“Those babies were starving!” The baby-sitter exclaimed when I called for a report. The baby-sitter comes to give the Munchkins lunch and back yard time if we are both away all day. Their state of deprivation is usually the first thing she mentions. The Munchkins love food. Mealtime is the best thing that’s happened all week, three times a day.
Treats are wonderful. Ivan and Dasa are, shall we say, food motivated. They expect payment for all sorts of things, and their hearing is significantly improved by the inclusion of the word “treats” in any conversation. Their hearing is most acute when “chicken,”—the magic poultry word—is murmured ever so softly.
Their meals are carefully measured out into their dishes so they receive uniform amounts of food. Ivan is food aggressive, so his dish in its little raised stand is delivered out to the patio or into the bathroom next to the kitchen. After the door closes behind him, Dasa is served in the kitchen. They fairly leap into their food, wolfing it down as though we’ve starved them for days. Their dishes are licked clean in minutes. Food, oh joy; it’s a wonderful thing.
The concept of free feeding is one we have no more than a nodding acquaintance with. Should we be foolish enough to give them continual access to nourishment, the Munchkins would look like those inflatable animals that totter unsteadily along on wobbly paper feet. Yes, my elegant babies would resemble those mini-blimps on ribbon leashes that florists and gift shops always seem to have in supply.
We cook for Ivan and Dasa, freezing containers of their food and carefully measuring out the pre-determined amounts. They would happily eat twice as much, and do their best to persuade each parent in turn that the other human completely forgot to feed them. They’ve succeeded in this ruse once or twice, and gleefully gobbled up a second meal without a moment’s hesitation. They were triumphantly stuffed little puppies, ready to go for thirds.
Eric and I learned long ago that we are much more appealing, fascinating, dare I say mesmerizing, when we have food. Our conversation sparkles, our jokes are funny, our stories are listened to with rapt attention. They very nearly rest their heads on their little paws and sigh with adoration. Should we allow this to go to our heads, all we have to do is look for the same reaction when we are empty-handed. It is, as one might imagine, not the same at all. Yes, they love us, but our rock star status vanishes along with our last bite of ice cream.