High Chair

Flushing, New York — 1969

The arm rests of the high chair have thin wire spokes beneath them and one is loose. I like to play with it, move it up and down. I do this as I watch my mother prepare my lunch.

She putters around the kitchen, stoops to retrieve a pot from under the sink, fills it with water; removes a box of pastina from the cupboard.

Packey, the family dog, sits next to the high chair, sniffs at my knees, wets them with his moist nose. The sun shines through the kitchen window, the breeze lightly blowing the curtains. The sounds of birds, the leaves rustling in the wind.

When the pastina is ready my mother pours it out into a little blue bowl, retrieves the small pale blue rubber tipped spoon from the drawer. Packey sits up, thinks it’s for him. My mother shoos him away, pulls up a chair, places the bowl of pastina down on the tray in front of me. I still play with the loose spoke under the arm rest, resist as she tries to feed me the pastina. It’s bland, tasteless. However she’s persistent and when the first spoonful enters my mouth, my first impulse is to spit it out.

There’s warmth, the smell of butter, yet I still resist.

However I have no say in the matter and soon I’m eating what she gives me. I feel the touch of the rubber tipped spoon as she clears away the excess pastina from my chin, my hand clenched around the loose spoke, moving it up and down.