Here, Juniper Bear is modeling a bib. It is not just a bib, but the most technologically advanced bib ever produced, and I am including the creations of every matriarchal, infantcentric society that may have existed in the annals of human history. Because it covers an area greater than the 60-square-inches that is considered adequate by your average twenty-first century American bib purveyor.
When it arrived two Christmases ago from my brother in Japan, Husbot dubbed it Mbot’s “Japanese Eating Coat.” (Since then, I have learned you can procure bibs of the same design on the internet from any number of manufacturers. Yet major retailers still have not caught on.)
Although we have two of them, we have used neither for almost a year now because Mbot is actually becoming a neater eater, and because Gbot refuses to wear a bib. He also does not like hats. This does not include the Sponge Bob padded miniature toilet seat he repeatedly wears on his head only to have it slip down around his neck, at which point he comes to me with the complaint, “I stuck.”
Yesterday morning, we had yogurt with breakfast. (Recipe of the month: when Midgets catch on that plain yogurt’s not as good as blueberry yogurt, mix the two half and half: half the sugar with almost all the taste). For the first time since April, there was a chill in the kitchen air. All summer, I have been feeding Gbot breakfast au naturel above the diaper line because not only does he refuse a bib but also, being just twenty-four months, he is messy. But yesterday it was chilly. I couldn’t strip the kid down. And so I got out the Japanese Eating Coats.
I put my foot down. If you don’t wear this, then you don’t eat. There was a fuss.
But then I danced.
Kicking one heel high in front of me, leg not quite straight to avoid rupturing a hamstring, I hopped in the air. Then I kicked up the other leg. I swung my arms. At the same time I chanted, in time with my high kicks, “Japanese Eating Cooooooaaaaat, Japanese Eating Coooooaaaaat! Japanese Eating, Japanese Eating, Japanese Eating Coooooaaaaat.”
Mbot was grinning like he was at the fair. Gbot giggled uncontrollably. “Again!” “Again!” he demanded, and I indulged him until I was out of breath. They put on their Japanese Eating Coats and ate their yogurt.
So that afternoon, after picking Mbot up from school and running a few errands, it was late and everyone was tired. But we had one more stop: the eye doctor for contact lenses that had just arrived. I bundled grumpy everyone out of the car. In we went. Out we came to fetch my ID. In we went again. Out we came. “Not going home,” stated Gbot with finality.
Put your money where your mouth is, Midget, I said to myself, and strapped him back in the car. But the moment begged for levity. I glanced surreptitiously side to side. And then, in the eye doctor’s rather full parking lot, I threw my leg up high. “Japanese Eating Cooooaaaaat, Japanese Eating Cooooooooaaaaaaat….” Mbot grinned. Gbot giggled wildly.
Never one to leave good enough alone, I tried the Eating Coats again this morning. They went on well. Mbot likes his, and Gbot usually wants to do what Mbot does. Feeling frisky, I decided to try my dance again. It was a tougher audience this morning. Gbot watched me like he was a hundred years old and had seen it all before. Mbot paused, spoon in the air, and raised his eyebrows. “Dat looks like it could hurt your body,” he said.
“Yes,” I said, both feet back on the ground. “Yes, it could.”
And I turned around to finish making my coffee. It was perhaps the shortest stage run in history. A theatrical disaster, but a personal triumph. Because they were wearing their bibs.
When has foolishness worked for you?