcoming top row of teeth, allowing bubbles to emanate from either side of his mouth. The second strategy involves vocalizing the “hard C” or “K” sound and holding it, creating a sort of artificial static white noise usually incorporated in the use of imaginary walkie talkies.
Whichever method he employs, he is growing in both enthusiasm and proficiency daily, making him a veritable sprinkler. Most of the time this is incredibly adorable, as he sports a proud, accomplished grin at demonstrating such bodily control. However, this new talent can be cumbersome when attempting to feed him.
He’s hard enough to feed as it is. At 6 months old, he is highly distractible while eating. Books I do not have time to read suggest that many babies at this age have newly-acquired 20/20 vision and are thus becoming increasingly aware of their surroundings, which can be infinitely more exciting than eating, their first love. This newfound awareness does not seem to faze our daughter, though. Despite these biological developments she is a focused eater, eyes on the prize the whole time. She’ll chug an entire bottle without once coming up for air and is always ready for each new bite of baby food, oatmeal, rice cereal, or whatever else we’ve prepared.
In stark contrast, I’d estimate my son’s feedings to average 1 1/2 times to twice the length of his sister’s.
At mealtime, his attention is everywhere except the intended ingestion–the pictures on the wall, the pattern on Daddy’s shirt, the swirly shape of our pole lamp’s energy-conserving bulb, the toy I’ve given his sister to occupy her since she finished eating 20 minutes ago, etc. While drinking a bottle, teething has even prompted him to nipple-gnaw instead of drinking through it.
And then, of course, there’s the Spoon Games. One of his favorites involves putting his head down so his chin is virtually attached to his chest, making for a less-than-ideal spoon delivery. Another is when the spoon comes his way, in the time-honored tradition of pretending it is an airplane, he denies the plane in what we have dubbed the King-Kong-F*ck-You Swipe, rendering the plane useless as its engine fuel splatters the floor. Luckily, our dog waits patiently for this occurrence and is an excellent cleanup crew.
I’m sure you can imagine what bubble blowing had contributed to this repertoire, particularly as food is often sent back to the chef in an aerodynamic manner. I have removed puree’d peas from my eyes on several occasions.
Regrettably, in frustration, I recently I caught myself uttering a phrase I hoped never to utter to my kids, particularly because they’re twins and will always compete for our approval: “Why can’t you be more like your sister? Look how fast she eats, Buddy!”
Totally my bad, but trust me, 20 minutes of desperately trying to get him to eat even half of his food seems way longer than it actually is.
At the same time, the battlefield that is feeding my son recently provided the setting for what may be my favorite father-son moment to date.
The meal was carrots and green beans. Having seen the stains the carrots leave on some of our baby spoons, I looked down in horror at my off-white $40 Paul McCartney Tour t-shirt. He smirked at me from his high chair, as if petting a supervillain cat in his lap.
“Be right back, Buddy.”
Once I slipped into something more ruin-able, a bell sounded, signaling the beginning of Round 1. Luckily, King Kong was tame today, and he actually started out cooperatively. After a few successful spoonfuls, however, as the plane approached the hangar, I saw him winding up. His tongue partially protruded, the “TH” blowing technique was imminent, and would be unleashed the moment food hit baby mouth. I found myself in a game of “chicken” with my 6-month-old.
Then, a half-inch from impact, I pulled the spoon back, saying, “Oh, no you don’t. I know exactly what you’re doing.”
Shocked, he stared wide-eyed for a split second, and then just started dying laughing. But there was something special about this gigglefest, and it’s a moment I will remember for the rest of my life because it was my first real intellectual interaction with my son. I could tell he knew that I knew he was about to blow green beans and carrots all over me, and he recognized that Daddy was on to him–that I was a formidable opponent.
It blew me away. We had connected and communicated on a higher level than greetings, tickling, or wanting to be held. This was an intellectual, joking moment between the two of us. My son was being a smartass, just like his Dad.
Arriving at this realization, paired, of course, with the contagiousness of baby laughter itself, I had no choice but to join him. We giggled at each other as chunks of carrots ran down his chin and he gleefully slapped his high chair tray.
Once the laughing fit was over and he acknowledged me as the Undisputed Champion of Bubble-Blowing Prevention, the remainder of the meal went off without a hitch.
