Beltway Baby

“A young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”

–A MODEST PROPOSAL for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public.

By Jonathan Swift, 1729

My lower lip is bruised from biting down on the cannibalistic urges that Liam De Luce brings out. That fat, sweet arm would burst like bratwurst, if only I could get at it. Caitriona watches closely to make sure that doesn’t happen, but she admits she wants to bite her son too. Only women confess this to her, she says. Apart from Swift, men don’t seem compelled to bite baby flesh, even though it’s as silky and springy as kneaded dough and smells better than baked bread. At least this strange love is reciprocated. On Saturday morning, I was jolted by six sharp teeth nipping my big toe, and a cross-eyed, adoring smile.

At ten months old, Liam tiptoes delicately if someone holds both fists, and he can stand alone for a few moments, swaying on magnificent columns of pudge. His eyes are such a dark blue that they look brown in indoor light. As soon as he wakes, he gets down to the business of playing and singing, and banging on his Fisher-Price music table. Nothing would please him more than to hurl himself off the bed, but he’ll settle for the fun of being hauled back from the brink over and over. Loud, farting belly-raspberries–given and received–also entertain him. He eats like a farm laborer, and has better table manners than me.

Feelings colonize his face. He throws his being into each dramatic emotion, then lets it pass. I wish I were as wise as Liam, who trusts the universe to provide, and finds that it does.

7 thoughts on “Beltway Baby”

  1. But what about other people’s babies? I want to bite Maya too…but are we imagining it that men seem to be able to leave other people’s kids alone?


  2. I agree, it must be a woman thing – I want to nibble on my babies, and everyone else’s, so it’s lucky that my friends don’t mind the bitemarks.


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