Core lessons

Monster and I walked into the 70-degrees-and-sunny weather. He had spent all morning at work with David, and I had filled the time working.
My son – whom we were told needed “even more food in his lunchbox” – looked at me and said, “I have that? I have apple, please?”
I hadn’t eaten in hours, we had a 20-minute drive ahead of us and my stomach rumbled loudly, complemented by the baby furiously kicking.
I glanced between the apple in my hand and my son’s pleading eyes.
I couldn’t resist, so I let him have the first bite. He also got the second, third and fourth bites. His teeny mouth left dime-sized mini-craters scattered carelessly around the fruit.
Funny, I thought. This kid has no idea how to eat an apple.
Then again, it’s not like I do, either. A “lost tooth” incident in my youth had resulted in slicing the apple. I wouldn’t even know how to navigate eating an apple without a knife and traumatic flashbacks.
“Picnic?” Monster asked, implying that he’d like to sit somewhere and eat outside.
Why not, I thought. We sat in the middle of the sidewalk and passed the apple back and forth between us.
“Park?” he asked a handful of juicy bites later.
Of course, I thought. It’s a beautiful day and there is a park nearby.
The entire drive, Monster kept nibbling at the apple, baby-crater-bite by baby-crater-bite.
When we got to the park, he insisted we climb to the top of the play set and sit down in the little bit of shade there was in between slide entrances.
“Momma, your turn?” he said, offering me what was probably only my fourth bite.
As the red of the apple slowly gave way to more and more of the white fruit showing, my son and I had a wonderful conversation. We talked about the letter “A,” bugs and why babies cry.
Monster didn’t even look at the apple before biting into it. Wherever his mouth landed, he took a bite. I watched him start chipping away at the core.
By this point, he had slobbered over the fruit so much that in my apple-snobbery I declined any more bites.
He certainly didn’t mind. He held the apple in one hand and used the other to gesture at cars going past or clouds floating above us, apple juice drooling out of either side of his mouth as he spoke.
He talked about his hopes (“Have donuts for lunch?”), his fears (“Momma! Dere’s a dragon over dere!”) and his regrets (“I broked it. I broked da flowerrrr”).
Naptime eked closer, and he curled into my lap, now able to palm what was left of the apple.
“Want to go home and read books, friend?” I asked, my stomach still devastatingly empty.
“Ok, Mommy.”
I buckled him into his car seat, and he shoved the remaining piece of fruit into his mouth. He had eaten every last bit – seeds, stem, core, everything. I made a mental note to Google if it’s safe to do that and drove my little man home.
He kissed me before I tucked him into bed, his lips still sticky-sweet.
“Enjoy your nap, baby. And thanks for teaching me how to eat an apple.”

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