Weaning Charly- by Juan M.S.

Little Charlie was his parents’ pride and joy. He was an adorable son, loving and playful, and he’d given many happy moments to his parents. However, there was a flaw in his conduct that was starting to worry them: Charlie wouldn’t give up suckling on a feeding bottle. Charlie was their first son, so they didn’t have any experience in the matter, and they’d thought that this anomaly would eventually disappear by itself, but little did they know about Charlie’s determination when it came to sucking on a feeding bottle. He spent at least an hour a day with the bottle in his mouth and, no matter what they did, he didn’t seem willing to ever exchange it for a glass.

At first, his parents, who upheld the Polish ageless customs and traditions, tried to weaned him on vodka and steak tartare, but it ended up being counterproductive. Charlie showed a little of reluctance when they explained to him that a cow had been minced and put directly in front of him to be eaten. He thought of the paradox that he was encouraged to wash himself every day and take care of his hygiene, because in that way, thus his parents said, he’d live longer and healthier. But now the cow, which had been washed and kept in a hygienic state, had ended up chopped and put into a small dish in front of him, ready to be eaten. He then thought that, were humans to develop a taste for raw Little Charlies, he prefered to be non-hygienic so people would think twice before having a bite of his tender flesh while he walked in the street. Thus from that day he refused to be washed and, whenever he could, he’d wallow in mud in the same fashion pigs do, so he was at least sure that he wouldn’t be eaten by Muslims and Jews. The vodka, however, he didn’t refuse, so little Charlie would be seen from that day on tumbling around the house, whenever he wasn’t sucking from his feeding bottle. Eventually his parents could convince their son that a cow could yield ten times more flesh than him, so his flesh wasn’t urgently needed, and that, in a civilized country like Poland, no one would be so impolite as to bite him in the street without his permission. Also they hid all the bottles of vodka from him and whenever he asked for one they told him that it was politically incorrect to drink vodka now that Russia had invaded Crimea, which he understood perfectly.

One day Little Charlie met Berta, the neighbors’ daughter. His parents then took him every afternoon to meet her; they were hopeful they would weaned him on her, but this proved to be even more counterproductive. Berta wasn’t the kind of girl that likes to compete with a feeding bottle and when she heard of it, she was shocked. She told Charlie that it was repugnant in someone of his age to go on sucking from a feeding bottle. She tried to induce him to stop doing it by tempting him with other equivalent activities. She explained to him that his sucking habit had been already explained by Freud and that it was identified as oral anxiety; therefore he could easily made up for the bottle with other things. Charlie was already thinking of the innumerous possibilities when Berta stuck her finger in his mouth. Charlie instinctively started sucking at it and went on for minutes; he found it so delightful that Berta would’ve probably lost her finger had she not exchanged it for other parts of her body.

However, Little Charlie didn’t seem to give up on the bottle; whenever he was with Berta, he was OK, but when she wasn’t around, he’d actually suck on his bottle even more than before. It seemed that Berta had actually exacerbated his oral anxiety instead soothing it. His parents didn’t want to go into details when Charlie told them about Berta’s genius idea; they just looked at each other with total resignation: now Charlie was addicted to the bottle and to Berta. They went and told everything to Berta’s parents: Charlie’s problem and Berta’s unconventional treatment, and Berta’s parents were shocked when they heard that Charlie still sucked on a feeding bottle. From that day on, Charlie would go to Berta’s by himself because Charlie’s parents were too ashamed of themselves for not having been able to wean Charlie from his childish habit. From that day on they swore not to tell anyone else about it.

