Tag Archives: Parenting

Sugar Squared

Peet's CoffeeSo, I just quit sugar, or, at least I’m trying. I’m completely addicted. I come up with reasons to leave the house on some pointless errand just so I can stop at Starbucks for a medium, decaf soy mocha thingy and a pack of those dark chocolate graham crackers they display next to the cash register. Where have you been my wife says, when I came back 45 minutes after going to drop something off at the post office. Oh, the line was horrendous, and then Steve called on his way home and needed to talk about Julia. All nonsense, and that, apparently, the first sign—concealment. I, similarly, constantly, sneak stuff meant for the kids, things like their Halloween candy and the Jaffa Cakes their Nana sends from England, the kinds of things we keep in a cupboard above the fridge, next to the alcohol and the matches.

A part of me wonders if it’s an OCD thing, but then again it’s not my OCD telling me I’m utterly craving a quarter cup of chocolate chips, or I have to eat three fun-size Twix. If it was the OCD, I’d eat all the Halloween candy, leave a few half-gnawed wrappers and tell my wife we need to call animal control. Blaming it on the children seems a little harsh. Maybe that’s the next step. But, anyway, D-day cometh. I had a check-up last week: blood work, prostate etc., and I have high cholesterol, which is unusual for a hard-core vegetarian trying his hardest most days to qualify as a vegan. What do you call that people ask? Failure’s the obvious response, but I hum and haw and say that technically I’m an ovo-vegan who occasionally eats cheese and dairy. “Failure” such a more appropriate response.

But, anyway back to sugar, and the doctor. I’m not diabetic, but I have the high cholesterol thing, like twice what it should be. If I don’t eat red meat, the next thing on the how to lower your cholesterol list is losing weight. And yes I could shed the odd pound in ten, so not massively overweight, but when I imagine putting a ten-pound weight in my back pocket and carrying it around all day, well, that’s a little awkward. I know people who have gotten help for sugar addiction, as in serious help, not just the go talk to a therapist once a week kind of help. I’m not sure where to put myself on a scale (sorry) from 1 to 10. So, there’s the Starbucks thing, and the Halloween, Easter, Christmas candy thing, but I’m not getting up in the middle of the night, locking myself in the garden shed and scoffing down half a chocolate cake. Then again, the minute I feel any kind of stress, sugar is the go-to, either actual sugar or a plate load of carbs. Ideally, both. Carbs then treat. Carbs then treat. And I shovel them in, especially when stress is easy to find with two kids bouncing around the house and pretending that “listening” is a spectator sport.

So, anyway, I’m trying. This is day two. I’m already cheating—convincing myself that fruit isn’t really sugar cause it’s natural, and dried fruit is definitely not sugar because it’s natural and it’s dried. Case closed. So, how do I feel? Pretty much the same as the day before the day before yesterday. Not entirely surprising, really. Especially when I started the day with a decaf mocha thingy (but from Peet’s and with almond milk not soy) as a way of easing into it. More to follow though my four year old just asked when the Easter Bunny’s coming and a little shiver went up the old spine.

Not About the Election

So this is not going to be about the election. Just to be different. I’m going to write about my four-year-old’s birthday, which was the Saturday after the election. An important day, Saturday, November 12. Certainly to him. Far more important than Tuesday, November 8. As far as he’s concerned a “Trump” is something you do after too many beans or, in his case, almond butter, which goes straight in at one end and out the other in a rectal tympani. He thought it hilarious that the word kept popping up on the radio, and I love the fact that in each case he’s visualizing an air bubble escaping from someone’s backside—he must think that to be the bedrock of our culture.

But, like I said, this not about the election. This is about us driving over the Golden Gate Bridge into Golden Gate Park on a beautiful fall day. About us stopping at Peet’s first for the obvious, packing some snacks, getting an early start so as we come down 101 we see downtown San Fran coming out of the fog, a fog which lifts just as we get rock star parking, because it’s early, because we prepared, all of this a reminder that there are other currencies.

Oh, and we have a dog. Arrived Thursday. Not a post-election knee-jerk move. It’s been in the works for weeks, which is not to dismiss the welcome distraction though the way he casually lifts his leg in order to allow his tongue to get to his balls serves as a constant reminder. He’s a Havanese, Bichon, terrier mix—the dog that is— and came to us via a local shelter. They think he’s about a year old—another remarkable parallel—and spent a lot of time adapting on the streets. It’s hard to imagine him surviving, but there it is, the unfathomable miracles of nature, and now he’s about to get his first romp around Golden Gate Park, not to mention his first trip on a Stow Lake pedal boat, or any boat come to that, unless he was some variant of stowaway. Same for my four-year-old. This his birthday extravaganza—being pedaled around Stow Lake looking at ducks and meandering turtles, crayfish, waterfalls, pagodas, arched bridges…all under dappled sunlight while sipping on a mix of ginger apple juice and water and slipping grapes sliced into quarters into his eager mouth—positively Elysian.

