Wednesday, October 20, 2010

As my son cruises through puberty and becomes a man, I find myself challenged to keep up with his many personalities.

Some days, he is my sweet-faced little boy who comes up with great ideas for fun things for us to do. A couple of weeks ago, he chided me for slacking on leisure reading.
"You need to read more," he said. "When was the last time you read a book?"
I couldn't remember. So he came up with a plan where each night that he is with me, we read from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. He even offered to help me find a book. He was adamant about it, in a role-reversal kind of way. I appreciated his concern and was up for the weekly reading assignment though concerned about my ability to stay awake long enough to read one chapter. (First night, I made it 20 minutes; this week I made it four chapters!)

Last night, I told him it was 8 p.m. and we should start our reading.

"Mom, we're not doing that," he said, as if it was the stupidist idea he'd ever heard.

Suddenly, sweet-faced boy was gone and replaced with pimply surly teenager. And the next chapter begins ...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Say, "Cheese!"

John and I decided to treat ourselves to a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese over some healthy dish we concocted - I can't remember what it was, but I remember the cheese. I looked up the caloric and fat content of a tablespoon of Parmesan and found that it contains only 22 calories and 1.4g fat (.9g saturated fat). We were stoked. Dairy is not normally part of our diet, and I'm lactose intolerant; however, a small amount of Parmesan won't hurt.
On the day of our Parmesan-dusted dinner, I came home to find my beloved mid-preparation for our meal (is there anything sweeter?). Spying what looked like a small pile of dust on a plate, I asked, "What is that?"
Our cheese, he said.
"That's it?!"
That's a tablespoon each, he said.
And here is an area where he and I differ. A tablespoon to him means a level tablespoon, just like your home economics teacher taught you as she scraped the spoon level with the flat side of a butter knife to measure EXACTLY one tablespoon. (Do they teach home ec anymore?)
A tablespoon to me means as much as you can heap onto the spoon without spilling as you go from cheese container to bowl. THAT'S a tablespoon. Half the time, I don't even use a tablespoon; I eyeball it. (One tablespoon of olive oil equals a one-one-thousand count, right?)
I know what you're thinking: "Are you kidding me? Twenty-two calories?"
No, I'm not kidding. I quickly outgrew my super-fast metabolism that carried me through the first 17 years of my skinny life. As soon as adulthood hit, my waist, bust, face and arms started carrying a nice layer of fat that expanded and contracted with every diet and exercise routine I'd pick up between stints of eating Wendy's Big Classics, smoking Marlboros and hitting happy hours. Then I had my son, shed my post-baby weight, became a stay-at-home mom, took gourmet cooking classes and put it right back on. It's been up and down since.
I try to look at frittering away calories like I do frittering away money. That change that accumulates in the bottom of my purse? It can add up to a nice lunch out. Without cheese, sugar and sour-dough rolls smothered in butter, of course.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Eat me.

My job requires me to attend client meetings with the sales teams because I help them get the creative juices going, as well as explain our production process.

Lately, one of our sales managers has started a tradition of bringing cookies to these meetings. Not just store-bought boxed cookies, but some of the best baked goods a buck can buy.

A recent meeting in Sun City was accompanied by a dozen mixed-variety little sweeties from Paradise Bakery. For those of unfamiliar with the chain, PB stores appear in malls and shopping centers and serve sandwiches, bagels, salads and the most delicious cookies that have ever passed these lips. Ever.

For me, these cookies bring a level of noise to meetings that distract me from doing my job. The noise sounds like this: "Eat one. Just one. It would be rude not to. No, you aren't going to eat one, because if you eat one, you'll have to eat another, and then you'll feel sick. Look, she's eating one and she's just chipping away at it, eating it bit by bit. I bet you could break off a piece of her cookie and just eat that. Take just half a cookie and leave the other in the box ..."

It goes on and on.

For some people, a box of cookies on the meeting table is just another tool to be used or discarded during the meeting. They either take a cookie or they don't. No big deal. My son is one of these people. He loves chocolate, but if he's not hungry, he doesn't eat it. And if he wants half a cookie, he'll enjoy half and walk away from the plate.

For others for whom food has an emotional and habitual attachment, a plate of any favorite food comes with a big cartoon bubble that reads "Eat me. Love me. Obsess about me." We can't eat just one cookie - we have to eat all of them, and we never leave crumbs.

It's like any addiction - a moment of euphoria followed by misery and regret. My brain tells me that I need that cookie and I'll feel better if I eat it. ALL of it. Tucked too far away in the file drawers of my mind are the memories of the stomach upset, nasty gas, headaches, self-loathing and just plain over-sugared feeling that cookies bring.

Just the other day, we met with a client in the atrium of a beautiful hotel lobby, which is adorned with water features and high ceilings. The acoustics were terrible (who picked THAT place), but nothing was louder than the designer cookies in a paint can in the middle of the table. "Isn't someone going to OPEN these?!" I kept hearing in my head. My eyes were drawn to them like my boyfriend's are to a TV that's showing a sporting event.

In both meetings, although I was distracted and more than tempted to eat the cookies, I did not. The second time, I was able to resist because no one opened the friggin' can.

I'm a work in progress. I'm pushing to the front of my brain that filing cabinet packed full of memories of how cookies look on my abs. I look forward to the days when I will be able to sit at a table and choose not to eat a cookie or choose to eat half of one and not let it be an obsession. I'm also going to make sure I never go to a client meeting with an empty stomach.