Kids really only need a quarter of the food you give them, and this goes double for babies. Our family dinner ritual is to set the table, say our grace, eat and then let the dog finish off whatever food has dropped to the floor during the course of the meal. Incidentally, our dog eats better than I do most nights.
Take the two-year-old, for instance. The other day I caught him pulling rice from his mouth and purposefully dropping it to the floor (a bad habit he’s picked up).
“Kojak,” (my son’s name is not really Kojak but, for this blog, I thought it’d be cool) I say in my stern, daddy voice, “are we supposed to drop food on the floor like that?”
“But…it’s yucky…it was in my mouth!” he declares (and declares is just the right word for it, for he says it like a proclamation to the heavens) in his two-year-old garble. I can only assume there was a hair or something on the food which rendered it yucky.
Still, there’s irony here, because even when he tries his very best to get the food all in his mouth, inevitably a third of it is going to land on the floor. Part of this has to do with the fact that he insists on sitting an arm’s-length distance from the table and never in a position where he’s actually facing his food. Another part of this has to do with coordination, perhaps, but I digress.
The baby’s food-to-mouth coordination is much worse. It’s like watching Cookie Monster appease his sugar/crack addition by throwing cookies at his open-mouthed face…which I’ve never understood. If you love cookies so much, why not make sure to appreciate every bite? His method has always been more of the let’s-hope-something-lands-in-there approach, which is absurd since his mouth makes up about forty percent of his face.
That’s Seth in a nutshell, though. When he takes a bite of whatever is in his hand, half the food goes flying even though his entire hand goes in his mouth with the food he’s holding. I’m starting to understand that this hand-in-the-mouth thing isn’t just him; many babies do this. It makes me realize how wise God is to wait a while before giving them teeth.
When Seth finishes his dinner, he gives us a subtle scream to let us know he’s finished. We undo his high chair to find that the parts of him that were concealed by the detachable table portion of the high chair are now lined with more food than what was available for dinner. Of course, there’s a huge smile on his face, as he knows exactly what kind of cleanup is in store for us (I’ve become more and more convinced that this smile is a baby’s equivalent to a middle finger). Heck, I know I’ll find even more food lining the fat patches of his nether regions when I change his diaper later (always in awe of how he manages that with a onesie on).
All of this begs the question, how much would parents save if they only had to give their kids the amount of food they were actually going to eat…plus or minus, say 5%? I have no answer for this, but it seems like a million dollar idea. If they could develop a program, perhaps a baby/toddler diner, where homeless people could claim the scraps after the kiddies were finished eating, we might just well cure hunger in this great nation.