Friday, April 4, 2014

Juicy Memories

Whenever I look upon this sight, I feel an immediate rush of stress and adrenalin, as well as an overwhelming flood of sweet and tender memories.

Guess who ate those two pieces with the soft spots at the top of the plate? 
Mmhmm. When it comes to kiwi, this mom is always willing to take the fall.

I know. It's just a plate of kiwi. But let me explain.

When my daughters were but wee bonnie babes, each one of them developed a love and deep, abiding passion for this sweet, juicy and baby-friendly fruit. Many were the meals that I served up to them a generous portion of this yumminess. But as much as they loved to eat kiwi, I had quite a task of preparing it for them.

First of all, these fuzzy oblong spheres must be allowed to ripen just so, usually in a paper bag stowed in the pantry that I checked daily. When the perfect degree of softness - but not squishiness - finally arrived, I had to move quickly. Carefully, I peeled away the rough, brown skin and gently diced the green globe into slippery bits just large enough for my baby's fingers to grasp, but small enough to slide, half-chewed, down into her eager tummy.

This, as one might imagine, was a complex and finely tuned series of tasks. Now let's amp it up a bit, by picturing said baby, sporting maybe a little whale-spout hairdo and an impish grin, wolfing that pile of precious produce down in a flash, and cheerfully demanding, "MO!" before I had time to do so much as wipe my hands. More indeed. I'll be right with you, sweetie.

And then, to complete the reality of my situation, imagine one, then two, and eventually three older sisters clustered around the same table, each enthusiastically cleaning her own kiwi-filled plate and chiming in with her own equally insistent but age-appropriately polite pleas for unlimited refills.

You get the idea. Try as I might, I found it darn near impossible to satisfy or even keep up with the demand. Of course, as the girls grew, I trained my little kiwi warriors to cut their own pre-peeled kiwi halves into manageable bites, and eventually, to use a spoon to cut around the brown edge and independently work a half-kiwi out of his fuzzy shell. But for many years, this spunky little fruit induced a feeding frenzy among my young chicks that left me weary and worn. To tell the truth, I reached my limit during their middle childhood years, and unilaterally declared an indefinite moratorium on the devilish orbs.

* * * * * 

Just a few weeks back, a sudden inspiration hit me and for the first time in a long time, I brought home a half dozen kiwi. After the proper ripening phase, I sliced them open and piled them on a plate for dinner.

One sight of those dazzling green ovals snapped me right back to baby days. A surge of can't-do-it-fast-enough frustration swept over me, and I remembered with perfect clarity how difficult it was to keep my cool when my kiwi-maniacs were all begging for more. Oh yeah, those stress-filled memories all came crashing back.

But I remembered some other things too.
Soft baby cheeks, mouths and chins dripping with green juice.  
Agile little fingers scooping up those tiny bits and popping them into toothless mouths with shocking speed. 
Gleeful voices calling out together in a chorus for more, more, MORE! 
Little feet drumming with excitement on the foot rest of the high chair when I turned around with a fresh batch of refills.  
Sleepy babes tumbling out of their lunch seats and into their beds for long, peaceful naps that were most likely filled with kiwi-eating dreams.
My traumatic relationship with the kiwi has probably scarred me for life. But the precious memories of my daughters' childhood wrapped around this furry fruit are mine to savor forevermore.

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