Fresh Pressed Garlic Juice & Other Baby Foods
I could barely restrain you when I was tasked with passing you to your mother to nurse. You’d see the breast and transform in my arms—from a sweet and content baby one moment to a rabid velociraptor in the next. You weren’t even pacified when you began to nurse. It was often your belief that the milk wasn’t pouring forth fast enough, and you would pause nursing to scream threats into your mother’s chest in an effort to motivate her breastmilk to pour out more freely and in greater volume.
The sounds you make when you’re nursing are commensurate with every other aspect of your being. The slurping, sucking sounds can be heard through walls and between floors. I have thought of growing rich by recording your sounds and selling them as sound effects for a cartoon studio. I would name your many sounds with the creative verve of Crayola: slurpy spaghetti, thoughtless toot, midget growl, and screaming into the abyss, among others.
It was a big day when your mother produced a jar of baby apple puree to try. It was your first food, she told me with excitement, and I looked at the floor when I agreed. In fact, I knew that you’d already tasted a variety of foods other than breastmilk before. It seemed that every time I heard you cry on the baby monitor, I was either eating or cooking, and that caused me to dash up the stairs to your nursery with crumbs, flavors, and other traces of food coating my hands. Usually, you were lucky and you tasted the remnants of a cookie or the grease of a burger, but once, you howled at me to replace your pacifier while I was midway through making pizza sauce. More specifically, I was digging the residue out of a garlic press. I looked at the sink, but your pitch was urgent and your mother was napping, so I ran up the stairs instead.
I stormed into your pink nursery to save the day. I tripped over the ottoman, stumbled into the sidetable, and impaled my foot on one of your toys in the few strides it took me to mutter and groan my way to your crib. I placed the pacifier in your mouth, but you spit it out and latched your drooling gums onto my finger. I fought you for a moment, but then I realized the struggle would wake you even further and ruin the prospects of a longer nap. I thought to myself, “she probably won’t even taste it.”
I was rationalizing.
As your mouth sealed over my finger I felt your tiny wet tongue exploring my fingerpad saturated in garlic juice. I imagined what it would be like to only know the taste of breastmilk, and to then be introduced to a second taste of fresh pressed garlic residue. I frowned at the thought of it, and in a beautiful moment of synchronicity, my frown met yours as it crept across your face. You spit my finger out, stared at it incredulously, and then slowly looked up at me. Two frowns silently looking at each other in a dark room amidst a roaring sound machine, one accusatory and the other apologetic. And that was the end of your nap.
When you mother carefully shoveled a small spoonful of the apple puree into your mouth, you ate it cheerfully, if you could call it eating. More accurately, the thick liquid ended up everywhere, and a small proportion ended up in your tummy. Your mother told me she thought you liked it, and I, speaking from experience, solemnly added that you didn’t hate it.