Yesterday when we went to pick Nico up at daycare, the woman who works there in the afternoon made yet another comment about the food we bring for Nico. “I was just telling her,” the woman said, referring to the other woman who works in the afternoons. “It’d be interesting to eat at your house for dinner.”
Then she smiled in an enigmatic way.
That day we had sent Nico to day care with three containers of food. One with chopped beets, one with pureed broccoli and organic, free-range beef, and one with cooked carrots. The day before we sent Alaskan salmon mixed with cooked zucchini. Last night we made her some lentils, spinach and baked pear.
If we were still in Iowa City, I feel like few people would bat an eye at us preparing our baby’s food ourselves or our use of organic products, free-range meats, no high fructose corn syrup, etc. Actually, there, you’d hear smacktalk if you were feeding your baby food from a jar.
But here in Lubbock, we’re seen as one part ingenious, one part freak. The women who work at the daycare have marveled at how rarely Nico gets sick and attribute this to the food she eats. Several of them have also complimented me or Marta on how good looking this food is. The spinach is so much brighter than the spinach in a jar, they say. The carrots and sweat potatoes look so fresh and sweet they are almost tempted to eat them themselves.
But then there are the subtle critiques. When we went to a baby shower (at Red Lobster!) for one of the women who works at Nico’s daycare, some of other women there got to talking about Nico and how, overall, she’s really sweet. But then someone mentioned bowl movements and they all went off. “It’s like you go to change her and you think, yep, it’ll be a BM again,” one woman said, only slightly laughing. Though they never said so, I could tell they attributing Nico’s frequent pooping to her strange food as well.
Then another time, a couple months ago, I came into pick up Nico in the afternoon and the same one who said it would be “interesting” to eat dinner at our house, said to me in a hushed voice, “I kind of did something bad today….”
My mind went to the worst. She dropped Nico on her head. She left Nico unattended and something fell on her head. She forgot to feed Nico. Etc.
“I gave her some Cheerios for snack,” the woman said and then smiled brightly. It was clear she took satisfaction in sneaking an eight-month-old her first Cheerios.
I was obviously relieved and I told her it was OK. But then I added that I preferred if in the future she only fed Nico the “finger foods” (i.e., what people in babyland call any food babies pick up with their hands to help them develop hand-eye coordination) that we bring from home.
Her face fell. “OK, sure,” she said. I could tell she thought I was a heartless, joyless mom.
But then a few weeks ago, Marta and I caved. Well, actually, we just didn’t have time to make any of the common “finger foods” we normally make for Nico: strips of cooked carrot, strips of cooked sweat potato, cubes of, yes, tofu. So Marta said, “Why don’t we just let her eat Cheerios? It’s Friday.”
And it’s been like that ever since. On Fridays, Nico eats Cheerios for finger foods like a “normal” Lubbock daycare kid. But the rest of the time she is subject to our perverse menu of bright colored vegetables and well treated animal meat. Happily, she so far has yet to notice the difference. She eats everything we put before her. Except for yogurt. And small pieces of steamed cauliflower. But you puree that cauliflower and she’s game.