Friday, February 12, 2010

Pavlov's Mom

Pavlov. Pretty hard to make it through a psychology class without running into this guy. He was the one who offered poor, impressionable doggies nummy treats just to watch them drool. Then he started ringing a bell during the droolistic ritual, hoping to prove that this would create some kind of mental connection between bells and smells in the dogs, so that either stimulus would activate the slobber response.

Well known fact: Pavlov succeeded. Not so well known fiction: Pavlov first tested his theories on his dieting mother. To help her along, it seems he attempted to associate the utensil-to-mouth reflex with his every childhood cry. I'm here to tell you, his early hypothesis had something to them, because just as it's said that everytime a bell rings, an angel gets his wings; and everytime a baby laughs, a fairy is born;--everytime I put a fork to my lips, a baby burst into tears and requires my immediate attention.

I'm not recommending it as an official weight loss technique, but maybe I should. Get 4 to 6 kids in your house, Monday through Friday, 8 to 6, and your likelyhood of ever consuming calories in peace has decreased by a large percentile. Yesterday, for example, I finally managed to eat my breakfast--a long ago thickened and stickened bowl of oatmeal--at twenty of one in afternoon. By the time I sat down to a Valentine dinner with my husband that evening around seven, my points total for the day was at a grand total of FIVE.

Think of it! The markenting potential is huge! What should I call it? The Mouth Leach Diet? No. Maybe something more original like Restyled By Child or Redeemed by Screams. I can see the tabloids now: "Lose 50 pounds changing diapers!"

But seriously, there are some days--some weeks, infact--that I feel like it's impossible to enjoy a meal or snack without listening to a child whine, scream, or cry. When you're trying to be smart about what you eat, the whole screaming stigma places a lot of negative stress on eating. You're distracted from what you really want to taste and enjoy. You're tempted to rush through what you've carefully chosen to consume.

My current solution? Ix-nay on the multi-task-nay for just a few minutes. Most of the time, I just can't help multi-tasking, and it takes conscious effort NOT to do it, but for just the few minutes it takes me to eat my meal or snack, I try to remove myself from the caterwauling. I put up a babygate or close a door or crank a swing or wind a mobile. And then I tell myself to chew and taste each bite, because chances are good, nobody's going to suffer permanent damage to their psyche if I take five minutes to eat.

Again, returning to the topic of Monday's meeting, sometimes you have to make yourself a priority, because you can't take care of everyone else unless you take care of yourself. I'm bad at this, but I'm working on it. Actually, I practiced on Thursday night when I went out with my husband. We went to an Applebees for dinner, and I had done my homework. I knew already, exactly what I was going to order--a seven ounce sirlion, seasoned red-skinned potatoes, steamed vegetables, and a tall, cold Diet Coke.

Then the hostess walked us to a booth that was sandwiched between a wall and a family with a young baby about 4 months old. Across from our booth was a little two-seater table on which they had placed their carseat and all other baby accoutrements. For the first time in my thirty-one years, I asked for another table. The hostess was very accomodating, and seated us around the next corner at a table with no children in sight.

My sirlion arrived, and with great joie de vivre I lifted the firt morsel to my lips. Somewhere around the corner, a baby cried.

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