Monday, February 22, 2010

Extreme Oatmeal

            I made oatmeal Saturday morning. Celia has been showing a profound interest in hot cereals of late, and when I stood looking at my breakfast options, I had a sense that it was oatmeal’s turn.
            As I stood at the stove stirring the pot, Celia grew impatient. “Eeeeh!” she called at me, tugging on my leg.
            These are the moments where language isn’t exactly necessary. Anybody would know she’s just being plain-and-simple-sixteen-month-old-impatient.
            “Just a couple more minutes, Sweetie,” I said, patting her head. She rampaged through the kitchen until, finally, at long last, I called to her, “Okay. It’s ready.”
            She lifted her arms so I would pick her up and put her in her high chair. I attached her bib and put the bowl in front of her with a little green spoon. I turned back to the stove to get my bowl and cut up some more bananas for myself. When I got back she’d started feeding herself.
            Interesting, I thought. Let’s see how this goes. Why not? She’s got to learn to feed herself sometime. Why not now?
            Halfway through the meal, everything about my daughter was a mess. Her gorgeous long locks of brown hair were coated with oatmeal sludge. Her hands were completely drenched in the stuff. And her face was a Picasso painting.
            “Bravo,” I told her.
            Just when I figured I’d seen it all, Celia stuck her finger right up her right nostril, pushing a big chunk of oatmeal at least one knuckle inside, if not two.
            My eyes bulged in shock and I laughed. “Are you sure you want to put that oatmeal up your nose?” I asked.
            Celia grinned at me. She wasn’t even picking her nose, she was just keeping her finger there. Maybe it was because of my reaction. Or maybe she just liked the feel of it; something new to play with.
            “Let’s eat some more,” I said. I put some on a spoon and held it out to her. She obediently ate the bite and took her finger out. “Is anything in your nose?” I asked. She looked at me inquisitively. “Blow your nose,” I said.
            She blew a little bit, but nothing came out. I just shook my head. They didn’t tell me in the user manual that my daughter would do such things.
            My daughter watched me calmly. I noticed a single flake floating in and out of her right nostril as she breathed. I grinned and wished I had a video camera. This daughter of mine certainly does make me smile! I suppose these will just have to be the moments I remember in my heart. The silly, unexpected messiness that raising a child conjures.

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