Saturday, November 21, 2009

Apple of My Eye

My daughter is very thin. People look at from Husband to me and back again and then declare without any qualms that she gets her thinness from Husband.  Apparently, my body is teeming at its restraints, just waiting for me to overeat one day at which point it will suddenly bulge out and I'll be wearing a wardrobe of circus tents.  When I was fat I used to go to Weight Watchers - twelve years in a row without ever achieving Lifetime Member status - and the leader would say, "You didn't gain it in a month, you're not going to lose it in a month!"  But she didn't know me.  I did gain my weight in a month, each time.

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?"


  1. This post is ripe (no pun intended re. the baked apples!) for discussions of eating habits and where we get them. My grandmother (an Eastern European immigrant) was stick thin and had trouble finishing a single cookie; my mother is pleasantly plump and loves to indulge in all things sweet and salty. Perhaps a product of not being allowed to indulge in childhood?

    Enjoyed your post. Food for thought!

  2. You're right, Kristin. We're always eating, or not eating, in reaction to someone and family is a natural!

  3. Makes me wonder how much genetics play in this and how much is like Kristen said comes from not having the luxury to indulge on sweets.

  4. vera the great Loves it Apple of my eye keep on writing....

  5. This is a lovely essay. I enjoy how you work in the themes of family, fruit and the full/empty pattern repeating itself endlessly. Looking forward to reading more of your musings.

  6. Thanks guys. This definitely makes me think about how much my mother used to diet when I was a kid. And she starved during the war. Weird, really!