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Lev turned 6 months old the other day, and on his birthday he earned real money for his first modeling gig. Our tiny Zoolander also ate fruit food for the first time that day — a banana.
This seemed like a major life milestone — our son eating real food — and I thought he was a total natural at it. He lunged his head towards the spoon with manic intensity and gobbled up every bite.
Our pediatrician had warned us to start with green foods — broccoli, peas, string beans — because they don’t taste as good — and slowly move towards foods like sweet potato, and save bananas for last, lest we give Lev a sweet tooth and he might never want to eat vegetables.
But we didn’t listen and alas, a few days later, when we tried to feed him carrots, he hated them and made a face like he had just eaten dog poo. So it’s not that he likes food, he’s just bananas.
Anyway, as far as life milestones go, eating solid food pales in comparison to awakening to one’s own sexuality. But tonight after I bathed Lev and massaged him with coconut oil — his evening bedtime ritual — I noticed that for the first time, he was grabbing his rod and tackle.
I called Michelle into the bedroom to see, thinking maybe he would get shy and self-conscious about it, but Lev just maintained a calm steady grip on his apricot.
Michelle felt he might want some privacy, but he wasn’t doing it in an onanistic way. He wasn’t even doing it like Michael Jackson used to. It was more the way a major league baseball player, or a farmer in Arkansas might casually grab his crotch. No shame at all, just very relaxed, nonchalant and intent on getting the job done.
So it’s not that he likes food, he’s just bananas.
It was a small gesture, one that lasted only about 30 seconds and then I put his diaper on and Lev and I laughed about it and agreed not to talk about the matter any further.
Something in our dynamic had shifted. He was no longer my sweet, innocent baby child. Now, as I read him his bedtime book — (which for some reason happened to be about a baby with two dads, not sure who gave us that book) — the vibe was different.
For one thing, he kept laughing and pounding me on the back really hard, like a bro at a frat party. Then I noticed he was habitually pretending he had a mustache and kind of absent-minded tidying up the imaginary facial hairs with his fingers. Also, at some point, when I tried to put the book down, he slapped me across the face, really hard.
Now you can ascribe all this to normal pre-toddler behavior, but what startled me was when I leaned in to kiss him good night I noticed he was wearing Axe Body Spray. I asked Michelle and she said she had certainly not approved the purchase, nor was she aware they made cologne for babies. So I just asked him, straight up: Lev, are you wearing Axe Body Spray?
And he said, “Yeah, Pops. What are you staring at, Broham?”
The first time your son calls you ‘broham,’ you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I chose the former, and Lev and both had a good long chuckle about it, and agreed to just be bros from now on. Because Lev may not like veggies. But he sure loves his garbanzos.
Dimitri Ehrlich is a multi-platinum selling songwriter and the author of 2 books. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, and Interview Magazine, where he served as music editor for many years.