Saturday, November 21, 2009
Apple of My Eye
But not my kids. Daughter's weight, for example, hasn't changed in a couple years, and it's a weird weight, 59 pounds. Every time she gets on the scale, exactly 59 pounds. And her hunger is odd. She's not just hungry before meals, that would be too normal. Instead, she stands up after meals full but then immediately announces that she's hungry again. I say, "What? You just told me you were full!" And she says, "I'm full of what I just ate, but now I'm hungry for something else." The strange, twisted labyrinth of the ten-year-old mind - both full and hungry at the same time.
In the immigrant household in which I grew up, there were none of these nuances. We sat and ate with our only desire being how quickly we could escape from our mother's constant food pushing. She stood by the table, waiting for a plate to empty - like a vulture perched overhead - and then swooped in to fill it immediately. This is how a few of my sisters ended up chubby; the skinny sisters ran from the table as her spoon was descending. And it didn't help that dinner was the standard Eastern European Jewish diet: anything made out of rendered fat, or out of animal parts that we weren't sure were actually edible.
There was no eating after dinner was done. Mom shut down the kitchen, like it was a store. And anyway, being an immigrant, she didn't understand the concept of desserts. In her small town in Eastern Europe there were no such fancy concepts as "desserts." You ate or you starved, nothing in between. If she was feeling extravagant, fine, we could have an apple. Wildly extravagant? Fine, she'd bake some apples.
So Daughter finishes another meal tonight, announces that she's full. Stands up. Walks over to me a second later and tells me she's hungry. What can she eat? I don't even try to offer her more of our dinner. I say, "Baked apples?"