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As many overzealous parents are wont to do, I’d like to celebrate the passage of another developmental milestone. Our little guy has recently started exploring the world of solid foods. He’s 7 months old now, so there’s nothing too surprising about this. However, there is great importance attached to this event in my mind because it...

imageAs many overzealous parents are wont to do, I’d like to celebrate the passage of another developmental milestone. Our little guy has recently started exploring the world of solid foods. He’s 7 months old now, so there’s nothing too surprising about this. However, there is great importance attached to this event in my mind because it is a portent of incredibly significant things to come in the future.
The importance of sharing of food and drink can be seen in the variety of meal customs that exist in cultures all over the world. Consider, for example, the annual celebration of Passover in Jewish culture. A meal is shared every year to commemorate the Jewish exodus from Egypt. An event that happened thousands of years ago has not been forgotten precisely because there is the regular practice of a meal every year to remember it and to teach it to the next generation. This is the sense in which a meal is not merely a meal.
With this in mind, I look forward to days ahead when I can share a special meal with my little guy in order to commemorate important events (e.g. Passover) or to celebrate momentous occasions (e.g. birthdays), or even simply to enjoy time together (e.g. bowl of cereal at breakfast). The sharing of a meal means more than simply putting calories in our bodies, as if eating is merely an inconvenient necessity. On the contrary, it is a chance to be together. It is this feature of togetherness that excites me.
Up to this point, I have not been able to connect with my little guy around a meal. All his meals have been with mom, and that’s great. But that is also why his first bites of solid food are such cause for celebration for me. Now I have a chance to connect with him over a meal, too. I can mash the banana and lift the spoon to his mouth and make eye contact while he smiles in response to the food. This is a joy to me. This is a chance for us to increase our togetherness.
This is also our first small step in a long journey toward other great shared moments. I’m borrowing an idea I got from a friend of mine. He bought a bottle of fine scotch and put it on the top shelf of his liquor cabinet. That bottle will remain there, unopened, for the next 20 years. On the day of his son’s 21st birthday, they will open the bottle and drink of it together. Until that time, he will look at that bottle often with his son and remind him that there are many good things awaiting him as he matures into a man—and many good times to have with his father throughout that maturing process.
I haven’t yet obtained the bottle of scotch, but I know we’ll never get around to sharing that drink together unless we first take a bite of the banana. Then there will be the bites of potato, then avocado, then apples. Soon, there will be pizza and burritos. Eventually, there will be steak and eggs. And so it goes until that day when we can drink scotch together, me and my young man.