Articles - Humor
"Oh, don't worry about that!" I said with an air of authority and experience to my friend, as I casually plopped down into my favorite chair. "First off, you can't really mean your child hasn't eaten at all for four days, that's a little exaggerated." I waved her off with a chuckle. "Ha. He is probably about to go through a growth spurt, which children do, usually around every six months. His body just doesn't need the food right now,â€ť I continued, sounding like Dr. Spock himself. Throwing my head back in confidence I continued relentlessly, "Just calm down, you'll see, he'll start eating soon, just don't push food on him."
My friend got up and left, feeling embarrassed at showing so much anxiety over such an easily remedied situation. As I closed the door I had to laugh at my newfound confidence, seeing that not two years had passed since I was in the same situation and was not exactly the personification of calm, cool and collected.
"Doctor, doctor," I had yelled as I threw my 1 1/2 year old into his arms. "She hasn't eaten a thing in four days, I mean nothing!"
"Check her all over and tell me whatâ€™s wrong," I sobbed as the contents of my purse scattered all over the floor while searching for a clean tissue to wipe my eyes. "I've tried everything, every kind of food I could think of. I even made her four breakfast choices this morning and she just sat there in her high chair staring at me. Except for her gourmet pear juice bottles she's eating NOTHING!" I shrieked as I slumped into the chair with my last ounce of strength.
"Uh-huh," said my doctor after checking her over thoroughly. "First off, Juice bottles are not nothing, she looks just fine. Children go through growth spurts, and they sometimes seem to lose their appetite. Go home and relax, she'll eat before you know it, just don't push food on her."
I thanked the doctor, smiled, retrieved the contents of my purse, and strode out of the office calmly. I was resolved to truly stay calm. That was until I saw a pay phone. I quickly called my best friend, and told her the horror of my child not eating a thing. She suggested I call my child's babysitter Ettie to see if she had eaten anything with her lately. I told her that was good thinking and called my faithful babysitter. Ettie told me my daughter had not eaten much with her, either, but she usually enjoyed the crackers in the red box. I hung up the phone, jumped with joy, and ran to buy not one, but two boxes of these crackers, the ones in the "red box." When we got home I opened the box and handed the cracker to my daughter. She took a small bite, handed it back to me, and walked away. I ran to her and said, "Here are those delicious crackers your babysitter always gives you, isn't that exciting?" "No," she said. "What do you mean NO!" I pleaded, "Does that mean you don't want the cracker?" She looked at me and shook her head, saying, "No." My heart fell to the ground; I was shocked. I had put too much hope into the little cracker. I had to approach this crisis another way. I decided to research with other mothers. It's not that I didnâ€™t trust my doctor, but he's not a mother, and mothers usually know secrets that even doctors don't know.
The first mom I called said her son wouldn't touch, even hated meat, but she had fooled him into believing that meat was really cookies. She had bought ground beef and had made them into little, tiny patties and told her son they were cookies. I told her I doubted that my child would mistake meat for cookies, but I'd try it. The outcome was as expected. The next mother told me to make sandwiches and cut them into different shapes, like a circle or a flower. This I tried too. Sandwich after sandwich I cut. I attempted boys, girls, tables, cars, birds, swing-sets, and skyscrapers. I never knew my artistic ability. With each sculpture I felt more accomplished. I had sandwiches in every room, all over the house. I experimented with peanut butter and jelly, tuna, cheese, on white bread, whole wheat bread, and pumpernickel. I learned about the different textures: which stuck together and which did not, which ones aged better, and what was totally impossible to work with. I even ran out to the hat shop to buy a beret. (All the professional artists I had ever seen wore berets!)
No eating took place, but as my last two sculptures lay in front of my daughter, she asked a very profound question: "What is the tree doing in the water with the boat?"
Another mother said to buy a plate with dividers, another said use only a bowl, and yet another said she blended and pureed everything into a cup. So I ran to my kitchen and put everything I could think of into the blender (separately, of course): fish, meat loaf, scrambled eggs, yogurt, and brown rice, and I pureed each one into a cup. My daughter looked into each cup and said, "Oh! This one is pink, this one is brown â€¦" She thought this was a fun lesson in colors, and I was approaching desperation. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and begged, "EATâ€¦"
Mom number 6 said, "You're not mixing your Yin and your Yang properly," the next said her child only ate foods that were yellow, like bananas, eggs and cheese, and one said her child ate anything and everything as long as it had soy sauce on it. So I soy sauced my daughter's morning cereal. Alas â€¦ nothing worked.
For the next three nights I went to bed exhausted, first because I had a kink in my neck from talking on the phone so much, and secondly, because I was failing at feeding my daughter.
Then it happened. I was walking in the door with various new and exotic items under my arm to try on my daughter when I almost fainted. There were my daughter and husband sitting at the table eating sandwiches and salad! I threw my arms around my daughter and kissed her. "What did you do?" I almost shouted at my husband. "Did you cut the sandwiches into squares or triangles, or hexagons—or did you promise her a huge, catered Bas-Mitzvah that you know we cannot afford? Please! Tell me!"
"Nothing," my husband said quietly. "All I did was make myself lunch and she climbed on my lap asking for a bite, and one bite led to another." I jumped with joy and thanked G-d for performing an open miracle before my eyes. I collected myself and said coolly, "I guess the doctor was right. She must just need the food again. I wasn't really worried," I assured my husband. "The next time our daughter doesn't eat for a couple of days, I'll just wait it out â€¦ it will pass. And I will stay calm if our next child goes through a spurt of not eating."
I did stay calm, which is until I flew into my doctor's office with our next child, crying, "My son has not eaten anything for 4 days! Please, check him inside and out."
