COFFEE IN THE PARK
Lyn and I are childhood friends. We grew up together. We were very close especially during our teenage years. By a twist of fate, we ended up living in the same town, living a few miles from each other. David and Marc are close to each other in age and good friends already.
We always meet at the ‘park in the hills’. It is a little bit further away from where we live but the setting is beautiful. It is small. It is completely enclosed by a fence. Old trees with dense green foliage surround it, which makes it cool and shady in the summer.
We are on our way. Lyn is very punctual. I am the one who is always late even if it is by a few minutes only.
And of course here she is, sitting on the bench, watching David who is quietly playing in the sand. I rush to her side and place Marc next to David.
“Hi! Sorry I am late.”
Lyn glances at her watch and say: “just five minutes. You know me I always come early.”
I smile and sit back. She is my best friend but she can be annoying at times.
We sit in silence, just enjoying the fresh air and letting the balmy air and the calming effect of the beautiful landscape wash over us.
Lyn reaches in her voluminous baby bag and extracts a large silver thermos and two small paper cups. She unscrews the top and pours the hot liquid in the cups. The heavenly smell of the espresso coffee surrounds us. This is our little indulgence; drinking an espresso while watching the kids play. As long as they are in the sand box, we can relax.
Lyn hands me the cup full of the fragrant coffee. I take a sniff and close my eyes: Heavenly!!
“So Sofie! How was your week?”
“Good! And you?”
“As usual. David is keeping me real busy.”
“Hmmm! I know. So is Marc.”
“Did you sign him up for any classes?”
“Yes! We are going to start Gymboree. How about you?”
“No! Not yet. I am still thinking about it.”
“Come! It will be fun.”
She nods without answering. We sit in silence. The balmy air, the rustling of the leaves and the happy voices of the children laughing make this park the ideal place for relaxation.
“Did you hear about what happened to Sue.” Says Lyn suddenly.
“No! I hope nothing serious.”
We spend the next ten minutes indulging in delicious gossip about all our acquaintances. Ten minutes might not seem a long time but it is amazing how much information we cram in them knowing that at any second we will be interrupted by Marc and David.
Marc stands up suddenly and runs to me. He points to the big diaper bag. I know what he wants: a snack. I get a juice box punch in the straw and hand it to him. He drinks greedily. I take out the small bag of cheerios. I try to feed him one cheerios at a time but he shakes his head and grabs the bag from my hand. With a sigh I reach for a wet towel to wipe his hands. It is a tug a war between us. He hates the feeling of the wet soapy towel. I, on the other hand, am not going to let him dip his dirty hands in the bag. Lyn watches our antics with a smile.
I smile back ruefully and say:
“He wants to eat by himself. Is David doing the same thing?”
“Yes! But I don’t let him. It is too messy.”
“You are so right! It is an absolute mess. His dinner ends up as much on the floor as in his mouth. And I always worry that he did not get enough and is still hungry.”
“Is he on solid food?”
“Yes! But I still mash them.”
“I find the ready made jars so practical.”
“I know, but I like to prepare everything fresh. I cook everyday. So it is not a problem for me to prepare him something new every day. He has cereal and fruit in the morning and in the evening and at noon, I prepare him a vegetable soup that I puree in the blender.”
“Do you give him the fruits whole.”
“No! I puree them as well.”
“David loves apple sauce.”
“That’s so lucky! Marc will only eat white peaches.”
“I wish I was.”
“Where can you find peaches in winter,”
“It’s a challenge but I can find some horribly expensive ones in specialty stores.”
“You are spoiling him.”
I probably am. I look at Marc. He is standing next to me happily munching handful of cheerios. He has a solid appetite and enjoys the food I give him. Lately, he wants to eat on his own and that is creating a problem for me. You would think I would worry about the mess. But that is not my main concern. He refuses to even open his mouth when I start feeding him. He always ends up taking the little spoon from me and dipping it in the bowl. How much of the food goes into his mouth is debatable. It just looks like 90% of it falls on the little table in front of his high chair or runs down his bib. I worry that he is not getting enough food and is still hungry.
I have read extensively about the changes in the toddlers eating habits. Contrary to expectation, he doesn’t want to play with his food or feel its texture. He just wants to be independent. I am trying to be creative. One of my tricks is to distract him with his favorite toy the moment I sit him in his high chair and feed him as fast as possible. It usually does not take him long to turn his attention to the bowl and the food in it. He then refuses to open his mouth and insists on eating by himself. If by then I was able to get into him half of the amount in his bowl, I would feel satisfied. The other one is to just let him loose and follow him around the house while shoving in his mouth one spoonful after another. The mess it created was just too much for me. He would suddenly stop, flop on the floor and snatch the spoon from my hand splattering the pureed food everywhere.
David stands up and approaches us. I watch Lyn take a small bag containing cut apples. She holds one slice at a time and dutifully David munches at them. Marc stops for a split second then moves nearer to Lyn eyeing the apple. She offers him a piece. He wants to grab it but she pulls her hand back, wait for a second then offer the apple again. Marc eyes her thoughtfully, extend his hand and stops mid way when she pulls her hand back again. He ponders for a moment then turns towards me and pulls me by the hand and points towards the slide.
Our coffee break is over. He wants to play. I stand up and walk with him to the play area with its swings, climbing stairs and wooden bridge. We spend the next half hour running, climbing, sliding and laughing.
Tired, we return to our bench where Lyn is getting ready to go. Our morning at the park is at an end. Soon we will be heading to our cars and back home.