He's like the Hulk, only small and brown and cute

The other night we had homemade pasta, handcrafted with love by Renee. Our community eats lunch and dinner together every weekday, and she has become a master of that fine craft of preparing food for a large group of people who may or may not have other people drop in on them unexpectedly. (On this particular night, three extra people dropped in to eat with us: an American Jewish hippie kid who has stayed with us before, a girl who is doing Forest Defense and was on a break, and a Deadhead.)

Our usual way of serving food is to put it in the open window/counter that joins the kitchen to the dining room. I was standing in line there with my young son, the Leaf Baby, ready to do a one-handed mom stunt, serving myself food while holding him in the other arm. This has worked so far.

I forgot, however, that I gave birth to a long-armed baby with the strength of an eight-year-old and the dexterity of an ape. As I was walking away with my plate of food he grabbed a HUGE handful of pasta and clutched it to his face. As I tried to pull him away from the pasta, out reached his other long arm and clutched another handful of pasta, at which point he had ALL of the pasta on my plate clutched in his meatball hands. Elena tried to help me, but Leaf was pulling the pasta towards his mouth, trying with all his might to shove it in.

I'm terribly afraid of kids choking. It's my one paranoia. If any of my kids so much as cough as we're sitting at the table I will LEAP into action, and when I realize that they're not choking I'll sit back with my hand pressed to my poor beating heart.

So here I was, trying to extricate this pasta that my son had in a death grip, while holding a plate with the other hand. I felt like I couldn't even pause to put the plate down, since he would just shove a vat of spaghetti in his mouth. Elena took the plate, and I moved outside with Candace, she holding the baby while I gave a huge effort and pried the noodles out of his little meaty hands. I'm telling you, that baby is stronger than ME. I swear this. I could barely get it away from him. By the time the whole incident was over, I had pesto up to my wrists and Leaf had a garlicky green face from hairline to chin.