I think it’s hilarious how toddlers think they control their dominion. Or think that they should. I mean, talk about DRAMA when Thing Two can’t quite get the tip of the bottle inserted into Baby’s mouth — we’re talking epic. Or when she’s having trouble finding the precise corner of her deteriorating blanket to suck on, or struggling to turn a page of Elmo Loves You.
Or using a spoon.
Apparently I’ve “introduced” the spoon a little late. I was reading that around 12 months is about the time you start looking for “signs” that you should “introduce” it, like my baby is a quarter horse or a fallow field or someone not capable of demanding to be given a spoon. Which she is, and does. Seemingly overnight, she now becomes enraged if we do not give her a utensil.
And if I HELP her use it? Well, you can forget the spaghetti.
I want to say, “Lookit. This is new for you. You have never done this before. I know you watch your brother eat with forks, spoons and various Lego-comprised appendages, but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert. I mean, how can I take anyone seriously who is, by slow degrees, consuming her blanket like a billy goat?”
But Maddie just plows right in, flinging yogurt over her head and down 1-30 into Arlington, manners and cleanliness be darned.
Yesterday I discovered that the only way she will accept help is by allowing me to steer her arm by the elbow. As long as I make no contact with the spoon or her hand or the bowl of food. As long as I let go in time for her to blaze her own path to her mouth, a path that usually meanders down into her lap. Or mine.
It’s funny how I can’t remember Drew’s journey to spoon-ing. So many of those milestones fade into the busy mosaic of lightning-speed parenthood, mostly because by the time they’ve happened, they don’t feel like milestones at all; more like mile markers in a rear view mirror. Wow: I guess he’s already using sentences. When did that happen? Wow: I guess she’s already singing songs. When did that happen? Besides rolling over, crawling, and walking, most “milestones” slip by between loads of laundry and trips to Target.
I don’t think I’m as obstinate and controlling as Madeline in my life, but after the 89th meal of flung potatoes, it becomes hard to believe it isn’t hardwired into her genes — half of which I contributed.
It makes me wonder: in what area is God steering ME by the elbow?