After this, we walk around the island to get to the top of the waterfall, another first, and a thing of beauty in itself, except for the pipe emitting a layer of sewage scum into the middle pool—a timely reminder, but also a reminder that every bucolic scene possesses its own sting. There’s no place to hide from it, but, then again, as with sewage, it’s a thing of our own making. Nobody put forward reforming the electoral college in Obama’s first two years when the Democrats controlled the world. Why reform one of the most antiquated electoral formats in the first world when it’s working for you? I’m not a history professor but as far as I can tell the electoral college survived because of slavery. Even the most rudimentary online search reveals that in 1787 when James Wilson proposed direct national election of a president, James Madison responded that “The right of suffrage was much more diffusive [i.e., extensive] in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.” Meaning, slaves were not allowed to vote, but under an electoral college they counted as part of the state population and, thus, impacted the number of electoral college votes allotted to each state.

But, anyway, I digress. From the wonders of Golden Gate Park back across the bridge, by this time embedded in traffic, but no worries, cause we’re satiated by the wonders of urban nature and we can see all the sailboats. Then, to home, and lunch of hotdogs and beans—more Trump jokes—followed by the requisite singing of Happy Birthday and the vanilla hazelnut chocolate cake from the gluten-free bakery, because he loves a gluten-free cake. This followed by a spot of TV, cause it’s his birthday and an early night. Pretty much the perfect day in a four-year-old’s head when you throw in the new toys and the time spent on the living room floor playing with said new toys while scolding new, adorable dog for treating new toys as chew toys. As I said, perfect. And nothing like Tuesday, though, as I promised, we’re not talking about that.

Halloween in the Pissing Rain

So, finally, a posting from Marin county where we landed in August. I know. It’s been a while. I’m averaging a post every three months, well worth the 200 dollars a year I’m giving to WordPress to host the website. I told myself last year if I’m not posting at least once a month then I’m taking the site down. Well, it’s been a year and I just gave them another 200 dollars with a promise to myself that I’m going to post at least every two weeks. Reverse logic, but I’m thinking I’m going rogue. No more of these attempted polished gems that I’m imagining some editor from the New Yorker seeing and contacting me about after traipsing all over the internet to track me down. “Yes, Mr. Scott, we’re wondering if you have anything longer we might be interested in, oh and by the way I have the names of a couple of agents who would like to talk to you.” Instead, I’m going a bit more punk.

We did Halloween of course. Some ups and downs. I was struggling with the tail-end of a man-cold. Not a cold, but a man-cold, which is an entirely different beast. It’s like comparing a Prairie rattlesnake to the Mojave variety. Only one is deadly. Hence, struggling with the man-cold, I couldn’t smell toffee apples if put under my nose and wrapped in garlic, and Barry White’s been camping in my windpipe for three days. Not at my best, had a long day dealing with 16 year olds who no matter how many times I cough and splutter enquire not after my health and instead concentrate on asking why I’m wearing a neck scarf. So I’m feeling a touch jaded, a touch sorry for myself, and I’m supposed to traipse around Fairfax for two hours sans alcohol. Oh, and it’s raining.

It’s not about you my wife reminds me, who’s dealing with her own head cold (though it’s not a man-cold) and when she says it she’s already in full zombie regalia plus make up so it’s more than usually intimidating. She’d be intimidating dressed as a rose petal, but that’s not the point. The point is that the kids absolutely love it. Of course I’m coming I tell her, but don’t expect me to dress up. Unacceptable response, and ten minutes later she’s got me in a wig and the kind of long down coat that people in Minnesota sleep in. What am I supposed to be I ask. Everybody’s slightly off-center neighbor she tells me. Well then. The kids are eleven and almost four, so right at the optimum ages where it’s not too spooky nor too cheesy, and the rain’s an added bonus. The 11-year-old’s a little sceptical about putting on full zombie attire cause, you know, she’s at that age where she’s beginning to think about what if I see so and so from school, so she insists on wearing her Converse and putting on her favorite sweater under the shredded zombie t-shirt, but she’s sufficiently in the spirit of things. And for about an hour it’s actually fun. I get to stand in the street under my umbrella that’s about the size of a studio apartment and watch the kids scamper in and out of this decorated house and that decorated house while all the other parents look at me a little strangely cause my umbrella’s beyond Marin’s specifications for umbrellas, not to mention more interesting than my costume. In the rain I probably look a lot like their slightly off-center neighbor just, you know, out for a walk. And then it starts to pour. As in torrential. The kids are still loving it, but most of the adults are gently trying to persuade them that going through their candy at home and sorting it into piles according to color or weight is actually the funnest thing about Halloween. I’m certainly up for that, alongside hoping that we got a good haul of Nestle Crunch.

The 11 year old certainly loves that moment of getting home way after bedtime, dumping her candy out on the floor and organizing it. And it was certainly priceless to put my 4-year-old to bed and have him tell me he’d loved getting wet, even when his underpants were wet and that when he got home from school tomorrow he was going to have some Dots and then maybe a Kit-Kat. After that he wasn’t sure, but I was under strict instructions not to touch any of his candy. Okay I said as I closed his bedroom door then promptly went into his stash for a Nestle Crunch followed two minutes later by another one as I waited for the water for my hot toddy.