Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The tale of the Princess and the growers - A Fiddlydy tale

In the faraway land of Fiddlydy the growers of dontmakesuchafussplant were happy. The year one thousand and twelvesincethefamilyofvonfiddlydychensteinreigned had been a very good year, an excellent year. There were enough plants to feed the Fiddlydy babies until the next harvest, brew a follow-up dontmakesuchafuss juice with added addedness for babies over six months, and even maybe whip up an energetic-with-added-vitamins-and-iron-special-growth-intellectually-stimulating drink for children over a year. Oh yes, that sounded good!

If only things were still as they had been in the good old days... Not that long ago the juice of the dontmakesuchafuss plant was more than the best food for babies, it was the only food for babies ! But when the year before the whole harvest had been lost people had had to find other ways to feed their little ones. Fiddlydy scientists had managed to synthetise the dontmakesuchafuss plant, which was a lesser wrong for the dontmakesuchafuss growers. The problem was that Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenie-Mary had started feeding her baby herself and liked it and if the Princess of Fiddlydy was doing it, well, everybody tended to follow. It didn't even cost anything, which showed that there had to be something dodgy about it.  You never got anything that is any good for free!

It was even said that Princess  Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenie-Mary was a bit of a feed-your-baby-yourself activist. She encouraged other mothers to do the same and she had formed a group for feed-your-baby-yourself mothers to meet and help each other. What would be next honestly ? Keep your own teeth until they fall out (Fiddlydy people generally had all their teeth removed at the age of forty-seven, five months and eighteen days) ?! And although Princess Elfie had now celebrated her first birthday rumour had it that  her mother was still FEEDING HER HERSELF!!!

And the growers of the dontmakesuchafuss plant were right. Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary was still feeding Elfie herself. She was enjoying it immensly. She had also made some interesting discoveries about the feed-your-baby-yourself practice. Some books in the palace library related that it had been done ages and ages ago in Fiddlydy. Up until Princess Amelia-Gertrude-Brunehilde-Sidonie became the first Fiddlydy princess destined to be a Queen in her own right. Her Grand Chambellan had put an end to her feeding her baby herself and introduced the dontmakesuchafuss plant. The old custom had then died among the villagers too. For several centuries after a lot more babies died, mainly from the runs. More women also died from malign tumors of the breast. All in all 'progress' had had a high cost in Fiddlydy lives...

After her discoveries Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary was more than ever in favour of the feed-you-baby-yourself thing. But the growers of dontmakesuchafuss plant were giving her trouble. The harvest, the day before Elfie's first birthday, had been the best Fiddlydy had ever seen and the growers intended to sell their plants. They were even coming in the palace offering free bottles of dontmakesuchafuss juice, giant pens and notebooks marked 'Dontmakesuchafuss plant baby juice!' (you could not fit that on normal size pens and notebooks). The giant labels with your own address also printed on were utterly ridiculous. They were bigger than the standard Fiddlydy enveloppe...
Then the group of feed-you-baby-yourself mothers organised a public display of feeding-your baby-yourself on the market place, which was a bit of a to do. The Fiddlydy ladies clothes do not really allow to feed-your-baby-yourself discreetly, you actually have to show quite a lot of flesh. So each lady who came to the display (all thirty five of them from the palace) brought with her a lady's maid and a windscreen. Decency was saved but the display didn't display anything at all in the end. Anyway, they had made their point.
It was duly taken by the growers who retaliated by organising what they called a baby fair. Makers of perambulators, swaddling clothes and wodden rocking horses were invited. There were books and toys for the little ones, beauty creams for the mothers, and of course the dontmakesuchafuss plant juice, follow-on juice and energetic-with-added-vitamins-and-iron-special-growth-intellectually-stimulating drink.

On and on it went, feed-your-baby-yourself mothers, dontmakesuchafuss growers, feed-your-baby-yourself mothers, dontmakesuchafuss growers...
Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary, meanwhile, thought. And after lot of thought she decided to draw up some rules about how the dontmakesuchfuss plant should be offered and sold to new mothers. She got the growers to sign the rules, which were more or less to revert to what they had been doing before the loss of the harvest, when Elfie had been born. They were to sell their juice to who wanted it but no more going into the palace and offering free things, no more baby fair.
Unfortunately Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary quickly realised that the small growers of dontmakesuchafuss plants respected the rules but the big ones, the rich ones, did not.
In the end Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary did something she wasn't proud of but she felt she didn't have any other choice. She just bought the growers off, paid them handsomely to get them to work with her towards promoting feeding-your-baby-yourself.
Amazingly it worked ! And the Princess thought "If only everything was that simple..."

Copyright 2012 Mother Goutte

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The tale of the Princess and the food - A Fiddlydy tale

In the faraway land of Fiddlydy the baby Princess was now 6 months old. The Housekeeper, the Cook and the Head of Counsellors had been poised in expectation of that day as, according to the unwritten rules of Fiddlydy, it was the time when a baby started to eat solid foods.
Up until that day Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary, mother of the baby, had been feeding her daughter herself. The young mother had in fact introduced this practice in Fiddlydy, where babies were usually fed the juice of the dontmakesuchafuss plant. But the harvest had been lost when the royal baby was born and a foreigner to Fiddlydy had provided the new mother with this solution to feed her newborn.

