My daughter will be back tomorrow and I can't wait to see her. This week, however, has given me time to spend with my youngest.
He never had the fortune of being the first, that little creature who totally capsizes your world in wonderful (and not always so wonderful) ways. The baby you spend hours staring at, playing with, nurturing. Your first baby is the one you take endless pictures of, you make scrapbooks for, recording every detail of her growth. You scrutinize the content of each and every diaper, you count the strands of hair and sprouting teeth over and over. The first is the baby you play classical music for when she is in your tummy, you do not allow near sugar and salt or anything with a bit of flavor for the first two years of her life. Your first child starts watching TV (10 minutes and no more) when she is a toddler and is only allowed to watch educational programs. You buy her specific toys and/or books for every stage of her devolopment and spend time playing/reading with her. You take her to baby massage groups and English playgroups (if you live abroad) and hum lullabies to her in a semi-dark room at naptime.
By the time your second comes along it is a whole different world. Whilst in your tummy he is already a comfy perch for the older child, forget Mozart's sweet notes. As soon as he is out, his world is a place of noise and light. No lullabies in cool, dark rooms. If he survives his older sibling he will be picking up the crumbs from her cookies and initiating his sugar intake long before he is two. Every time he starts playing with a toy, his older sister will grab it from him (well, to be fair, he will do the same). He will constantly be sucking on that made-in-China barbie or car made out of toxic materials and with a million detachable pieces that his sibling got as a present from their great aunt's cousin twice removed last month.
When I had my second child, my sister warned me I would not take as many picture of him. I promised myself I would, that he would get his personal storyboard, just like my first. I have stuck to that. But that is pretty much it.
He had his first taste of ice cream before he turned two and when he watches TV it is usually Barbie and the 200 Dancing Princesses in the friggin' Diamond Castle. Or Shrek when he gets lucky. His bedtime books are usually more intricate than the Dr. Seuss and Baby Einstein we read to him every once in a while. He has never known the delight of playing with the floating letters and Sesame Street characters all on his own.
All in all, he does have the constant entertainment and company of another child, unlike his sister did. He has a very active social life, I'll give you that, but it is really his sisters'. No fancy English playgroups and massages for that guy. He hangs out with snotty-nosed babies and cool three-year olds because they are his sister's friends'younger siblings. All in all he has it pretty good, he is stimulated (albeit in a different way than my first), he is 2 going on to 6 and has a sugar and salt-coated life.
But I for once I wanted him to feel like my first. The last and only time his sister went away he was too distraught to enjoy it. This week he did a lot better and I pampered him and cuddled him and kissed his little cheeks sore. We read the Foot Book and Good Night Gorilla over and over, we played with non-toxic games that are age appropriate and I sat with him and taught him all the tricks. He splashed in the bathtub to his delight and we watched The Bear in the Big Blue House and Thomas the Train. We both miss his sister a lot, and every time he asks where she is I am wondering the same thing, but I am grateful for every extra cuddle I can give him this week.
Since he loved the yogurt sauce (and posing with it) I made recently so much and because I am always thinking up new ways to get him to eat vegetables, I decided to make this to spoil him a little. He did not mind in the least.
Loosely inspired by Ottolenghi's recipe taught in person to the Heavenly Housewife.
For the salad
1 large eggplant
about 5 small vine tomatoes
mixed salad greens
For the sauce
200gr Greek yogurt
a bunch of mint
a bunch of parsley
1/2 small clove of garlic
half a small cucmber
extra virgin olive oil
Cut the eggplant - skin on - into similar sized wedges, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Roast, skin side down, in preheated oven at 200°C/400° F for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and soft.
In the meantime prepare your yogurt-based sauce by blending the washed mint and parsley, the peeled garlic and cucumber and the yogurt with a little olive oil, the juice of half a lime and salt and pepper. Blend and season more according to taste. Place your mixed salad greens and previously chopped tomatoes on a plate and lighty toss with oil and salt. When the eggplant has cooled, place on top of the salad and drizzle on plenty of the yogurt sauce. We had this with some roast chicken and used the leftover dressing as a dipping sauce for the white meat in. If you like your sauce thicker, blend all the ingredients before hand and mix into the yogurt manually. You can also use less cucmber or chop it finely by hand to reduce water content.