An Ode to This Thing

snack cup

This thing. On the coffee table of my house now sits this thing. When I see it, I nearly hear alleluias. It is a reminder of how far my daughter has come. It proffers a “pinch me” moment because it locates us in an era I was not sure we’d ever be. Let me break down for you all that this thing represents.

When Fiona hit one year old, I noticed that kids her age carried these things, these snack cup dispensers. The kids plunged their little, stout, capable hands into the tops of the cups, grabbed some goldfish crackers or rice puffs or whatever, and pulled their hands out. Then they brought the food to their mouths and chewed away. It seemed really simple, a handy way for a toddler to feed herself without spilling the whole container over, but the act of eating from a snack cup represented a dozen walls that Fiona couldn’t yet scale. Still mostly working on mush, her mouth couldn’t handle the kind of food you’d put in this thing. She didn’t chew. She hardly munched. Also, her hand wouldn’t yet bring food to her mouth, and she certainly couldn’t release the food into her mouth if it ever got there. Her fingers couldn’t pick up something as small as a wee bit of cereal. And her hand probably wouldn’t have had the aim to even get into the cup to begin with. This handy little thing was a freaking food fortress to my daughter.

And so, this thing became the strange envy of me. The club card into a more capable phase. A sign that a child could have a modicum of independence, could give herself even a handful of calories that didn’t have to be spoonfed by someone else.

But now, this thing is in our house.

Fiona’s ability to eat from it doesn’t look exactly as it does for other kids. She grabs a handful of cereal and pulls her hand out, loses some bits in the process, brings her hand to her mouth, loses more bits in that process, attempts to shove cereal into her mouth, loses still more bits. After wielding the cup for a few minutes, she is surrounded by a constellation of O’s. But each time she attempts, she gets a few little O’s into her mouth, and I hear the little crunch-crunch as her front teeth break them apart. That faint crunch is music — it underscores every former brick wall she just scaled. It is the trophy after the hundreds and hundreds of hours of trying. My girl is making progress. My girl is feeding herself.