Simon’s mouth is awake, thanks.

by J on June 2, 2010

This boy. He’s been a little late with the milestones sometimes, but when he decides to go for something, there’s no holding back. We’re not sure if it’s been the cleft palate, the small jaw, or the low muscle tone (and associated low body-awareness), but the little man really wasn’t all that enthusiastic about eating solid food for, say, the first thirteen months and two weeks of his life. He rejected the “baby-safe feeder” nylon mesh bag. He rejected baby-mush from a spoon. He rejected delicious morsels on his high-chair tray. For a while, he would only eat Cheerios (and extra bonus if I planned ahead to dip them in something nutritive). At some point, we knew he could feed himself (because we’d occasionally see it happen), but he wouldn’t eat unless we put individual food pieces in his mouth.

And then, one day last week, there he was, in his high chair, shoveling his own food into his own mouth. His favorites are still cheese and carbs (a cheese pancake might conceivably be his favorite, but I haven’t quite worked out the recipe for that yet). But he will also eat fruit on purpose if that’s what’s on his tray. Especially strawberry. Especially Oregon strawberry.

Now, maybe to most families the transition from the bottle to solids isn’t very groundbreaking. But to us, it’s like the most fascinating, earth-shattering thing in the whole world. I can put food on his tray and watch him eat it, without feeding it to him one piece at a time. Really, this is revolutionizing our lives. I know I say that about a lot of things. But now I can eat my own food, while sitting near Simon, who is also eating, and have a conversation. It’s like a date, every time we have a meal. (Mainly, his conversation is still limited to¬† “mamamamamama! mamamoooooo! Ayayayaaaaaaa.”)

So while we were celebrating (and hoping that it wasn’t just a transitory preference) the new eating regime, a new toothbrushing regime started at our house.

We’ve been trying to be really diligent about brushing Simon’s teeth (he’s teething, like, all the time, and has lots of teeth, and they’re super-adorable, and also sharp), since his “toddler” formula is composed mainly of water, sugar, oh, and some nutrients. Now, let the reader understand, Simon is what professional people call “orally defensive.” I couldn’t even get my finger in his mouth let alone a foreign object (c.f. food). So toothbrushing time was mainly a family togetherness experience where one parent would immobilize the hands, while the other one, while holding the toothbrush, would squeeze Simon’s cheeks together enough to expose teeth, and begin brushing. At some point, this would infuriate him enough that he would open up to scream, handily exposing the molars, which would then also get brushed. At some point, he got wise, and started screaming with his mouth clamped shut. Still, we would prevail, but the whole process took longer. It always seemed a little incongruous to follow toothbrushing with our family prayer, blessing, and hymn. But then, really, do you do the prayer, blessing, and hymn, and then follow it with toothbrushing? There was no real solution.

And then. One day (at the same time Simon started feeding himself), he just started letting us brush his teeth. He opens up voluntarily. He barely fusses. He also likes holding the toothbrush and playing with the bristles, or chewing on it. He throws a little short-lived tantrum if we have to take the toothbrush away. It’s been a toothbrush-attitude-180-plus-also-love-affair at our house this week.

At this point, we felt like we were pressing our luck with one breakthrough leading to another. (And narratively, telling the reader how very advanced your child is, maybe can wear thin? But I figure we’re justified because he’s behind in his skills. I’ll be brief.)

So bathtime: He used to love it, then he started screaming the entire time, for no apparent reason. And then tonight we let him hold the toothbrush during the bath. Problem solved. Happy bath, happy baby, disgusting bath-toothbrush. But I bought a pack of four, so we now have a bath-toothbrush and a real toothbrush.

In other news, I’m back from the Science Olympiad trip. Simon and Todd did great on their own, and I may just have to go on another solo trip, to say, Veracruz (kidding, Todd). And my team got a fifth-place medal (out of sixty teams) in Experimental Design (one of the twenty-three events).

Oh, and Simon got a haircut and looks like a Big Boy now. At some point, we’ll post pictures or see you in person.

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