Social Eater

I’m no anthropologist, but at a glance it seems as though food is an important part of pretty much every culture. In ours, it’s easy to see. Wooing a girl? What’s the first step? Take her out to dinner. Inviting friends over? What’s generally the central activity? A good meal. Or at least a snack buffet in which everyone contributes something. And now, as I’m raising a baby, I can see how that trend begins.

When we start out in life, eating has to be a social activity. A baby cannot feed itself—other people simply must be involved. And the baby learns that feeding time is also an expression of the parents’ love. Baby is cuddled close and talked to while he or she eats. Whether Mom or Dad does the feeding, it’s a time to bond as well as eat. Then we transition from breast and/or bottle to table foods. Even then, the baby cannot do the simple task of transferring food from plate to mouth and another person has to be involved in the process. Once we finally get that skill down, it’ll be years before we can actually prepare our own food. And the person doing the preparing puts a lot of work into each and every meal. The cook wants to sit with you and enjoy the fruits of his or her labor and relishes watching you do the same, and providing food continues to be an expression of love as well as simple nourishment.

And there you have my thoughts as I’m confined to a rocking chair for hours a day feeding my little one.

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