The sweet smell of mashed vegetables enter my nostrils and my nose twitches.
Baby Girl is sitting in her high chair again, smacking the tray in front of her with chubby hands and humming rhythmically like a musician playing to her own tune.
Mom pulls up a chair with a purple plastic bowl in her hands. The sweet scent of peas wafts down to my two-foot level.
My tail wags me forward and toe nails click on the kitchen floor as I skulk over to Mom’s bare feet. Lying down, but attentive. I’d drop my head between my paws, but I’d rather smell Baby Girl’s food over the disinfectant mom used to wipe the floors this morning.
I know Mom won’t feed me. But, I also know when bits of food fall to the floor from the little hands, it’s my chance to sample Baby Girl’s lunch. Mom doesn’t even try to stop me. Actually, she usually seems happy as I lap the floor, smiling with a laugh in her throat.
Curling one foot under her butt to sit more comfortably, Mom pulls back the sleeves of her loose sweater before enticing Baby Girl with a red spoon dipped in green food.
The mush isn’t that enjoyable. I’d much prefer one of my biscuits or a sampling from Mom and Dad’s meals, like scraps of beef or chicken from their plates. I haven’t enjoyed the last several tastes of Baby’s mashed peas, yet I still have to give every little drop a lick. It’s a compulsion, I guess. I can’t help it anymore than I can help my tail swishing behind me. If Mom and Dad give it, I will eat it. I can’t understand why Baby doesn’t follow the same rule.
Mom entices Baby Girl with a couple spoonfuls before those small fingers jam into the nearly toothless mouth, then fling back out like a slingshot, wiggling her digits over my head, wet and green from the contents of unswallowed food.
The first puke-green bits of mush fall to the floor.
“Come on, Baby. I thought you liked the peas… Aren’t you hungry?” Mom’s voice is as weak as the smile she gives Baby Girl.
I jump to my feet and lick the linoleum. If Baby doesn’t want it, I’ll gladly take whatever Mom dishes out. Tasting the peas and something else coating my tongue, scraping the mash against my teeth and scrunching my nose in distaste.
What is that new flavor…?
Mom laughs through her nose.
Nose to the ground, I feel another drop of food nick my ear before I inhale the small puddle.
This girl really needs to learn the rules of eating around here. Can’t be picky, kid.
Mom grunts down to wipe the top of my head and pointed ear while I lick my chops.
“You sure you like it, bud? Why do you keep trying it?”
Exhaling a snort, a little green spatter flings further on the floor from my nose and the back of my throat gets a slight burn.
“Ahh, Bo. I have to clean that now,” Mom exhales loudly, straightening herself up in her chair, running a hand over loose strands from her bun.
Mom’s cloud of fatigue and frustration enwrap me like a fog. My instinct to comfort is confused. What went wrong? I heard my name, but I know Baby is the fuel for the exhaustion fumed from Mom lately.
Seeing the spray of green on the floor, my nose follows the trail, where my tongue laps up each fleck of pea.
Mom’s dark cloud dissipates and she begins to giggle.
“Thanks, Bo. Do you like the addition of carrots? We’re trying something new today,” she turns to Baby Girl, “Aren’t we, Sweety?” her voice drops into gurgles that resemble the baby mumbling through her food.
After several rounds of tasting, dropping, and me slurping the floor, Mom finally asks,
That sweet, tired tone of hers was once only directed at me. Now, I recognize that she’s asking Baby Girl.
High pitched bubbles and a squeak of frustration with an arched back against her chair was the response Mom got.
“Okay, okay. Hold on.”
Mom proceeds to wipe Baby’s face with a small cloth, despite the wriggling and whiny complaints.
When Baby is unstrapped and removed from her chair, I jump to lick whatever remnants of green have been left in the crevices of the footrest and under the seat cushion.
Mom is returning with a toweled up Baby in her arms as I resume my pre-lunch spot, plopped on the corner dog bed.
A flush of warmth exudes from Mom as she looks at the high chair.
“Bo, you are such a good boy!” Mom praises.
Raising my head, my tail twitches up and down, flopped on it’s side on the floor.
“Yes, you are! You are a good boy! Isn’t he, Baby Girl? Isn’t Bo the best boy?”
Mom smiles even bigger, brightening the room with rays of happiness.
Baby Girl laughs higher and louder than I’ve ever heard.
My head cocks to one side at this new sound that’s slightly uncomfortable to my ears, though I can appreciate the joy emitted with it.
A lightness in my chest has me hop to my feet, my mouth dropping open to smile with my females as a warming joy fills me, exciting my prancing feet and wagging tail.
Mom reaches her free hand to scratch my head, and I lean against her leg, pointing my black nose up to her as baby reaches little fingers to touch the tip of wetness and fiddle with my nostrils.
At least she smells nice. Baby always smells so sweet.
Her giggle bubbles add an extra lightness to the room as Mom’s smile grows and my ears pin flat to my head.
I’m used to the scent and familial vibe Baby inherited from Mom and Dad. But, I didn’t know Baby could light up the room with happiness just like Mom could.