She’s little but she can eat

By Bill Colvard -

My daughter and her family live in Winston-Salem which is just far enough away that I have an excuse for the children to spend the weekend with me.

“Weekend at Papa’s” has become a treat for us all. And after this past weekend, the definition of “all” has been expanded to include Lulu, who was included for the first time. After all, she is eight months old now and it’s high time for me to get over my squeamishness at caring for very young children.

It has been 27 years since I was wholly responsible for the care and feeding of such a tiny diva. When Joie was a baby, her mom worked and I could care for her with some competence for 10 hours at a time without breaking a sweat. We even traveled on our own and I could manage a few days at a time. But that was then (and I was young) and this is now (and I am not). That is to say, I am now much more aware of how many things can go wrong.

Firstly, I had forgotten just how much a baby can eat. My grandson Micah is 3 and has the diet of a Tyrannosaurus rex who frequents convenience stores. He is a carnivore with a preference for smoked meats and looks askance at any sort of vegetation.

Fry him a half-pound of bacon for breakfast and throw him some pepperoni periodically throughout the day and he is perfectly happy. He will even eat a pizza if it has pepperoni on it, but there’s no use to try and fake him out by sneaking tiny pieces of broccoli or Brussels sprouts on that pizza. He will pick them off. Might lick any attached cheese off of the veggies but he will not eat them.

Maybe it’s all that protein and fat but he never seems hungry even though he doesn’t eat that much.

But that baby. Oh, my word. By the time I got home Friday night, she was so tired I couldn’t get her to eat or drink much of anything before bed. Little did I know the problem that was going to cause. By Saturday morning, she awoke hungry.

I made her some oatmeal. I had seen oatmeal in the baby food aisle but I saw no reason to pay $1.09 for two ounces of oatmeal when I had a six-gallon bucket of it at home. (I very briefly belonged to an organic grain co-operative. Don’t ask.)

During the five minutes it took for the organic rolled oats to become oatmeal, I learned why one would spend $1.09 for pre-made oatmeal. It was a very long, loud five minutes. Very loud.

It’s really surprising that with all that howling and snotting going on, I managed to vaguely remember something about babies and honey. Honey is my preferred sweetener as I believe, rightly or wrongly, that it is better for you than white sugar.

So while attempting to regain some peace and quiet by offering a bottle — without much luck — I Googled the honey thing while stirring the oatmeal, hoping it didn’t stick and force me to start the whole mess over from the beginning.

Yep, turned out honey is dangerous to anyone under a year old. Baby botulism. Quelle horreur.

Fortunately, I had some brown sugar. But you see where this thing could have gone horribly wrong. Twenty-seven years ago, I had no idea honey was deadly to infants. I also didn’t believe white sugar had satanic powers so the risk of squirting honey into baby oatmeal was considerably less than it is today, but still, the mind reels.

Thank goodness for Google. How did we raise children without it back in the day? I do remember a few calls to poison control and they were very helpful. They knew just how many of the red berries of a yew shrub a 5-year-old could eat without needing a stomach pump but would they have known about killer honey?

When I finally got Lulu quietened down by shoving her gob full of oatmeal, she decided she liked the looks of my oatmeal better. Because mine was better. I had dusted it heavily with cinnamon and thrown in some dried cranberries. I wasn’t sure if cinnamon was on her approved foods list and the cranberries looked a little too ‘solid food’ for her. But like her mother, she displayed quite an affinity for red berries and I broke down and gave her some. They didn’t hurt her, but after that bite, she lost interest in her plain oatmeal. And I have to admit, I was a little proud of her.

But she was still kind of cranky and stayed that way until we got to my Mom’s a couple of hours later. Mom took things quickly in hand and began to ladle foodstuffs down her craw and didn’t let up for almost three hours. Strained turkey baby food that I had brought, some pureed pears, a bottle of formula or three, a few cups of apple juice and some makeshift mashed potatoes that she concocted by selecting from the fried potatoes she had made for our lunch, the soft ones without any char on them, mashed them up and squirted some formula on top to soften them up. Those were quite a hit.

By the time Micah had eaten every Vienna sausage in her house and Lulu had eaten everything else, Lulu was in a much better mood than she had been all weekend. The poor thing had been hungry all along. And though I had been feeding her, I hadn’t been feeding her enough.

So I learned or maybe remembered, that baby hunger is something you have to stay ahead of. Like air-conditioning in the summer. You’ve got to be proactive.

And not be shy with the shovel.

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill Colvard AT 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard AT 336-415-4699.