Obesity and the American obsession with “food”.

I know I am just cribbing my own comment posted on Babble, but I thought it merited being posted here. The question of obesity and the American obsession with food is something I cannot get over. In this case, Bloomberg, our mayor, feels that banning super sized sodas will cure obesity. Although, I agree with comments on Babble that say this is not the solution, I do not agree with the why. Our nation’s obesity does not derive from the consumption of a particular product or the lack of self control, but a fundamentally flawed approach to food.

Here is the link to the story/post: http://blogs.babble.com/babble-voices/good-enough-is-perfect-rene-syler/2012/06/01/the-slippery-sugary-slope/

And here is my comment for what it’s worth. I could say much more, but this sums it up:

“I find the collective American obsession with food fascinating. It is the only country on earth with such a sick and twisted relationship with food. Diets. Low this low that. Ban this ban that. Women (and worse young girls) who feel the need to poke at food with a look of disgust on their face as if it was their worst enemy. So many reasons for this perverse way of relating to and consuming food, but first and foremost is the fact that we are never humble enough as a nation to look beyond our borders to see how other cultures relate to food. Food is about family, it is about gathering around a table convivially, cooking a meal and eating it together, spending time together and talking to each other face-to-face. The health aspect is a fortuitous consequence that works better in some cultures than others, but regardless it is secondary to what food is about even in countries where it is abundant. When children grow up in a culture that relates to the food on the social and not biological level it makes them happier and healthier. The kicker is that we are one of the most multicultural nations in the word – with the best of the world cultures to draw from at our finger tips – and we can’t even be bothered. Sad really.

And to the point about prohibition, it still very much exists in this country. The absurd law that makes alcohol illegal for those under the age of 21 makes it all the more desirable for the most gullible, easily influenced and immature demographics. They can’t have it and unlike in other cultures it is not part of a controlled and pleasant communal activity such as “a glass of wine with your dinner”, it is just forbidden because no one (just like with food) knows how to integrate it culturally as something to be enjoyed and not abused – and that is why it is a problem in this country and not in others. But that is a whole other post…”


Rock & Roll Parenthood.

I watched my oldest son flick through the pages of the display iPad in the Nature’s Bioluminescence exhibit at the Museum of Natural History (aka the dinosaur bone museum) and watched his eyes twitch from icon to icon and his finger flit over this or that button before pressing it. And in that rare moment of silence, my mind drifted.

He turns four this week and I just cannot get over the fact that this little man is my kid. I could tell you that he is smart as a whip and a handsome devil to boot, but I know that already so I won’t bore you with the details. I just take the greatest pleasure in watching when he is interacting with something or someone and see those little pieces of me (and my wife, of course) that are reflected in those big brown eyes. You have to understand that I am slowly getting the hang of this parenting thing or rather I am OK with the fact that it is beyond my control and yet I have to put all my brawn, brains and heart into it in an attempt to budge it this way or that in a direction that is hopefully the better path for my kids. It usually, though, feels like Sisyphus and I actually have decided to adopt him as my parenthood mascot – my patron saint of Parenthood.

With my oldest son almost four and my youngest almost 9 months, I still have an eternity to go before earning my veteran parent benefits. There is still plenty of watching that boulder roll back down the hill and trudging back down the hill to push it right back up. And it’s draining.

Two things comfort me and transform the trudge into a little more of a skip in my step. The first is that I see plenty of other kids throwing tantrums at the supermarket and schadenfreude is the best therapy for parents – bar none. The second is the deception created by those moments – often just a split second – where your kids do something so normal and yet so superlative that you turn into silly putty and slide right back down that hill. A smile, a song where all the words are wrong, an unexpected hug, a sincere I’m sorry, replicating something taught without prompting, a delighted laugh, you know what I’m talking about. It gets you every time and is worth all the schlepping that is parenthood. Call me a sucker for punishment, but it’s every bit worth it pushing that rock day in and day out with a skip in my step.

Very, very better latte. Per favore!

For the past 100 years in a land not so far away (it’s actually a bedroom), a little boy (I know… you’re wondering how he stays so young!) shows up at the foot of his parent’s bed (they look every bit a hundred years old) and at the top of his lungs says:”I want very very better latte, per favore!” The latte he is referring to is not the Starbucks kind, but simply “milk” in Italian. Every day for the past century his parent’s have slept with one eye and ear open dreading the moment. They’ve tried everything to break the spell. Pleaded, threatened, ignored, hidden, cried even – to no avail. Every morning at around 5am, rain or shine, much like a Swiss cuckoo clock, the boy comes and makes his proclamation. It is repeated several times and more. Even the neighbors must hear and fear it since no village posse bearing pitchforks and torches has ever descended upon the household seeking to purge this scourge. I know this tale seems fictitious, but I assure you it is something that neither Tolkien nor Lewis nor Jordan nor Goodkind nor Eddings or any of the other master bards could conjure from the deepest recesses of their brilliant imagination. Such is the fantastical reality known to some of us as Parenthood.