This, along with the recent arrival of tiny teeth, admittedly makes me a little sad, as the initial “baby” months are really starting to fade away. At the same time, though, I’m elated to see my son becoming the sharp little man he seems to be turning into. I have a feeling he and I will riff with each other for years to come, much to the annoyance of the females in our household.
I can’t wait.
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If not, please don’t spit food in my face. I get enough of that already.
Wife: Our son just flung vomit into my mouth.
Me: Yay, another milestone! Where’s his baby book?
I was not present at the Time of Flinging, for I was slaying daughter diaper poo in another room, but legend has it that the tragic trajectory events occurred as follows.
Our son is a loose cannon in the spit-up department. Since his first day outside of his mother, he’s had a flair for reflux. We’ve been told this is more common with boys than girls and that it typically disappears after 12 months. In the meantime, however, my son often needs as many wardrobe changes as you would expect from Lady Gaga live in terrible concert. Bibs are no match for his vomit comets. Sure, they work okay, but ponchos would work better.
As his parents, my wife and I are constantly in the line of fire, enjoying refreshing vomit rinses multiple times daily. I can’t remember a day since I began house-husbanding that I did not need to change my shirt due to battle damage. Now, keep in mind, it’s high summer in the arid, scorching Arizona desert. Wussy, coin-sized spots dry right up and do not necessitate a wardrobe change. In contrast, here is an accurate depiction of the quality of work you can expect from him, as modeled by my lovely Who t-shirt.
After the day’s last feeding, we always feel we’re walking on eggshells that have already been slightly cracked by someone at the grocery store and that actually burst apart when pulled from the carton in an attempt to assemble them into a walkway, leaving us with egg on our faces and everywhere else. But the egg is vomit.
This is because once he’s had his last bottle, he could blow at any moment, but we need to get him ready for bed and put on his pajamas. So we do, so that he can hose them down, prompting Pajama Change 2: Return of the Reflux. And then he drenches those. and we initiate Pajama Change 3-D: This Time It’s Personal. And so on.
Not only is this process simply annoying, the re-changes often re-invigorate him when he’s just about to drift off, keeping him up later than he should be, depriving himself of much-needed slumber, and most importantly, infiltrating Mommy and Daddy’s only few hours to ourselves. How can I pretend to be interested in my wife’s So You Think You Can Dance commentary while flinging Angry Birds if he doesn’t go to sleep?
So when Old Faithful is about to be faithful, we are perfectly okay with doing anything we can do to keep his pajamas dry, even to the point of taking the bullet ourselves. One method we like to use is the Use My Hand as a Barf Bag Method (UMHAABBM), in which the user cups a hand and, well, you get it.
All right, now that you’ve been briefed, here is how the Great Vomit Fling of 2011 came to pass.
Into my wife’s mouth.
Eyewitnesses claim it began with the groan we have come to identify as “Fire in the hole.” My wife, who was sitting with him on the couch, valiantly administered the UMHAABBM with great success, inheriting a wrist-adjacent pool of formula, breast milk, rice cereal and prune baby food, spilling only a few drops and leaving my son’s PJs unscathed.
As she deftly balanced herself so as to not spill this treasure, my son noticed his hand, and remembering it to be an excellent appendage on which to suck, brought it to his mouth, still dripping upchuck.
He then glimpsed Mommy’s Bangs, another tried-and-true snack with the additional appeal of The Squeaky Sound Mommy Makes When I Pull and Don’t Let Go. His hand shot right for it.
Now, I may get in trouble with our Clan for divulging this, but my wife and I are ninjas. So in a move akin to Neo’s Bullet-Time dodge in the only good Matrix film, she successfully eluded his swipe, but–after a long day at work–did not account for the globule of vomit launched in the strike.
In its wake, not a day goes by since last night when it happened, that I don’t hear people ask, “Where were you when the vomit fell?”
They respond with awe and wonder when I casually remark, “In the next room, changing a diaper. No big deal.”
But it was a big deal.
At least to my wife.
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
My wife has observed that Twincidents have tended to feature humor at her expense–sticking her face in my son’s feces for example. She explicitly stated that she does not mind because such experiences happen to all parents. However, she did suggest writing about my own unfortunate twin run-ins, to which I responded, “But I can’t think of one. Can you?”
“Actually, no, not really.”
“Wait, what about the time you…?”
…but that’s another story.
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If not, at least try to get it in my cupped hand.