Monday, September 19, 2011


I cut half the mango into baby-hand sized chunks, and use the knife to push them into Elsie's bowl. 'Mango?' I ask her, as she follows me out to the dining table. She looks up expectantly, so I scoop her up, slotting her legs into her highchair holes and her arms into her long-sleeved big. She leans towards the mango, and soon has a chunk in each hand, the juice dripping off her chin and a look of content concentration as she chews.

I bring the other half from the kitchen and take a bite. It's a good ripe one. For a moment the two of us share a happy quiet moment. Suddenly, Elsie stops chewing, drops one of her chunks and points her finger at my hand, and the remainder of the mango.

'Elsie', I start, 'this is Mummy's mango. It's exactly the same as yours, just not cut up. You eat yours and if you want some more later, I'll give you some.' Her mouth pouts, but she follows my pointing finger and takes a fresh chunk from her bowl. I put mine aside for a moment, and sit back.

Elsie turns to me and smiles a wide grin, mango visible behind her three teeth. I smile back, and tell her what a clever girl she is to chomp away with so few teeth helping her. She moves a hand towards me, holding out a piece of mango. I suddenly feel inadequate. 'Are you sharing your mango with me?' I ask, as she maintains her grin. Her hand is steady. I take a small bite and she opens her mouth with mine, bringing it closed and 'num-num-num'ing as I chew the shared mango.

I think I thought being a parent was about teaching rather than learning. I've never been more wrong.