Until quite recently I thought the ‘babycino’ was a mythical food concept; like the turducken, cronut or haggis, a dish invented to amuse or horrify but certainly not to prepare or eat. In the many hours we have now spent in cafes in our area during prime ‘toddler’ hours I can confirm both their existence and their prevalence.
We have seen them ordered with pink marshmallows, without pink marshmallows, small, large, medium, extra frothy; but we are still not sure as to what is actually inside those little child, or afternoon yuppie piccolo, sized cups. The lid is always on.
Today we heard a sentence I thought I would never hear; “sit down or you won’t get your babycino”, a mother to her pink-faced, misbehaving toddler. I discretely gasped at the sheer modernity of this phrase but then withdrew my gasp when I saw the little girl immediately de-pink, desist with her arm windmilling and sit obediently. She then received her magical infant ‘cup of Joe’ (sans marshmallow on this occasion) and sat babbling happily about something, presumably ‘that local sporting team and its perpetual under-performance’ or ‘them crooked politicians’.
It made me wonder whether the solitary purpose of the babycino is to generate a desirable item for the infant that can be whipped away at any time, thus creating a means of control; somewhat akin to foreign aid under a cynical government.
Fabricated and arbitrary boundaries, this is a parenting concept that I have long been interested in, and one that I wish to investigate further. ‘Babycino parenting’ as I will now call it, in my view, has merit. We could, for example, forbid Milo from ever wearing orange trousers. One day, years from now as a teenager, he will head out in a sensible chino to his friend Beatrice’s house. Beatrice and he will laugh out loud at Milo’s simple, naive parents as Milo quickly ducks to the bathroom to change out of the chinos his grandma gave him following her visit to the Birkenhead Point outlet stores, and into the orange velour number that Beatrice purchased for him at Marrickville Supre earlier in the week. Meanwhile, neither Beatrice nor Milo is considering how to source crack cocaine.
Or, only adults are allowed to wear Legionnaire Caps. Again, after railing against this heinous happiness impediment throughout adolescence, Milo heads to the skate park around 15. He now has a part-time job, selling organic beetroot at the market, so he has money, and has purchased his own Legionnaire Cap online. Upon arriving at the skate park Milo triumphantly pulls down the back flap which had been rolled up and hidden underneath his helmet as he left the house, smirking at his resourcefulness and his parents’ ignorance. An older boy, Dylan, sidles up to Milo and tells him he is looking for a bagman to help out on a job he and Joaquin are pulling on the weekend, cash payment. Milo barely hears him, so delighted in the freedom he feels as his flap flitters in the breeze. He rolls away from Dylan into the half-pipe, and onward to his position as Chief Justice of the Australian High Court.
My house was awash with arbitrary parenting when we were growing up. We, the children, ate cheap mayonnaise while my father had a special jar of ‘Whole Egg’ which sat on the shelf above ours, taunting us. In what I describe as an ‘accidentally Kosher’ boundary, we were not allowed meat and cheese on the same sandwich, just to keep us on our toes. Also, no bubble, chewing or gum of any kind. My mum would seize the gum out of my rugby league trading card packets and eat that putrid, pink, plank of synthesized imitation gum in front of me, just to let me know she meant business.
And didn’t my brother and I enjoy chewing contraband grape flavoured Hubba Bubba behind the bike racks while the other kids smoked weed out of modified Orchy juice bottles? And don’t I, to this day, revel in slathering whole egg mayonnaise all over my ham and cheese toasties?
Right, so that’s Babycino Parenting™ then, consider it trademarked.
Over the weekend Milo really struggled with two new teeth pushing their way through his top gum, numbers 5 and 6. To demonstrate to him the overwhelming upside of having teeth, on Saturday night we barbecued for him his first lamb cutlet. Not surprisingly a great success.
As you can see below there is nothing learned about grasping the natural handle that a cutlet offers, and tearing the meat asunder with reckless abandon. It is primal instinct.
The upside of teeth
Today was a beautiful mid-winter day in Sydney so we headed to the park for most of the afternoon. This is parenting at its best. I rolled out a picnic rug, wound Milo up and let him go. Milo utilised his new express paced, head down, one knee up, bellowing crawling style to cover large distances. With nothing but cigarette butts to worry about I let him crawl far into the distance, chasing other people’s dogs and eventually a pair of pigeons which stayed just out of his reach for at least 10 minutes.
Free-range Milo (note Horcrux still in left hand)
The hunt begins
By the time Kuepps returned home Milo had only just woken from his afternoon nap, but before long he was looking tired again, such was his exertion in pursuit of the pigeons. We all had dinner together and were soon ready for bed.
- Number of babycinos ordered – 0
- Ham and cheese sandwiches eaten – 2
- Minutes spent researching local ice sculpting schools – 0
- Hours spent engaged in the ancient art of topiary – 0