Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tooth or Dare

My husband has been mocking me for the past 5 months because I keep saying that our daughter is teething. And I keep insisting that one of these days I’ll be right. Well, yesterday afternoon, I finally was. There’s a sharp little tooth cutting through those shell-pink gums. It is officially the end of letting her chew on my face.

As excited as I am to finally be right, I’m also a little bit sad. There’s something incredibly charming about a gummy baby grin. When a tooth appears, it’s still adorable but it’s a different adorable. It’s slightly more grown up, slightly less innocent. And knowing that Katie is my last baby, it’s a bit bittersweet. Never again will I have a child of mine grinning at me with a toothless grin. My last baby has entered a new phase: teeth.

She’s shown a lot of interest in food lately, so this new tooth will come in very handy. Having an older brother definitely makes her different from her kind-of-only-child brother, who had no-one but adults around him. My son often eats his meals sitting on the floor in his footless high chair, so she is the perfect height to check out what he is eating, and she surely does. She is fascinated by what he eats, and usually tries to steal it. And the delightful thing is that he wants to share with her. He is thrilled at her admiration, and loves to offer her treats from his meals. If he has chunks of apples, of cantaloupe, or bananas, she steals a chunk or two to gnaw on. If he has pizza, he offers her the crusts. If he has a breakfast bar, he wants to give her a taste. I love how generous he is to her.

And now that she has a tooth – soon to be teeth – there is nothing she can’t try. As long as it’s not a choking hazard, I’m up for letting her take a crack at anything that grabs her attention. My son is not an especially picky eater, but it took him a long time to be willing to eat meat, and even vegetables (other than squash) are still not his “thing,” yet she is excited about everything right now. One of the benefits of being a second child, I suspect, is a willingness to try anything. And when her brother is around, he’s ready to offer her anything he has.

So far, she’s gnawed on pizza crusts, apple rings, and chicken nuggets. She attempts to steal her brother’s breakfast bars, toast, sippy cups of milk, and French fries. Pretty much anything that’s on his plate, she’ll take a crack at: cantaloupe, French toast, hot dog chunks. I think she’ll learn more about eating from what’s on her big brother’s plate than anything she’ll learn from mom & dad.

And since her big brother loves offering her samples from his plate, I have no doubt that her eating habits will be even better than his. Just one more of the benefits you don’t really realize you get from having a big brother. Not to mention the fact that he loves to help make chocolate chip cookies. That, if nothing else, guarantees him “Best Big Brother” status forever.

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