She swirls her tongue against the metal utensil. The sticky, crunchy peanut butter coats her tongue. I can hear dry lips smacking together, coats of peanut butter rubbing her tongue. There’s no surprise that she is enjoying it. She’s always loved peanut butter since she was small.

Whenever she bounced in her yellow high chair, she stared at me with wide eyes, anticipating my next move. Her mushy applesauce and lima beans were eaten, the small containers empty. I knew it was time to reward her. The small light brown curls swayed when I made airplane noises.

Even now her dark eyes sparkle, chubby arms and legs shaking vigorously. The small hanging lamp light shines on her partially bald head. She is the star of the show, her messy bib and unkept locks. The bib reads “Mommy’s Special Girl”. I grab a small washcloth and clean the same silver spoon, the one with a floral finish at the end. This is her spoon, she won’t eat peanut butter from anywhere else. A habit I need to teach her to break.

I grab the jar of creamy peanut butter from the fridge and unscrew the light blue lid. I hear a quick pop and I let the spoon dive in. Her eyes travel from left to right, the spoon a snake, luring her into ecstasy. I move my hand like a wave until the spoon touches her small rosy lips.

Smack sounds fill the empty house, a house that only we share now. No father to buy jars of peanut butter at the grocery store. The only burdens are to sleep alone in a queen sized bed and to change the tire on the car by yourself. But your daughter is your focus, a blessing to stare at. Her eyes may remind me of him, but her giggles and gurgles are what keeps me calm.

Her small pink tongue is clean and I grab her waist to hoist her out of the high chair. I pat her back several times. This small fragile back that I can’t clasp hard yet. I look forward to holding her tight, when she has the strength to carry herself, to school, social events, work, a lover’s house. I can’t wait to hoist her mind and heart when she makes big decisions.

But for now I can lift up her special silver spoon and give her a bit of joy every mealtime.

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