Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Three Scary Words: "I'm Not Skinny"

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Have you ever heard your child say something alarming? The other day, I witnessed a moment that made me cringe with worry.

My nine-year-old daughter was playing with a friend. They were talking about their different sizes. (My daughter has always been near the 100th percentile for both height and weight, and her friend is on the opposite end of the spectrum.) The word "skinny" came up, and I overheard my daughter say, "I'm not skinny."


I should explain that we have maintained a fairly idealistic and idyllic bubble around our lives. We don't watch much TV. Nary a princesses flounces around our house - in fact, my daughter is somewhat of a "Tom Boy." Even her school, a Waldorf school, is a place where judgment is discouraged and imagination and creativity prevail. So how is she even aware of what skinny is, much less who's skinny and who's not?

My daughter may not be "skinny," but she has a lovely form. She is athletic - strong and muscular. (She is an avid gymnast.) Her body is perfectly proportional, and absolutely beautiful.

When she said the words, "I'm not skinny," they weren't laced with shame. She simply made the statement matter-of-factly. So I was holding out hope that her words were more observation than self-depreciation. I asked her later if she didn't think she was skinny, what did she think she was? She replied, "Normal."


I added, "And beautiful." She smiled. And so did I.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Lone Voice on Times-PicayuneGate

Today I'm going off topic. No kid-related or mom-related issues. I know I'm risking alienating my small audience with what I'm about to say, but I mean for this blog to be honest and current. Times-PicayuneGate certainly qualifies as current. And I feel compelled to be honest about my feelings on the subject.

So here they are in all their honest glory: I don't get it.

While the masses are crying out against the injustice of the Reviled Downsizing, I'm left shaking my head. What do people expect? It seems pretty clear to me that the world is evolving into a digital creation. Several major newspapers have already shifted focus to their online offerings. What has surprised me most about the TP's move is how progressive it is!

As I've come to expect from my beloved NOLA, the city is staunchly opposed to change. And to top it all off, the residents have taken it personally. Chris Rose is leading the pack with his outrage and indignation. The paper itself is overrun daily with Op/Eds on the subject. The People can't believe the Times-Picayune would do this to them! But I'm simply baffled. Does everyone expect the Times-Picayune to operate at a loss? Even if they were able to jack up their prices and get the public to pay them, should the company ignore the trajectory of the publishing industry? Let's face it, the Internet is the future.

Ok, yes, Advance Publications was a bit callous about how they handled all the layoffs. To blindside their employees and not give them any time to plan or digest what was going down, that's pretty awful. And I could not agree more with those who say the nola.com is a sad excuse for a website. Here I definitely I see eye to eye with New Orleanians. If Advance wanted to shift its focus to its online product, it should have made their website into something awesome before pulling the trigger on the rest of their plan.

I've heard that when everyone else sees things differently than you do, it's wise to take a closer look at yourself. Maybe I am crazy, but it doesn't feel that way. It feels like the rest of the world is! (Yes, I'm aware that that's exactly what a crazy person would say.) I can't help but feel bewildered. 

*Sigh* As usual, I'm the misfit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Great Dessert Debate

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Is anyone else finding it difficult to figure out this whole dessert thing?

If your children are anything like mine, they ask for dessert every day, at every given opportunity. In other words, after breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner - oh, I almost forgot about those random requests that don't seem to be attached to any particular meal. "Dessert fishing," if you will. I know these pleas are really nothing more than a form of pushing boundaries. But it never ceases to amaze me how much energy my children put into seeking out unhealthy food.

Here's one rule of thumb I've heard: Parents are in charge of which food is served, children are in charge of how much of it they eat.

Sounds simple enough, but what about the idea of making foods so taboo that they become irresistible? Let me give you an example. My childhood was pretty much devoid of regular dessert offerings. Don't get me wrong - I had my share of treats. But dessert just wasn't a regular feature in my house. I'd visit my friends' houses, and inevitably, they'd have a candy stash in their kitchen or ice cream chillin' in the freezer. And what did I do? I pigged out! I couldn't get enough of those little temptations. Sadly, I can't say I've evolved much from those early days.

This personal experience only  feeds my confusion. "They" say food is supposed to be neutral. But for me, dessert is rife with exotic mystery and worse: emotion.

To this day I have self-control issues with sweets. As you might imagine, one of my biggest fears is passing along my obsession with junk food to my children. So I've tried to defer to my husband in these matters. He grew up in a house where dessert was offered every single night after dinner. And it wasn't pseudo-dessert either (i.e., fruit). It was the real deal - pound cake with whipped cream, chocolate pudding, strawberry pie. You get the idea. Anyway, the point is, my husband doesn't care much for sweets. Heck, on the rare occasion that our pantry is a dessert-desert, he doesn't even miss it. (If I didn't know any better, I'd think he had a secret canteen of hot chocolate stashed somewhere.)

For a while we tried a Dessert Treaty in our house. We decided we would offer a treat three times a week. It was up to my daughter to decide when those three occasions took place. Could be any time at all - breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one day or spread out throughout the week. I thought it sounded so wise, brilliant even! But I quickly learned that what was good in theory was a disaster in practice. We were constantly monitoring when we had had dessert last or evaluating what would happen over the weekend if we happened to have a playdate that involved a trip to the snowball stand. Many an argument was had over this blasted subject.

Finally my husband pointed out that my idea wasn't panning out, and I admitted defeat. Since then, for lack of a better plan, we have done what worked so well for my husband. We offer dessert every night after dinner. The portions are pretty small, but just the act of indulging seems to satisfy my children's cravings.

The Great Dessert Debate still rears its ugly head from time to time, like when that darned ice cream truck comes trolling down our street. I still haven't worked out how to comfortably say "no" where dessert is concerned. Given all that I've heard about eating disorders and connecting negative feelings to eating, I REALLY don't want to argue about it! I'm still befuddled by this part - and the rest of it for that matter. My best hope is that my children won't be saddled with my baggage.