I stopped writing. I didn’t want to. I didn’t intend to. Like most Irish people, I blame the EU. 2013 brought the Irish Presidency of the EU and Mr Oh’s hours got longer and later. There was no-one to hold the baby as I tootled away on my keyboard.
This coincided with another unfortunate development - Baby A started to eat food. What began as a relatively simple procedure (pour baby rice into bowl, add milk, shovel into baby’s mouth) became increasingly time consuming as Baby A realized that he wanted to eat everything, all the time. I spent my few free moments peeling, steaming and pureéing vast quantities of fruit and vegetables as Baby A sat in his highchair shrieking at the top of his lungs and throwing handfuls of mashed avocado at the wall. He ate every single thing I put in front of him (apart from bananas), making loud gobbling noises as he went and occasionally trying to push the pulverized mush through his belly button, as if that might be a faster way to get it in. Kilos of carrots, piles of apples, absolute mountains of sweet potato - it was all suctioned merrily into his tummy.
Suddenly, I didn’t have just one meal a day to cook but four. One for Mr Oh, and three for his hungry boychild. Every taste, every new flavor and texture was a revelation to him. The first time he tried a croissant he was so overcome that he lay flat on his back for about twenty minutes afterwards lolling happily in a pool of flakey crumbs. After months of doing baby sign language in the hope that he would be able to communicate lofty thoughts at a young age, the very first word he signed back at me was ‘more’. Six months later, it’s still the only word in his repertoire.
He swiftly graduated from steamed mush onto more sophisticated tastes - chicken curry, spaghetti laden with garlic and herbs, olives, baked pasta dishes, oriental stir fry i.e. adult food. The upshot of this is that I no longer have to cook separate baby meals. He just eats what Mr Oh eats…and about the same amount too.
I’ve been trying actively to introduce new flavours in preparation for today. At 7 months I started adding coriander to his food, at 8 months onion and garlic, at 10 months chill pepper and then, just after his first birthday we moved him to China and fed him dumplings. So that, essentially, is what we did today - we moved to Shanghai and gave Baby A dumplings for dinner. He seems remarkably unfazed. I like to think the hint of coriander in his puréed sweet potato all those months ago is making the transition easier.
I’m not entirely heartless though. I let him have a croissant for lunch - just to ward off the culture shock.