90: Love on the Menu

90: Love on the Menu

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love

Love on the Menu

Grandmother — a wonderful mother with lots of practice.

~Author Unknown

“Mom! We’ve arrived!” I called, as I pushed open the screen door. After eight hours in the car, my husband, our six-month-old son and I had at last driven down the long driveway to my parents’ home by the lake. The cool breeze from the shore and the shade of the tall pine trees offered relief from the heat of the summer day.

“Welcome!” my mother cried as she emerged from the kitchen and reached out to hold Timmy. “It’s been three months since we’ve seen this little guy!”

Several months earlier, my husband and I had taken Timmy to visit my parents’ home in Massachusetts. On that occasion, my brother and his wife had flown in from California with their new baby boy. The cousins met for the first time at Gramma’s house. My mother had made grand preparations as two sets of inexperienced parents descended on her home with portable cribs, diaper bags, and baby toys. On the refrigerator door, she had written the words, “Welcome Andy & Timmy!” and she had used kitchen magnets to create a scene of diapers drying on a long laundry line.

Could two boys be more different? Andy was slender, Timmy was chunky. Andy whimpered gently while Timmy used his voice at full throttle to let the world know his needs. Both boys were teething and drooling, so Gramma produced frozen juice bars to soothe their gums. Now on this second trip to her home, Timmy already sported eight new teeth!

“Are you hungry?” Gramma asked Timmy as he squirmed in her arms, anxious to get on the floor and explore this new world.

“Thanks, but he can wait, Mom,” I replied. “I just nursed him in the car. I brought some Cheerios and rice cereal with us for him.”

I had only recently introduced Timmy to “real” food. The parenting magazines had warned me about introducing new foods one at a time, about avoiding foods like eggs and peanuts that might cause allergic reactions, about grinding the food carefully. I soon realized that my mother had not read those magazines.

When I got up after a brief nap, I found Timmy seated with my mother at the dining room table. Timmy was happily licking peanut butter off his fingers.

“He was hungry so I made him a little sandwich. I hope that was okay?”

“Er, fine,” I replied. After all, what could I say? Short of pumping his stomach, there was nothing I could do. Trying to add authority to my words, I added, “Doctors say that peanut products could cause him to develop allergies later.”

“Oh, he seems to be just fine. Children are very resilient. They survive an amazing variety of parenting styles.”

Over the next days Timmy’s menu expanded rapidly. Bananas, ham salad (never mind all the preservatives and nitrates), egg salad, honey, spaghetti and meat sauce. He gummed them all with gusto. My mother handed him the food and he figured out a way to get it down. Seeing the special bond forming between these two people I loved, I learned to relax and enjoy my son as much as he enjoyed stuffing his mouth.

Twenty-five years later Tim still has no sign of allergies. Gramma may not have followed doctor’s orders, but she was right about one thing: Grandchildren are very resilient creatures.

~Emily Parke Chase

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