I’ve been writing a lot about milestones recently but there’s one milestone that isn’t in Elma’s little red NHS baby book. No tick box next to the weight conversion chart or in between the vaccinations and her hearing test; nor is there even a little pastel bubble or flowery box to complete in either of her somewhat neglected pretty-pretty baby books (I dusted them off and checked). But it’s a milestone that I think every parent who ever weaned a baby will instantly recognise.
It takes place at the dinner table. A quiet, relatively peaceful family meal; the usual jumble of mismatched crockery, mislaid cutlery and snatches of conversation about daily minutiae, nothing special or extraordinary to let you know what is to come.
But then you look away from your baby, just for a fraction of a millisecond, and when your gaze returns what was before a relatively clean infant, with only small smudges of food brushing enormous cheeks as little splatty hands bang the table in search of more food, is now a vision in orange.
Pasta smooshed into fluffy brown hair starts to weld itself to her scalp with the adhesive affection only previously shown by porridge towards the base of your favourite saucepan.
The pelican pocket at the base of her bib which had previously been such a reliable dam against the enslaught of mildly chewed titbits, crumbles in the face of this new avalanche, rolling trottole tricolore down her knees from whence they plop to the footplate in a squidgy damp patter.
And the small green spotty dish, so recently filled with supper, that you thought was still in your hand, and out of reach of even her very bestest stretch is hoisted aloft in triumph by a tiny girl, and then promptly chewed, just to check that it isn’t secretly made out of cucumber (Elma’s current favourite).
It’s a mystery to me why it isn’t a recognised milestone – especially when it looks like this.
This blog is the most accurate of my babies’ baby books, with as many pages, photos and flowery bubbles as I want. And so let the record show that the first time that baby Elma upended her dish of pasta-shapes in homemade tomato sauce over her head was on Monday 19 August 2013. And should the record be hungry, the recipe is in the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook and it’s delicious!
The record should also note that the young lady in question was scooped up at arms length and taken straight upstairs where repeated bathing rendered her only slightly less glow-in-the-dark, though no less happy.
I’d love to know what she’s thinking – “Orange you glad you took off my vest!” perhaps.
Any other suggestions?