A spoonful of chocolate helps the medicine go down

What mom? I didn't have any chocolate. Really.

Ah, “Love and Logic,” the parenting protocol based on natural consequences. Where you don’t fight. You don’t negotiate. You don’t even engage in power struggles. You simply allow consequences to occur as they would in real life. Sounds fairly simple. Until it involves the dreaded, delectably delicious cocoa bean.

Seriously, I stumbled into hell on this lesson. My 11 year old son, Levi, was in his school play last week. As a special opening night gift, we gave him one of those ginormous dark chocolate bars that realistically could serve as dessert for a dinner party of 40 people. We’re not usually big fans of food rewards, but we made an exception this time and he was elated.

He carefully gnawed away at it over the week, demonstrating remarkable self control. He never had more than a square at a time, only allowed himself his small portion after meals, and generously shared with all who asked. Everything was going splendidly. Until the other day.

As we were leaving for school, I noticed a hunk of chocolate in his hand. “Not in the morning,” I gently reminded. “O.K.,” he answered. He then proceeded to bite off a chunk of it, his back turned to me, and pretended to return it in its entirety to the fridge. My 
“Love and Logic” voice kicked in. “Ohhhhhhh…,” I softly murmured. “Bad choice.”

Now my children have learned to dread these types of soothing sighs and understated comments about their choices. They know that when they hear those, the other shoe is surely going to drop, even if they can’t predict when, where or how. Levi started back-pedaling immediately. “What?” he challenged, “I put it back. Come on, mom. What did I do?” Like a well scripted actor, I merely repeated the lines Id been rehearsing for all these months. “Not to worry, sweetie.” And off to school we went.

When I got home later that morning, I knew what had to be done. I also knew that given my affinity for the dark, rich indulgence, this was going to be a challenge. But I powered on, opening the fridge and directly confronting the thick, Belgian, beauty, stoically staring back at me with those wide, innocent squares, and sweetly alluring scent. I cradled it into my arms, my heart filled with as much sorrow as Abraham must have felt on Mount Moriah as he prepared to sacrifice his beloved Isaac. “No,” I lamented as I dropped the edible delicacy unceremoniously into the garbage can. There was no turning back.

No one ever said motherhood was going to be easy. But I never imagined It would test me like this. One can only hope that lessons of this depth will need only to be learned once.

Wii Are Not Fat!

Our Wii insists that we’re overweight and chastises us for eating too much. I’m not sure what to do about it. My 8-year-old son is developing a body image complex.

We got this Wii last week. We’re not typically into the whole video game thing. But this is actually a fun way for the family to spend time together. We do yoga, golf, play tennis. We even try our hands at various (mostly impossible) balancing games. But here’s the problem: At the beginning of each session the Wii asks you to take a “body test.” It weighs you and measures your ability to stay centered and calculates your “Wii age.” The first time I did it I was like 54 (which depressed the hell out of me since I’m more than a decade younger). I was only buoyed by the fact that my 42-year-old husband first ended up with a reading of 62. Ha!

Anyway, once you work out every day and get the hang of it, your age goes down rather dramatically and you feel a whole lot less defeated by the damn thing. It also weighs you and if you haven’t lost any weight since your last session, it asks you all kinds of annoying questions like, “Why do you think you’ve gained weight? Are you eating at night?” It’s irritating to say the least. But I can handle the vexing probes. It’s my 8-year-old son who is developing a body image complex.

“Mom, I haven’t lost a single pound,” he laments. “What am I going to do?”

“Levi,” I answer, trying not to sound alarmed by his anorexic demeanor. “You are 8-years-old and as skinny as a rail. You are not supposed to lose weight. In fact, your job is to eat healthy and actually gain weight as you grow.”

“But the Wii says I should watch my calories and make sure to avoid rich desserts. Mom, I am soooooo fat!”

OK, now I’m officially panicked. Visions of 8-year-old bulimia dance in my head. “Don’t act distraught,” I tell myself. Maybe he’s just trying to get attention. As a previous anorexic myself, I shudder at the thought that somehow I’ve genetically passed my fat phobia on to my son. I make a note to call the “talking doctor” and set up an appointment ASAP.

But then it hits me – like a gift from the heavens. I’ll admit it’s devious, maybe even conniving. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

“Well, then I guess you wont be wanting any of these,” I announce matter-of-factly, as I dangle a bag of triple chocolate Tammy Co cupcakes under his nose.

Suddenly he is my son again. The lure of decadence has freed him from his dieting frenzy. He grabs the bag and dives into the cupcakes unabashedly. Soon he is blissfully covered in velvety chocolate swirls.

“Mom,” he looks up at me with wide-eyed elation, “These are amaaaaazing!”

I smile. “So are you, my sweet. So are you.”