Harper in action.


Thursday, October 19, 2006


There are so many things we take for granted as adults that I see Harper struggling
with. For instance, I can easily roll from my back to my front and vice versa. I can sit up by myself and even look around without losing my balance and falling flat on my face. I can stand without assistance, I can walk, and when I'm tired I can put myself to bed and go to sleep without crying. But watching Harper, perhaps what impresses me most about me is that I can feed myself.

We have recently started Harper on solids. First, it was rice cereal, then we introduced peas, sweet potatoes, squash and carrots. Now we're giving her oatmeal, bananas, and apples. But you shouldn't imagine these delicacies as actually solid in any way. Harper still doesn't even have any teeth (another way in which I'm supremely superior to her). Everything is this kind of mushy, almost-liquid. It's basically the consistency of mashed potatoes. The bottom line: it's baby food. But she seems to love it (or most of it anyway).

The problem is she wants to try to feed herself. I know that in her still developing brain (mine is rather nicely developed, thank you very much) she thinks that she can do it. However, put to the test, she fails miserably. To start, she doesn't have enough motor control of her extremities to scoop anything and lift it to her mouth. Hell, it wasn't all that long ago that she was knocking herself in the forehead with her rattle. Big deal, right? She was aiming for her mouth. There's something hilariously pathetic about watching a baby concentrate so hard to do something so simple. She would watch the rattle as it neared her mouth bringing it steadily closer. And then for some reason at the last second, BONK! Forehead.

In addition, she doesn't have the sense to maintain a grip on anything long enough to feed herself. From the moment she picks something up it's a countdown until she drops it. And there are times when it seems like her hands are actually fighting each other over which gets to hold whatever item she's trying to manipulate. The left will snap at a teether and pry it free from the right. The right will greedily grab it back and attempt to grasp it tightly while the left redoubles its efforts culminating in a furious battle of...drop. 30 seconds! Way to go, Harper. A new record! Oh, and FYI - I can hold an object as long as necessary.

There have been times when I've tested her to see if she might actually be able to feed herself yet. Not with the solids, because there's no way I'm cleaning up that mess. She'd get about one pea in her mouth and the rest would be in every other conceivable place within a six foot radius. No, what I'll do is set her bottle on the tray of her high chair, sit back, and observe. You see, on some level Harper is my own private anthropology experiment. I love to just watch her quietly as she tries to do simple things (usually failing miserably) that I can do with little or no effort at all.

So with the bottle set, I watch. The other night she grabbed it and actually got the nipple into her mouth. The problem was she had the bottle pointed straight up. Then she dropped it. After I placed it back on her tray she was able to gather it up again, but this time she had the bottom of the bottle and tried to put it in her mouth. I thought to myself, "That bottle might was well be on Jupiter, for all the milk you're going to get out of it." Then I took it from her and promptly finished it off. Hey, I'm not about to let good boob milk go to waste.

The biggest pain when it comes to the transition to solids is simply the mess involved. Every night, when Harper is done eating she needs a full bath. Every night! That's probably only happened to me like four or five times in my whole adult life. But after dinner Harper's face looks like some crazy piece of abstract art. Or like a palsied clown putting on makeup with his off hand. Or Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Except instead of Scottish War Paint Blue, it's Gerber's Gooey Carrots Orange.

During mealtime, I usually hold Harper's arms down while McCall feeds her. Yes, I have to physically hold her arms down or she'll try to grab the spoon, the cup, the plate or whatever. McCall told me she wished we had a baby seat with electric chair-style restraints to hold her arms down and her head back. That got me thinking. Maybe they have a mini electric chair. I mean, how else do you execute midgets? We could get one and just remove all the stuff that makes you die. The more I think about it, the better that idea sounds. I think I'll go check Craig's List for "miniature electric chairs." They got to have it, I mean, they have everything else.