The Little One in the form of an Owl...(but don't tell her I said that!)

February 6, 2012

Swallowing a Chicken and Choking on a few Bones: The highs and Lows of this Weekend (2)

           Yeah, I can be a cool caretaker sometimes, and I'm pretty hip to the whole yoga = bonding, discipline, rhythm, and fitness thing.  Namaste and whatnot. Which works out oooookkkay, except for the fact that Vannesa is convinvced everyone but she is "very, verrrry FAT." See, she thinks this of everyone, get it? So clearly, you know, she is not an objective, you know, person to ask about whether or not I am FAT. Cause. I. Am. Not.  I'm just rocking the whole sloppy mummy look right now, getting into character and whatnot.  ANNNND, I gotta feed this child 3 freakin square meals a day, and unlike my recent previous existence, a bag of crisps and 6 beers does not count as 2 of those meals. ANNNND, I watch cartoons and fall asleep at 930, instead of going out dancing till 6. ANNNND, I maybe sneak a few extra chocolate bars just because I am sick and tired of having to share everything I eat or justify why I should get more. IT'S A LOOK, you get? 

            Wait......right, right,cool caretaker/yoga mom thing. So sometimes the Little One can get a little distracted staring at all my various body parts, in my half dressed, suedo-yoga-no I'm not wearing a bra or underwear-outfits, as it contorts and gracefully flops into various asanas (I am NOT doing one of those mommy blogger things where they use motherhood as a reason to feel insecure about things they were probably always insecure about-my shit's, not tight, but I've always been stretchy and soft and obvi kids have nothing to do with it, so I'm just saying this is different).  This is not helped by the 3 emmaciated mzungu chics that are on the video we follow (again I have always thought they looked emmaciated, but defintely living in Africa highlights the differences between our bodies and mzungu (white) women's bodies) and apparently when living with an 8year old, we lose, they win.  
             So Friday's yoga was going great, GREAT, like Zen-I think I see God-were soooo in tune-great, when the Little One starts in:
            "Eh! But when you a do-ing (bridge pose) it's as if you are plegnant (no american r's yet, too cute.....punk). Your stomach is like this.....your bleasts a like....."(whatevs, not so cute now)
            "Yeah...that's the way it's supposed to look" Okay, yes, zen, breathing, releasing-
            "But why when you a do-ing...(bridge pose) and you come out, yo buttocks a like wata (water) like......and mine a like, mmhmm, like just normal?"
            "Whatever, just do your breathing and leave my body alone. I don't even know what that means." (Like what does that mean? Like water?? Are they??? Grrr....)
            We are now just coming out of Savasana, into "blissful" awareness:
            "But you, you're like fat. You are sooo fat. Your like, I think it's time you had a babbyyyyy. You're fat like for having a babbbyyy. Becuase you have bleasts like what, you have butttooocks. I think you are ready, not so? You better find a husband before you get tooooooo OLD." (Did she need to add the sing-song to get her point across? I think not.)

              But that's okay...I bid my time, and later that day I got that little chicken-eater good

              After we left the clinic, it was late and we were all grumpy with hunger so we dashed off to an idyllic seaside restaurant that is so breathtaking and magical, one shouldn't really be able to "dash off" there on the whim; one should have to solve a riddle from a troll, give an ugly hag a pedicure, at the very least sit in traffic for a good hour. But not these Goddesses, it took us longer to grumble about where to go, than it took to get there and be seated by the water, just in time to see the moon rise and the tide come in.  I enjoyed it but was a bit perturbed about how matter fact Ms. V is about this treat (my mother has broken all semblance of her self-imposed, one big outing per month, rule to take the Little One here willy-nilly, whenever she is too lazy to think of something else.)  So the two of them even know by heart what they are going to order.  For the Little One, this can only mean one thing: CHICKEN.  Lord Almighty, this girl o' mine may seem like a little Owl, but when it comes to food, she is all Chicken Hawk.
            It must be noted that when the Little One first found herself in our home she had the same big spirit I've grown to know and love but in a body that had not seen brighter days; it had seen days of enjoying a cup of tea for dinner; enjoying white porridge for breakfast and lunch both; enjoying the smallest sweet like it was a feast; always enjoying, always appreciating what she had, but never getting much, and most definitely not enough chicken.  So when we first met her, her tiny little tummy could hardly eat a whole leg and thigh before becoming stuffed.  But in just a few months of over-indulgence, our girl has expanded, mostly in height and bright skin, but has also developed an enormous capacity to consume her favorite foods.  She actually gets drunk on them. 
           As I witnessed this 8 year old polish off an entire 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken plus 3 serving of fries in about 40 minutes give or take, before getting up and staggering-and I mean staggering-off to wash her hands, I thought, 'I think we've created a monster'. She would have kept going, but my horror was hard to contain, and I begged to her to cease and desist. Well-actually-I regaled her with horror stories of snotty skinny girls who thought they could eat that way forever until they hit puberty and became obese beyond even..... ME . Ahahaha-I mean, of course, this was all out of concern, you know, for her well-being and whatnot.....hmph.