Mother’s Day a New York Perspective

(Source: The New Yorker – Cover by: Chris Ware)

Just got this issue in the mail today and I had to smile… great wit. My gift to all of you awesome mom’s out there (albeit this is more akin to ripping out some of the neighbor’s prized roses and pretending I grew them myself…). I know I’m early, but shouldn’t it be a daily recurrence? Happy Mother’s Day!

What’s a travel agency Daddy?

That’s a question I envision my sons asking me in a few years. And yet, there I was staring back at the nice old lady with my mouth in a half opened grimace searching for words. She had just asked me the simplest of questions: “Where is the nearest travel agency?”

I am so used to reacting automatically to questions for directions that my body was slightly turned and finger raised, ready to point out the North, South, East and West of it to this poor frightened lost tourist in the big bad city.

I was at a loss, thinking to myself “Aren’t they extinct?”, but quickly recovered and asked what she needed a travel agency for since there were very few still around. She wanted to visit family in D.C. and was looking to book a flight. Someone told her to look online and she frankly didn’t know where that was so she started walking around asking people.

Granted this seems an extreme case in our über-connected world, but this lady was seriously walking around looking for a travel agency. I vaguely remembered seeing a Liberty Travel somewhere in the neighborhood, but I did not want her to keep wandering aimlessly until she found the guy who said “Sure lady! My cousin has a travel agency…” This is New York after all. So out came the iPhone and I showed her that there was one fairly close by and sent her on her way.

I stared at my phone before slipping it back into my pocket and as I walked on I got to thinking that indeed technology is a wonderful thing to have at your fingertips. With a few clicks this woman would have booked her flight and printed her tickets. Then I thought how terribly helpless someone like that feels. It is not, obviously life threatening, but it is still something we take for granted and yet for some (or maybe many) is a real daily hurdle. I will even guess that with the exponential advancement of technology in the last 20 years doesn’t help either, but wasn’t that the case in prior decades? I read that the iPad is helping Alzheimer’s patients which is incredible and yet this lady was unable to do the simplest of tasks like buy a ticket. I guess it is an inevitable technological limbo that many of us will pass into as “our” technologies become outdated and we find daily amenities out of reach – good thing I’ll be able to call my kids to help me out (if cell phones and Skype still exist). I’m still getting over the fact that she was actually looking for a travel agency – me – the jaded New Yorker.

The Brother P-Touch endures play date after play date

Since putting up labels in the nursery/playroom, two things have happened that have tested my nerves and probably the labels’ nerves as well (they might have feelings too, you know!). The first is my older son’s obsession with the Alphabet and spelling has intensified. “That’s great! What are you complaining about!” you might be thinking. Well you try to carry on a conversation or train of thought with a toddler shouting “Look Daddy, t as in table!” “Look Mommy, z as in zebra!” non-stop for hour and hours and hours. Of course the labels are no exception and they can’t even leave the room – they’re just stuck their helpless. “Daddy? Look! T-R-U-C-K… truck!”

The second is the numerous play dates that have suddenly become part of my life. As you may know, I am very OCD about things and order is something that is a pillar – nay – the very foundation upon which I am built as a person. Without order, chaos takes over and that I start to lose control myself. You can say that parenthood certainly has tested me to the core and I am only a few years in.

So back to the poor labels that not only have to take my son’s abuse, but they also have to take it from perfect strangers who (and I am an eye witness) deliberately subject them to torture. They have taken it very well and must say that aside from one particularly fearsome attack with scissors that did not go well for the targeted label and underlying woodwork the labels I stuck in the playroom are still standing and despite ongoing wear and tear have lived up to the Brother P-Touch reputation of durability.

The next project will be beach gear as Spring arrives and Summer follows. It will be interesting to see how the labels hold up against the heat, humidity and sand of the beach!

NB: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. All opinions expressed are my own.

Enjoy the silence…

I know. Depeche Mode wrote that about teen angst relationship stuff, but here I am past midnight enjoying it – immensely. I have not been able to sit down for two seconds to write anything down in the past few months – not even by locking myself in the bathroom (that actually makes it worse because the banging is even more nerve racking). Sure, I was warned, but this is something else. I don’t mind the having to change diapers again for the little one or the loads of laundry due to the tail end of potting training for the older one. I can handle the “stop touching your brother” and “don’t give that to him he will choke… and stop laughing it’s not funny!” or “how many times do I have to tell you not to (fill in the blank with pretty much anything a toddler could do)!” and my favorite from the adults “do you know what YOUR son did?!” I can take all of that because somehow I expected it from hearing other parents and from watching lots and lots of Bill Cosby. What I cannot take is the incessant cacophony of screaming and crying and yelling and singing (although closer to screaming) and the “daaaaaady can you (fill in the blank with anything)?!”

I used to hear myself think. Even after my first son was born. There were moments in which I could contemplate and knit my brow while reading, surfing the net or just thinking. I miss it terribly. I crave it. I dare say I need it!

I’ve been reduced to a bumbling fool by a 6 month old and a 3.5 year old.

I envy Homer Simpson.

OK. Back to enjoying the silence.