As the months passed by, Little Charlie seemed to be stuck in his ways and his parents spent sleepless nights trying to find a solution to their little darling’s problem. They struggled with their worries for long until they decided to try something that, although it didn’t change anything, might help to control Charlie’s milk intake. Up to now, Charlie’s bottle was blue and it didn’t allow to see its content. So they decided to buy Charlie a transparent bottle, which he liked from the moment he saw it. To his parents’ puzzlement, Charlie’s bottle was always filled with a transparent liquid. Up to that day they hadn’t seen opportune to control what Charlie filled his bottle with, but the fact that the liquid was transparent intrigued them. Their first thought was vodka, but, as traditional Polish people, they thought it inconceivable that someone could drink vodka in another way than by shots, so they dismissed this idea as plainly ridiculous. Then they thought it could be apple vinegar, which is known to be good for stomach aches and other ailments, but they didn’t have that much vinegar in the house and they doubted that Little Charlie bought it by himself. Then they came up with the easiest choice, which was so simple that they couldn’t believe it was true: Charlie had been filling his bottle with water! Yes, simple tap water, directly from their kitchen sink! They grabbed their hairs in deep agitation and cried of relief. During all this time they’d thought Charlie was suckling milk from his bottle; the thought hadn’t even crossed their minds that there could be anything else in a feeding bottle than milk, but there was, and they couldn’t keep their tears from flowing out of emotion. When they’d cried their main worry out, they continued to be puzzled. Why was Charlie drinking so much water? And why didn’t he do it from a glass, like everyone else? So when they’d deliberated about the approach they were going to take on this new problem, they called Charlie.

Charlie was surprised to hear that his parents had thought that he’d been drinking so much milk during all this time. “Come on!” He said, “Did you really believe I’m able to drink five liters of milk per day? I’m not a calf you know!” His parents laughed their embarrassment off. They didn’t know what to say; they’d deceived themselves into believing that their son had been suckling milk, when he actually was sucking water. “But anyway,” they said “Why are you drinking water from a feeding bottle and not from a glass?!” Charlie stared at them with an incredulous look. “Well, you go and try to drink five liters of water a day yourselves and then blame me for trying to find the easiest way! Do you believe I’d be able to drink five liters were it not for the feeding bottle? Then you’re crazy”. “So you mean to say”, uttered his father after a thirty second period of information processing “that the only purpose of the feeding bottle is to help you drink more water? Am I correct here?” he asked with understandable puzzlement. “Well yeah!” answered Charlie “it’s been proven that we can drink more by using a straw or by sucking than by simply gulping liquids from a glass. I personally prefer sucking because straws are for girls.”

His parents’ stupefaction was so great that they needed to take a break just to pinch each other and check whether they were dreaming. Charlie waited till they came back to their senses and then he told them, in an offended tone: “I didn’t know you folks found it weird that I drank from a feeding bottle. You should’ve said something!” “But, but…”mumbled his father “But Charlie! Why in hell five liters a day?!” Again Charlie stared at them as if they were Martians that had just landed on his living room and taken the shape of his parents. “Why folks, don’t you know that five liters of water per day is recommended for a good health?” “wha-wha-what?” was the only legible sound coming from his mother’s mouth; his father had fallen into a state of mental paralysis due to his brain inability to process what he was hearing. In IT terms, his brain had just crashed. “Well yeah, five liters a day! No more or less, I’ve read it online.” “Whe-whe-where?” was the sound achieved with strenuous effort by his mother. “Well, on this blog about natural ways of living folks! Come on, don’t be so backward! It makes you feel lighter and more energetic; you should try it”. “I-I-I’ll-I’ll try it someday Charlie,” said his mother, shoving his father into consciousness “But are you sure five liters a day is not harmful?” “It’s proven” said Charlie “and many people do it.” “Well Charlie!” said his father in an authoritative tone, now seeing clearly through the mirage “Many people jump from a bridge without floating devices, but that doesn’t make it right, does it?” Charlie thought it over for a couple of minutes, his parents staring at him with worry, but with infinite patience in their faces. At last he said “I may have overlooked the fact that this method was created in California, where it may be hotter than here in Poland, so probably reducing the dose to 3 liters a day would do no harm.” “I’m happy you came to your senses, son” said his father grabbing him by the shoulders in the gesture of a father who’s just recovered a lost son. “And I guess,” he went on “you won’t need to drink it from a feeding bottle anymore; if it’s only three liters or let’s say two and a half per day. Because, son, look, the most worrisome thing here is that you’re sucking from a feeding bottle, and you’re already twenty years old.” “You’re right! I hadn’t thought of it like that,” said Charlie. And both parents hugged their little son, their pride and joy, and they asked him to invite his girlfriend over to have a celebration dinner.


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.

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