The Bean Eatin’ Machine slams his palms on the plastic high chair tray. His large, blue eyes scan the ceramic bowl in my hand for the next serving. He moans. He kicks. He shakes his head side-to-side. I stop to answer a text message. He screams and launches sweet potato to the floor.
I scramble to supply black beans to his small palms, so he can shove them into his mouth causing his cheeks to protrude. Bean after bean, he chews, swallows, and extends his right arm to call for more. I deliver beans until he tilts his head back and appears on the verge of explosion. Pieces of black bean skin cover his face.
Henry, aka The Bean Eatin’ Machine, gobbles black beans, white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, and black-eyed peas. The only bean he turns down are Garbanzo beans.
He devours beans on the airplane. He devours beans on the subway. He devours beans on the bus. He devours beans in the park. He devours beans on the busy streets. He devours beans at the doctor. Henry devours the beans on my plate at restaurants. The boy risks transforming into a bean.
For Henry, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are opportunities to inhale beans, which led me to wonder how a one-year-old stomach holds so many beans. Turns out, it can’t. Following bean consumption, the changing table is a dangerous place to operate. Since you probably desire to retain your previous meal, I will withhold diaper details, but know cleaning his rear requires fearless precision.
Don’t get me wrong. Henry’s bean obsession pleases me. Despite the toxic diapers, I remind myself we are fortunate the child eats well. The option to use beans as a back-up plan when other food fails makes our lives easier. A Ziploc bag full of beans travels with us wherever we go.
When the bean extravaganza unfolded in our home, I decided to visit the local Whole Foods to find new beans to rotate into Henry’s diet. Prior to Henry’s bean obsession, I associated beans with gross, processed canned foods. I have eaten too many beanie weenies. Yet, in the store I noticed beans on display from all over the world, including odd ones like Mung beans, Extra Large Fava beans, Giant Peruvian Lima Beans, and colorful Anasazi beans. The uncooked, organic beans revealed the potential of exploring the legume world.
After my bean conversion in Whole Foods, my inner nerd made it a habit to frequent the Wikipedia bean article. Did you know there are thousands of varieties of beans? More importantly, did you know that soaking beans before cooking removes the sugar molecule that causes flatulence? My new cookbook, Bean by Bean, informed me beans are “the single most concentrated source of plant-based protein in the world.” It’s hard to argue against “the musical fruit.”
One of my goal’s for this year involves serving Henry every bean available in the store. I have not shared this plan with my wife, because I know she will probably suggest I am taking things too far. I don’t know why she would say that. It’s not like I have an obsessive personality or anything.
Whether it is beans, baby wraps or something more serious, I am changing and growing as he changes and grows. The first seventeen months of Henry’s life has opened me to the reality parenthood will transform me in big and small ways. Like any other relationship of depth, it involves two people influencing one another in subtle and obvious ways. I am Henry’s teacher and he is mine.
As a first-time parent, it excites me to think about the ways my child will challenge me to expand my horizons. Who knows what the future holds? I’m guessing more beans.