Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The sudden sucking frenzy

The sucking frenzy had broken out on a quiet weekend night, with Mum out with friends and Pa warming up a nice bottle of milk for Sonny.

It had been some weeks since we'd had to deploy the bottle on the little fella, but Pa wasn't expecting difficulties: After all, shouldn't our son be thoroughly accustomed by now to bottle-feeding at the infant care centre? But as Pa cradled Sonny and prepared to manoeuvre the bottle into his mouth, things went crazy in a hurry.

Sonny's hands lashed out to grasp the bottle, like the tentacles of an attacking octopus. Before Pa could react, the little monster had his mouth latched on to the teat, and fearsomely loud sucking sounds issued. The fella was drinking in air, as best as Pa could tell! Frantically, Pa tried to lean Sonny back and position the bottle at an angle that would allow milk to flow in. Bad move: Sonny's mouth was detached from the teat. Instantly, he began to thrash about as though zapped by a Taser gun. His hands yanked at the bottle, but so clumsily that the teat swished at his nose and eyes rather than docking with his lips.

After a several seconds of this domestic comedy routine, Pa finally rammed the bottle into Sonny's mouth. Briefly, order was restored to the world. The little fella noisily gulped down milk. But then he released and began bawling tragically. It appeared he was unhappy that he wasn't being allowed to drink milk "his own way", and would rather go without than suffer the indignity of being force-fed.

Following this disconcerting incident, a full investigation was launched. It turned out that infant care staff had told Mum some time ago that they were teaching Sonny how to feed on his own. He's just a week shy now of hitting five full months and therefore, in his caregivers' judgement, ready to embrace the initial taste of independence. It would appear, however, that Sonny is presently caught in a sort of milky no-man's-land. Left to his own devices, his arms and hands are not yet strong or skilled enough for him to grasp a milk bottle, then raise it to his lips in such a way as to draw milk into his mouth. Yet he clearly so savours the illusion of liberty that Pa's attempts to feed him in the old manner of positioning the bottle over his head would no longer do. No, Sonny wanted to have some control over the proceedings - even if it meant sucking in air.

Anyway, we're now shopping for age-appropriate drink receptacles so as to respect the young fella's burgeoning need to assert himself. Some containers come with straws, for instance, so that his penchant for enthusiastic sucking might be put to good use. In the meantime, luckily, Sonny 2.0 hasn't yet manifested any bizarre new preferences when being breastfed by Mum.

Heaven knows what might be percolating in his weird little mind.