Weetabix features in many parental stories. It sometimes seems to be the stuff of which an older baby’s, or younger toddler’s, life is composed. It is, we learn, an ideal breakfast food – nutritious, easy to prepare, easy to shovel into a baby’s mouth, perfect for learning to self-feed. But it’s like mud, only more entertaining. It’s throwable, squidgable, shapeable, splattable, it can be retrieved in lumps from the floor days after it falls there. It sometimes doesn’t seem to change much as it passes through the baby’s digestive system. It gets everywhere, and it sticks to everything. Other baby and toddler foods, though they add to the atmosphere it creates, can only aspire to its adhesive qualities. It’s the primeval slime of family life.
Sometimes it feels as if we’ll never be clear of it. I’m back in the office today, I have meetings, I put on a cream blouse I rather like, I feel the professional part again. It’s halfway through the working day before I spot the Weetabix on my sleeve. There are traces of Weetabix on the carpet, on the briefcase, on the novel I’m still trying to read. I’m not sure whether, before we left our last house, we remembered to clean all the Weetabix handprints off the walls.
When Matthew was very small I wrote that our life was about mopping up and channelling fluids. Now it’s solidified, but only as far as Weetabix.