Moreover Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary loved feeding her baby with her own milk. And even when the Fiddlydy scientists managed to synthetize the dontmakesuchafuss plant the Princess turned up her nose at the chemical formula and chose to keep on feeding her baby by her own means. It had caused a bit of an uproar among the palace Main People but the Princess did not care. She had the support of her father anyway, although he had not been too pleased that her daughter called the little Princess Elfie instead of Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary-Victoria. Later on he had conceded that it did save an awful lot of ink and paper in the royal correspondance and records...

But with the new milestone in Elfie's development Fiddlydy Main People saw a chance of regaining control over the young Princess's life! The Head of Counsellors listed all the vitamins, nutrients, proteins, minerals and what's-nots that they declared the baby needed in her diet. The Housekeeper listed all the different foods they needed to buy to provide the said vitamins, nutrients, proteins, minerals and what's-nots. And the Cook listed the recipes to accomodate a variation of the different foods to serve in one dish. All the Cook's recipes ended with 'blend together'. Then for a whole week the Cook cooked, blended and froze in lttle cubes an infinity of baby meals. They filled a whole freezer all by themselves.

And so it was that one fine day Princess Elfie was taken to the palace nursery dining-room, sat in her high chair and offered a bowl of greyish goo... In front of the bowl a menu said 'Roasted parsnips, green beans, rump steak sauce lyonnaise' and on each side of the bowl was an array of extraordinary spoons. There was a tiny spoon with a long handle, a round medium spoon with a short handle, a spoon with a handle that went at an angle in its middle, a spoon with a very deep end looking like a pelican's beak, a spoon with the oval bit placed sideways at the end of the handle, and a very strange spoon - as if all the other ones were not strange enough - with an empty circle of silver for the end... The Head of Counsellors, Housekeeper, and Cook were standing on the little Princess's left. Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary seized the closest spoon, filled it with goo and presented it to her daughter. Princess Elfie looked at the spoon with a suspiscious frown, tasted a minute bit of goo, pulled a face and promptly let id dribble down her chin. Her mother stirred the goo a little bit, filled the spoon again and offered it to her daughter. The baby clamped her mouth shut. "Come on Elfie." gently said her mother, but the little princess pushed the spoon away.
Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary turned towards the Head of Counsellors, the Housekeeper, and the Cook. "Can you leave us, please." she said. A young, impressionable mother she might be, but the Princess was also the heir of the kingdom of Fiddlydy and she was not going to let the Main People intimidate her.
As Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary was also very kind she resolved to let the Head of Counsellors, the Housekeeper and the Cook think that her daughter had eaten her diner. She disposed of it in the little toilet adjacent to the nursery dining-room. Then she took her baby in her arms and gave her a nice long feed. Princess Elfie went to sleep and while the little girl rested in her cot her mother took the empty bowl to the kitchens and warmly thanked the Cook for her daughter's meal.
Every day and every mealtime the charade repeated itself, except that Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary dismissed the Cook, the Housekeeper and the Head of Counsellors before offering anything to her daughter. She then disposed of the meal and fed the baby herself. After a week Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary grew tired ofd hiding away in the nursery dining-room for every of her daughter's mealtimes. And she needed to find a way out of this ludicrous situation.

First Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary asked that all her daughter's meals would be served in her own appartments. Then she instructed her maid to provide her with a cooking apparatus as well as some fresh ingredients every day. And when Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary had all she needed she started cooking all the different foods carefully chosen for Princess Elfie but without blending them all together. Instead she cut the food in pieces that her daughter could grasp easily.

For the next few weeks they both played at eating. Sometimes the food was in a plate on the table, sometimes they had a picnic, sometimes Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary put it in a cardoard hat box and called it a bring-it-with-us-and-eat-it-in-the-garden meal. Princess Elfie grabed and dropped and mashed and kneaded. She sucked and dribbled and chewed and coughed and spat. After quite a while she started to eat the food, bite off mouthfulls, chew and swallow. And all the while she enjoyed herself immensly.
At nine months she had a varied diet and managed well lots of differents foods while still having her mother's milk too. She was even eating some of the grey goo that was still being served to her. She likes to dip her food in it. It was just as well...

The Head of Counsellors, the Housekeeper and the Cook were growing uneasy, not knowing how Princess Elfi's feeding times were going. So they suggested to the King to have a semi-official diner with his grand-daughter. The King would be there of course, as well as Queen Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia, the Queen's mother Duchess Josephine-Elisabeth, the Head of Counsellors, the Grand Chambellan, the Prime Minister and Lady Poshgatecrasher who for some reason was attending whenever an official event was planned.