While walking home with my son I frantically turned to him, "Isn't there anything you'd like to eat?" I rattled off the 200 food items that popped into my head, and at the end of my list he said he'd like a fish with an eye. "What!" I screamed "A fish with an eye? Where did you ever see something like that?" (not being a fish lover myself). He matter-of-factly answered, "I ate it once with daddy." "Oh, yes!" I said with delight at the thought of my son eating. We ran to buy him a fish with an eye, and I fed it to him when we got home. As he took three whole bites I sat there smiling as my heart beat faster with excitement. I lost no time in calling the fish store to order a case of those special, smoked chubbs.
The next morning, as I opened my refrigerator I jumped back in fright at the hundreds of eyes staring at me. I picked out the prettiest fish and prepared a plate for my son's breakfast. He looked at the fish and said "No." "No?" I repeated, as tears welled up in my eyes. "Well, maybe you would like some yellow food, or sandwiches cut into squares, or how about if I put soy sauce over your cereal, or â€¦"
Did I ever tell you about my black muu-muu*? Well, when I was last pregnant, I received the most wonderful black muu-muu. The moment I first saw it I said, "You and I are going to go through labor together." I wore this muu-muu constantly during the pregnancy, and toward my due date I must admit it was very nerve-wracking washing it! Every time I'd throw the muu-muu into that twisting, sudsy water I'd yell into the washing machine, "Hurry up! Hurry up! — I could go into labor any second and you know our agreement!" Then I'd watch the muu-muu hanging in the bathroom drying for what seemed like an eternity. (I didn't dare throw my 100% cotton muu-muu into the dryer.) Sometimes I'd take a blow dryer to expedite the process. The second it was dry I'd sigh with relief and quickly put it on, ready for anything.
So, as it happened, late one Thursday evening, I was busy putting the kids to sleep, and I remembered I had forgotten to wash my friend. I quickly threw the muu-muu into the washer, hung it up to dry and ... Yes, you can guess what happened ... it's true! Minutes later, I lay on my bed asking the contractions if they could possibly wait until I blew-dry my dress, but that didn't work, so I was off to the hospital in my least favorite green muu-muu.
Speaking of muu-muus, when I visited the doctor just before the green muu-muu'ed labor, he finished up the exam and said, "Now go home and get a good night's sleep, youâ€™ll need the strength." I immediately looked behind me to see who he could possibly be talking to, and since the room was still empty, I looked back at him and said, "You're kidding, right? Do other women really sleep in their ninth month?" I told him I'd have to ask my mother; maybe this was just a family custom but I found sleep extremely hard, if not impossible, in my ninth month. He chuckled and said, "Just try to find a comfortable position, and you'll fall asleep."
That night when my husband came home he found me standing in the middle of the bedroom with my head gently resting on my shoulder. He walked around me and went to bed as usual. After tossing and turning for 10 minutes, he got up, came over to me, and softly said. "What are you doing?" I opened my eyes and in my sincerest voice said, "Why, dear, I'm trying to get a good night's sleep as the doctor ordered." My husband, with his endless patience, quietly queried, "Standing up? I think most people sleep lying down." I looked at him and said, "I understand that, dear, but I canâ€™t sleep lying on my back because I canâ€™t breathe. I'd like to sleep on my left side, but your yet-to-be-born child insists on lying on the right side and kicks me if I try to switch. I tried sleeping sitting up but it hurts my ribs, so the only solution is standing up. Now go to bed please. I was just in the middle of a great dream ..."
It's not only my husband who has to put up with my antics. Seven weeks before the actual green muu-muu'ed labor began; I started to prepare my friend who was going to stay with my other kids. I'd call her on the phone and ask her to please come over right away. I informed her that labor could come any time now. I'd go through all the medicines each child takes, who liked which color socks, where the emergency telephone numbers were, what exactly each one ate at each meal, and then ask her to repeat every detail back to me. She came over graciously the first five times, but she began to get impatient with each subsequent drill. Every time I called her I'd say, "This could happen any day you know. Are you sure you can handle this? Do you feel confident? Would you like me to go over it again?" She'd just remain quiet, then gently hang up the phone. Iâ€™m sure she was doing her best not to say something she would regret.
As it got later and later, and still no labor, it became rather embarrassing to leave my house. People pointed and laughed at me as I waddled down the street. Young children would pull at their mothers' skirts saying, "Would you get me a beach ball like that woman has, please?" Others would shake their heads and say, "Is she still around?" It's not that I really got that big, it's just that my stomach would enter the room and about 10 minutes later the rest of me did.
Well, I finally got around to delivery. As I was driving to my postpartum check, there next to me in the car eat smiled the most beautiful baby boy Iâ€™d ever seen. (He was smiling at me for so long I got self-conscious and checked in the mirror to make sure there was nothing funny on my face.) It's so wonderful to be appreciated for the small things in life. Like when I change my new baby he looks at me so intently and really says thank you with his eyes (unlike my two-year-old who I have to chase around the house, playing the quarterback and tackling him in order for him to let me change him). And the baby stops crying when I pick him up gently and rock him in my arms. He enjoys simply lying there next to me on the bed (unlike my four-year-old who only enjoys being with me when I'm taking her out for ice cream, buying her a new hair bow or taking her to her best friend's). The baby coos and gurgles at me, and when we look into each other's eyes, we're in our own little world, just the two of us. It's the closest thing to paradise that I've ever experienced. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my other children passionately, but it's just different with a baby.
As I sit on the floor ready to begin my good-bye ceremony to my tent dresses, I'm filled with both longing and relief. My big brown box stands empty, clothes folded around it in different piles: "must keep", "repair", and "outgrown this time forever". As I pick the black muu-muu up and gently lay it on top, I whisper, "The green muu-muu worked okay this time, but you owe me one."Top