Actress Alicia Silverstone, best known for the 1995 film classic Clueless (and I'm not sure what else), unleashed quite a media storm last week when she posted a video of herself feeding her six month old son pre-chewed food. And not by spoon or fork, mind you, but directly from her mouth to his.
There is no question this practice is unusual -- I can't say I know a single girlfriend who used this food processing method with her kid, but hey, we all owned blenders. And while feeding children like baby birds (or in Silverstone's case cubs -- her son's name is Bear Blu) may be a meaningful way for some parents to bond with their offspring, I doubt this practice will be going mainstream.
Interestingly, there are experts in the field of maternal and child nutrition that have studied the health benefits of premastication (the fancy word for chewing your kid's food for him) and have found that the practice potentially provides both immunological and digestive benefits . And there are other studies that feel it's risky due to the potential of passing along dangerous viruses. But I don't think genuine health concerns were at the root of why this video touched an Internet nerve. I think the story outlived its 15 minutes because the practice, to our "civilized" eyes, seems just plain gross. Swapping spit is just not something we are used to doing with our children.
But I am certainly not going to judge Ms. Silverstone's choice. Because let's just say when it comes to the parent-child gross-o-meter this one barely registers for me.
I have let my child use either his or her own sleeves and then move onto mine for nose blowing during cold and flu season. I have sat smiling while my toddler vomited on an unsuspecting passenger seated next to us on an airplane. I have wiped the poopy tushies of not just my own children, but of countless neighbor children as well.
I have fished Matchbox cars out of unflushed toilets (to my kid's credit, I think they may have been Matchbox boats -- makes sense he thought they could float). I've also fished carefully placed rocks out of snotty nasal cavities. We have closed down the baby pool more than once at more than one area swim club.
The five-second rule for eating things off the floor is more like the five-day rule at our house. I think my middle child once ate an M&M, with my permission, found in the corner of the basement. It probably fell more into the five-year rule. I have knowingly shared my toothbrush with my kids on vacation. I was just too lazy to search out the closest drugstore. This probably isn't a whole lot different from premasticating, from an exchange of bodily fluids perspective.
No, I am probably not the mom to call out another mom on her decision to do something a bit, and for some very, gross.
But hey, I didn't get into this parenthood business because I expected it to be antiseptic or pristine.
For me, it's often the little messes and missteps along the way, while not always hygienic, that give me something to chew on.
Although usually not literally.