One of my earliest memories of Secondo is her smashed up newborn face pressed into my breast, glug, glug, glugging away on milk. She was immediately a good eater, and a little bit of a food oddball.
When she got a little bit bigger, her nursing efficiency excelled. She wouldn’t even stop to cough. I still can’t figure out how she did it, but the child could cough while still latched on, spraying milk all over me, and her, and not miss the next glug.
Her second year brought an addiction to black beans, avocado and cherry tomatoes, halved. She only drank cow’s milk – preferably warmed in the microwave for 1 minute, even in the dead of summer. Altogether those foods were at least 50% of her daily diet.
Besides her Mr. Bailey and I, Prima, and our dog, Chance, milk has probably been the most consistently reassuring aspect of her young life.
Despite her food promiscuity in her second year, Secondo has regrettably become picky. She tends toward vegetarianism (fine by us), and relies upon the presentation of wheat- and dairy-based foods for needed sustenance.
Secondo’s food groups include: Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese, cheese sticks, apples and peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on wheat (crusts removed, please), plain pasta, cherry tomatoes, halved; mandarin and Clementine oranges and Pirate Booty.
Also, she chews her food longer than any other human being I’ve ever witnessed, particularly when she doesn’t particularly want to ingest it.
One night recently, I wanted to provide our youngest with some protein so I cut our freshly prepared teriyaki chicken into delicious bite-sized pieces and strongly encouraged her to, “Try some!” Smile, smile, smile, nod encouragingly.
After some cajoling, she dove into it. I grinned, smugly, and we began talking about the high points and low points of our day. A full 20 minutes later, Secondo began asking if she could be excused. As she asked, I spotted a flash of fleshy white tucked into the cheek of her mouth.
“Is that your chicken?!” I asked.
She dropped her chin and looked up at me through the top of her blue-green-gray eyes, nodding slightly.
“Chew and swallow, child! Chew and swallow!” I admonished, as Mr. Bailey and I shook our heads.
Several days later, Secondo got the chance to go out to lunch with my Dad.
At dinner later that evening, I asked her where they had gone.
“Papa took me to McDonald’s,” she whined, not being a big fan of the golden arches. “I had milk.”
“That’s all you had?” I asked, incredulous. She nodded solemnly.
“What did Papa have?”
“A fish sandwich.”
“Secondo, why didn’t you get something else to eat?” I inquired, as she sat not eating her dinner. “A hamburger or oranges or something?”
She shook her 4-year-old head of golden curls and placed both pudgy hands on the table, clearly exasperated by all my questioning.
“BEE-cause you don’t want me to eat things that aren’t FRESHhhhh!”
One day, we might unlock the key to Secondo’s curious appetite. Until then, we’ll just keep repeating, “Chew and swallow, Sisi, chew and swallow.”