I’ve been on a cook-a-thon the last few days. Motivated by a disaster I had last week.
With Jools currently being weaned I had started to build a frozen supply of lovingly pureed ice-cube sized portions of pears, apples, mangos, sweet potato, butternut and first meals. I had even labelled them in little freezer bags bought especially to store them like a good OCD mother hen. I marvelled at my efforts and even bragged of them to another Mum when she popped over for tea, such was my pride.
That right there was my downfall, bragging. I’m sure.
Last week, during feeding time at the zoo Jools was having poached salmon with 300 vegetables (a la Annabel Karmel recipe) when i noticed something very small and whitish on her cheek that she had pushed out with her tongue. It was only because it caught the light that I saw it, so tiny was it. Horrified, thinking the salmon may have bones in it I wiped it off her mouth to inspect. It wasn’t a bone, but for the life of me I couldn’t work out what it was. It was slightly curled and jagged looking, it could be stretched and wait for it, looked like plastic. Plastic?……YES it was flaming plastic !!!
Taking what was left of her meal I smeared it out onto a black chopping board to investigate. I could see other smaller pieces of white glistening amongst the food.
Unbeknown to me I had been feeding her plastic that had somehow got into her food.
Utterly nauseous and panicked about what I should do, she had eaten 3 or 4 spoonfuls of plastic laced salmon at the most before I spotted it, but would that be enough to harm her? I picked her up and started walking around singing to her, like that would make it better. Jool’s didn’t quite know what to make of it. One minute she’s having salmon spoon fed to her the next she’s being carried about with me singing ‘the wheels on the bus’ in her face.
I desperately questioned how this happened when suddenly the penny dropped. When i had been using my hand blender which by the way was one of the few kitchen items that my husband had contributed on our household merger some years back, it had started to make a different noise to what it used to. It still pureed effectively so I thought no more of it. What it had actually been doing was pureeing off tiny slivers of plastic from the handheld joist into my baby’s food.
Of course I blamed my husband and HIS defective blender immediately.
I then realised that the meal I had been feeding her had been one of three meals i had prepared that day when the blender had started to make the weird noise. Totalling up to about 30-35 dinners all of which i now had to throw away, along with the damned blender. Even if it transpired they didn’t contain any plastic I could never be 100% certain of it and with her health & safety of paramount importance I had to err on the side of caution.
It was so irritating to chuck bag after bag of carefully labelled home cooked food into the bin. All that remained in the freezer were the early meals i had prepared and there weren’t many of them left.
At her next meal i gave her one of those; broccoli & cauliflower. Until half way through feeding her again i saw a piece of plastic. I was still feeding my child plastic!, yet this came from a batch that i deemed safe (before the blender started to make a different noise).
I was left with no alternative but to throw out every single meal I had prepared to date using that damned blender.
I felt awful. One for continuing to feed her plastic and the other for the waste of money, effort & food. I was so frustrated and the thought of starting over again, well I wasn’t ready to go back there just yet. So i reached for the ‘Ella’s Kitchen’ and fed her shop bought until i was able to muster the strength to crack on again.
There is nothing at all wrong with buying shop bought food let me add. I don’t want to come across as self-righteous or pious when it comes to food and/or weaning. It’s just a much more expensive alternative then doing your own and the food in my opinion tends to be a little sweeter then the real deal. Having a balance of the two, dipping between your own stash and shop bought for convenience is the best of both in my humble opinion.
Soon enough I was back at our local farm buying the vegetables and sourcing the fish & meat and then I went into cooking over drive. I made cottage pie, spaghetti bolognese, fish pie & lamb casserole, staple meals for the girls when i need them. I even bought a gammon joint for Easter – boiling then honey roasting. I nipped into our local £ shop and bought lots of plastic food containers, portioned the cooked food up, labelled the containers and then shoved them in the freezer. Exhaling a huge breath of relief that the job was done, again. Whilst praying to God, please let there be no plastic in them.
Of course, I bought myself a new blender and am ready to wield it on demand as the food frozen will be shared between the two girls this time. One who has lumps the other who doesn’t. Genius !
At the time of living the blender disaster I was consumed with rage and fear. It was all i could think of whether i had done any lasting damage to her and my stupidity for not being more cautious and aware.
99.99% of parents spend their lives trying to protect and safe guard their children from real and imagined threats, as babies right up until adulthood & beyond. I don’t think you can ever stop being a parent, even if you wanted to be. It is quite possibly the most physically & emotional role you can ever play, trying to control the uncontrollable and keep them from harms way.
I was telling my friend about the blender disaster over the telephone, including all the soap opera dramatics to exaggerate my point as well as being mindful to not brag about my new stash of food in the freezer (this time). She had called to tell me about a friend of her’s whose son is a few weeks older than Belle. He has just turned 2 and has been diagnosed with Liver Cancer. The prognosis doesn’t look great and he is currently under the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea undergoing treatment. In one fell swoop of hearing of another’s tragic tale I was able to put our plastic disaster into perspective, so that it didn’t even register on the scale.
How do these parents cope with such news? How do they put one foot in the front of the other with a smile on their faces trying to emit an air of positivity around their off spring. The fact of the matter is they have no choice but to cope. It’s one thing to blame yourself for inadvertently putting plastic in your childs dinner but the intolerable guilt a parent must feel when seeing your own be taken so seriously ill must be horrific. Wondering if there were anything they might have contributed or done different to change the outcome.
It pains me to hear of such sadness for other families. To know of other parents suffering such fate and it’s a valuable reminder that we must be thankful for all that we have. It’s so cliched to say that but the more i hear of other parental suffering, the more acutely i feel it.
In my case, accidents happen. They will continue to happen and I will never be able to fully protect my children, that is a terribly difficult fact to make peace with, yet what can you do? Nothing, because worrying won’t change a damn thing.