When the big day arrived Princess Elfie sat at the head of the table. A steaming bowl of grey goo was placed in front of her while the other guests were served luscious vegetables with a rich butter gloss, perfectly caramelised meats and rolls of three different sorts of breads. Princess Josephine-Elisabeth-Eugenia-Mary took a few pieces of food from her own plate and placed them in the saucer on which her daughter's bowl was resting. The Head of Counsellors blanched. Princess Elfie took a carrot in her chubby little hand. The Housekeeper turned as red as a beetroot. The baby dipped her carrot in the grey goo. The Cook nearly fainted on the spot. But neither of them could say anything. The King was warmly smiling to his grand daughter. He had spent so many meals unable to converse with the Queen while she was spoon-feeding one of their numerous children that he was delighted to be able to have all the attention of his daughter. The Queen herself was congratulating the baby on being such a big and clever girl who could feed herself. Even the old Duchess Josephine-Elisabeth, usually very stern, was smiling beningly to her great-grand-daughter.

After that diner the grey goo stopped being served to Princess Elfie, while the Main People thought of what they could do next to try and reassert their authority...

Copyright 2012 Mother Goutte

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The tale of the little acts of love

There were once a man who was expecting his first child with his fisherman wife.
As his wife was growing big he grew to love putting his hands on her belly and feel the baby move inside. He prepared healthy meals  for his wife when she came back from a fishing trip and snacks to take on the boat. He tried to make life as easy as possible at home so she could rest.
But in spite of all his efforts there were still some things that he had not foreseen and could not understand. His wife’s tastes had changed with the pregnancy and very often she would pick at the meals he had cooked for her, removing things she did not like anymore. Sometimes she got very tired for no particular reason but she could not get the rest she needed. She would suddenly cry for sheer tiredness from the abundance of sensations and feelings brought on by the pregnancy. Her husband felt very helpless and left out.
In the last term of the pregnancy she stopped going out on the boat and the husband wanted very much to get everything ready for the arrival of the baby. But his wife was scared to bring bad luck on them and lose the baby if they did so. Her fear was actually so great that she could not even bring herself to talk to her husband about it. Instead she just delayed or refused anything he wanted to do.
One day the wife had a fall in the stairs and got very afraid indeed that the baby had suffered from it. The midwife reassured her, listening to the baby’s strong heartbeat and the baby was moving in abundance, reassuring her further. She did not tell her husband, who was at work, so as not to worry him. But when he came home that night with some clothes for the baby she got so upset that he had to take them back the following day. Her husband felt helpless and very much left out.

Finally the day of the birth arrived. They had a healthy and beautiful baby girl and all the difficulties of the previous months were forgotten in this new joy.
The mother was breastfeeding her little baby girl and it seemed to take a lot of the day. The Father wouldn’t have wanted anything more than being able to feed his baby girl as well. He asked his wife to milk her breasts to fill up a bottle so he could give it to their baby. The Mother said that she could not do it before a while as her baby needed to be on the breast often so she, the Mother, would have plenty of milk. And the mother did not want her baby to have a bottle that was too easy to drink and could discourage the little girl to take the breast. The Father just heard that she did not want him to help and her felt very much left out.
The Mother offered him to bath the baby or rock her to sleep, but what he wanted was to experience the pure love he read on his wife’s face when she was feeding their baby. If he had looked more closely he would have seen that love in many other things the mother did. But somehow all the times he head felt left out and never said anything had put a veil over his eyes.

When the baby was three months old the Mother had to go back on the boat. She milked her breasts so the Father could feed the baby while she was away. The husband was sad to see his wife go and suddenly felt how much their baby needed her mother and how nice it was to see them together. He watched his wife go with his heart heavy. She had been gone for six hours and was due home soon when a man came knocking at their door. The Mother's boat, herself and her crew had gone missing...
The Father thought with alarm that he did not have anymore milk to give their daughter. He quickly sent for a wet nurse.
A good woman came to feed the baby while the Father did everything else for his daughter. That is how in his grief for his missing wife the Father lost the veil that was covering his eyes. He finally saw how much love he could give his baby in all the little things he did for her. He bathed her and dried her carefully so her skin would not get sore. If it got sore he put a special ointment on it. When she cried he kissed away her tears and sang to her. He changed her clothes when she soiled herself and tickled her toes. He looked deep into her eyes when he rocked her to sleep. He dressed her every morning, careful of not trapping her fingers in her clothes. He exhausted himself being silly so she would give him a smile. He sat with his baby daughter sleeping in his arms, keeping her warm and safe and listening to her breathing. He got up in the night to check that she was not too hot or too cold. If she woke up  he rocked her back to sleep. He tidied up the house or cooked his dinner holding his baby in his arms so she would not feel lonely. And not once, never, did he feed her with a bottle after his wife had gone missing.
He showed her all the places he loved in their village. He showed her the sea that her Mother loved so much and wondered if she would come back.

A week went by in that fashion, the Father’s love for his baby growing more every day. On the morning of the eighth day a man knocked on the door. The Mother, her boat and her crew had been found, stranded on an island of rocks. They were all well. The Father wept for joy and did a dance with his baby daughter, telling her how her mother was soon coming home.

When the Mother came home, the Father saw that her breasts were still full of milk for her baby. He gave the baby to her mother so she could feed her and in his wife’s and daughter’s eyes he could read the same deep love that he had felt, doing for his baby all the little acts of love.

Copyright 2012 Mother Goutte