I mash Elliot's banana each morning. It takes longer and longer.
When it is mashed, I then mix the banana into his wee rice/oatmeal cereal -- his gruel, basically -- to make sure that he likes it. It makes it a little sweeter for him. Everybody admits that babies come equipped with a sweeth tooth.
Apparently mashed banana is an extremely common first food in many cultures. This is pleasing to think about. It's nice to stand in one's echt-20th-century steel and glass kitchen -- dishing exact amounts of calibrated whatnot out of a hermetically sealed Gerber food-pod -- and think that there is a little continuity left between ourselves and history, ourselves and the rest of the world. (That's one of the most comforting things to me about food in general, actually.)
We've been starting the day with banana porridge for a month or two now, and we have our routine. It happens seven days a week, at the same time each day. (Can I say again: this level of regimentation is a little incredible for unstructured people like Sarah & I. Even swim team practice when I was 15 was only 5 days a week.)
(In fact, the way that life is so structured makes me feel like I'm living in MY parent's house again -- like I'm the child. Each morning, there is the absolutely familiar set of kitchen sounds, the rustling of spoons, the heating tea kettle, the same kind of food being made as yesterday. The uncanny difference is that now, the familiar presence who stirs up all the noises and who makes that food . . . is not my Dad. It is me.)
Breakfast increases in size. It's confusing -- obvious, but confusing, like a Moebius strip -- how a tip of a banana, which used to be enough, has morphed into damn near half a banana. One or two tablespoons of wee gruel mixins has turned into five. Maybe six. In fact, starting this week, I gave up on the tablespoon measure entirely, and switched to the quarter-cup measure. And this has all taken place in the space of what feels like only weeks.
I mash the banana with my hands -- mostly because I can't think of a better way to do it. It gets tedious, now that there's so much banana to do. It occasionally crosses my mind, as I am chasing banana slivers around my thumb with banana-slickened finger pads, trying to smash them into yet finer goo, that this is not the most hygienic way to mash his banana. (Nor the quickest, probably. I'm just not sure what the alternatives are. How do YOU mash a banana?)
But Elliot needs to be friends with bacteria, too. They outnumber him. I learned in the Bill Bryson book, the "History of Nearly Everything"**, that there are ten times as many bacteria in our own bodies as cells. "They" are about 100 quadrillion strong (whereas the "us" in us numbers about 10 quadrillion). They would outweigh us, except that they're so small.
Hygiene has its place and all. But I mash the banana with my own hands.
** This book is such great brain candy. Everyone should read it. No really: everyone should read it. It is FUN. Trust me. It is also un-put-downable. I'm really not crazy about all of Bill Bryson's writing, but the tone he's struck in this book is disarmingly genial. I sort of miss it now that I've finished reading it.