Local teen Andy Brown, a senior at Richland High School, was weaned yesterday, no longer requiring the nourishment of his mother’s milk-engorged breasts. The 18-year-old Brown, who has suckled at the warm teat of his mother, Gladys Brown, since birth, will replace her life-giving milk with that of a domestic dairy cow, effective immediately.
For Brown, the weaning is a major step toward independence. “After 18 years of sucking at my mother’s nipple, I am finally ready to become an adult,” he said. “Drinking store-bought, homogenized milk is the first step.”
Brown, who will attend the University of Illinois next fall, took his final taste late last night after coming home from a party. He enjoyed a large piece of chocolate cake and then nestled himself in his mother’s arms, suckling her breast until falling asleep.
“I’ll miss that a lot,” he said. “Chocolatey desserts just won’t be the same without having mom’s warm breast milk to wash it down.”
For Gladys Brown, the last feeding was difficult as well. “I will dearly miss the special warmth and closeness breastfeeding my child provided,” she said. “I will also miss spending hours each night icing down my swollen, horribly distended areolas.”
The proud mother has produced an estimated 9,800 gallons of milk since 1977.
Brown is the first of his friends to stop breastfeeding. “No way I’m getting off mom’s breast just yet,” close friend Dave Evans, 17, said. “College is gonna be a big change next year, and I need that support. If I go to school far away, I’ll have to find a wet nurse.”
Evans hopes to breastfeed until age 25. “By then I’ll probably have a real job and be on my own,” he said. “I guess.”
Brown officially began his post-breastfeeding life this morning, taking his first taste of homogenized cow milk. Pouring a cup of refrigerated, store-bought milk into his breakfast cereal, he detected the difference immediately.
“This milk is gross—it’s cold, watery and bland—nothing like my mother’s warm, rich milk,” Brown said. “It will take some getting used to.”
Despite Brown’s initial dislike of processed cow milk, he does recognize one of its advantages.
“This will make it much easier to drink milk away from home,” he said. “I will no longer need my mother’s nipple to enjoy milk’s wholesome goodness.”
Specifically, Brown plans to take advantage of special portable milk cartons sold at food stores, which his parents will purchase for him and store in the family fridge.
Experts praised Brown’s decision to wean. “Going off breast milk will be a major step toward independence for Andy,” sociologist Lois Winters said. “Next year, when he goes to college, he will learn to seek out milk on his own and perhaps pay for it. It’s part of a growing up process we all go through.”
While the majority of experts agree with Winters, many still question the move. “Brown is making a mistake in weaning, as breast milk is extremely nutritious,” dietitian Charles Strum-mins said. “Not only does it provide children with the right balance of nutrients, but it’s also high in antibodies and encourages better development of the dental arch.”
Strummins added, “It’s also delicious.”
Child psychologist Arthur Hopkins also questioned Brown’s decision. “Andy is simply not ready,” he said. “At 18, children still receive everything they need from their parents. How could a child that age possibly be expected to fend for himself?”