          We only managed to take some leftovers home because my mother saved hers for me (I'd had the seafood pizza and Ms. V is seriously freaked out by seafood).  Throughout the next day, as we walked around looking for bodas, Ms. V, with eyes glazed over in withdrawal, had to waddle from side to side with her belly pushing out in front of her and her hand on her lower back for support.  She looked like she would give birth any minute to something with feathers and beady eyes; this thought must have occurred to her as well, because at dinner, when I pulled the leftover chicken out and cut it in half, immediately serving a piece to Vannesa, her eyes got large with trepidation and she could all but murmur, "no thank you, I don't eat the bleast, hehe." (yeah right, I thought, I've seen her eat everything but the beak and feet in one sitting) But it looked like someone had choked on her words and was swallowing her fears-hehehe.

         The chicken incident had lead to a very serious discussion with my mother about the need for restraint in the amount of her "favorite foods" we allow her to consume at once; thus far we've been riding on the "she needs to catch up" theory, but seeing the emotional pleasure and compulsive behavior developing in her eating habits led me to offer the contrary theory that we could just be developing a fatty-muck-fat-fat eater who she will be skinny forever (this has often been seen with previously stunted or malnourished children who then get the benefits of unlimited eating). This discussion led to a screaming match after for some inexplicable, irrational, completely unnecessary...okay, anyhow, one thing led to another and my mother reneged her previous rule that the Little One was never to eat ice cream in Dar, leading the Little One to waddle her drooling self over into the ice cream store-which I cancelled at once.  The screaming match was held off until at home, in the car, with Vannesa in the house getting ready for bed. Perhaps my anemia and my mother's high blood pressure caused us both to go for blood-it was messy and may have very likely led to the Pretty. Shitty. Sunday.....

         But what I learnt, as I sobbed and typed and tried to grapple with the enormous DRAMA of my woes, what I learnt as I read another bloggers light words of a dark pain so much more unbearable than anything I was trying to contrive, is that not everything has to be so serious-even when it is;  not everything has to be so real, just because it happened.  

          As for my liquid ass and her chicken fetish, we were both forced into humility by that harshness of anothers perspective.  The truth hurts, but only if you choke on it, so just swallow, breath, and move on.... 



  1. Seems to me that it's time to order a regular portion and that's all she is allowed to eat. Which I guess is what you discussed with your mother. Gorging like that is terribly bad for V's health.

    When my children were small, my mother used to buy them sweets almost every day. I protested, she said it was a grandmother's treat, I pointed out I hadn't been allowed sweets as a child because she didn't approve, and once a week or month would be one thing, but it was too much, too often. She was totally unreasonable, wouldn't stop, I was the meanie if I took them away. So I really sympathise, I know what it's like.

  2. Sorry for the delayed response Z. "Portion" is a very interesting concept in Africa-I actually hadn't thought of such a basic idea until you brought it up. In Uganda, we call starches and carbs "food", because traditionally you stuff yourself silly with them so as not to be hungry for anything else; greens are a delicacy because they are "poor mans" food; meats are a delicacy because they are "rich mans" food and when you do get a chance to eat meat or chicken-you gorge a la American thanksgiving. Of course in Uganda, many people, at least in the cities, no longer go digging all day so such a diet, that has become habituated, is bringing about previously unheard of diseases such as diabetes, gout, and high blood pressure with devastating effects. But so far it is still thought of as socially normal to go out with a couple of gals and consume a KILO or more of roasted pork-sorta like cosmopolitans at a trendy nightclub. Thus, I am taking your advise and the "chicken belly" is no longer, but with such eclectic backgrounds in our home, I believe food will continue to test our different and often mutually inorganic conditioning...time will tell.