Smile Tips for All Parts of Life from a Mom, Wife, and Dentist

September 19, 2015

Food, Glorious Food!

I've wrangled with the "freshman fifteen" at least twice, once was back in college and more recently towards the end of my first year of breastfeeding. Following the stretch of an everything nauseous pregnancy with my son Max, that last round of weight gain was indeed more savory than the first. Nevertheless, I've justified both contests as necessary sacrifices and with the return of balanced meals and long walks with Max in his stroller, I actually thought I'd finally tamed the "Beastly Bulge."  That was before I entered the gates of Toddlerville, where refined carbohydrates are plenty and treadmills sit just over the horizon.

In our new habitat, food is not just abundant but well worth the discussion for any budding linguist.  Every piece of sugar has immense caloric value and is stock-full of what seems like infinite vocabulary words.  This yummy nutritional fact is an especially tasty treat for Mommy to introduce Max to our very dense English lexicon.  The super bright colors of the rainbow are not only found in assorted fruit varieties, but also available in chocolate shelled jewels where the wild animals of the safari thrive in cinnamon as well as vanilla flavored kingdoms.  Cookies and cupcakes and ice cream, oh my!

Most distinct to Toddlerville however, is not the marvelous mounds of sweets but that their consumption is offset by a super-fast toddler metabolism.  In the land of never ever go hungry, snacking between meals is not just encouraged but favorable due to the petite-sized stomachs and appetites of the natives. Only in a fantasy could you find the values of the Food Pyramid inverted to satisfy the sweet tooth of a child's palate.

As I struggle with the reality of my slowed mommy metabolism, I recall the plots of Fairy Tales written about the ever craved ingredient where its ravenous consumption has severe consequences.  Goldilocks invades the home of three bears and Hansel and Gretel enter the witch's house to satiate their hunger.  However, it is to their close demise that the important lessons of moderation and temptation are learned. Neurological studies show that our keen sense of smell and taste is linked to memory.  We are conditioned early on to enjoy the sweetness of our childhoods and the words that describe its associations with both good and evil are safely secured in our fondest memories.

Sugar is both friend and foe.  In order to maintain a healthy weight, I had to learn how not to eat and as I teach Max the importance of proper nourishment, I am also giving him the language to enrich his travels.  However, I've had to accept that I'm just a visitor in Candyland, not a resident or a casted regular but a conscientious observer for whom the rules of the Real World still apply.

September 7, 2015

Mix and Match

"Beware of the Terrible Twos!"  The flashing lights of caution couldn't brace me for the Ides of 
Max: the Tyrant Toddler.  I've had to channel my inner diplomatic genius just to calm outrageous demands for candy breakfast, bottomless bottles of bubbles and mismatched socks under winter boots for summer walks. However, even with a background in International Policy, my patience is no match for Max's strategic practice of "Serblish" where he rallies between English and Serbian in a super-confusing game, challenging Mommy's calls with brutal commands and one-sided negotiations.

Before Max's interchangeable play of "No want it!" and its clean version "Hoće to!" push me to my breaking point, I've decided to exercise a few "Jedi Mind Tricks" of my own.   Perhaps, my Mommy Advantage can help me avoid conflict and earn more wins than losses.  The U.S. Open has arrived just in time to provide a much needed tutorial on diplomacy from the competitive stage.

Modern peacekeeping agendas are not only pursued at the United Nations but desired at many a kitchen tables, especially when it comes to reasoning with a toddler about the breakfast menu. While Max's bold orders of "candy, chupa and čoko" are dictated with confidence and ease, it is clear that his negotiating skills require some practice and perhaps even the conditioning of a tennis pro.  Like many aspiring champions, Max is faced with the task of minimizing his unforced errors and maintaining the favorable cheer of the crowd.
After reviewing the plays of tennis greats Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, representing Team USA and Team Serbia respectively, I've proposed a few tactics to help Max and Mommy reach mealtime goals.  Stacked in my favor, the course of action follows that Max must be able to work within the framework of a team where Mommy not only directs the plays, but calls the time outs and drafts all opening and closing remarks.
Finally, after long hot tempered volleys, muscle memory will allow Max to properly articulate his gratitude.  Among many others, this talent has been gracefully demonstrated by Williams throughout her career, best exhibited when she gave her 2015 French Open Championship Speech à propos in the langauge of the host nation.  In the same swing, Djokovic without exception, always gives respectful praise to his opponents no matter how grand the stage.
Only a great athlete can truly revolutionize the game and Max has quite a few matches to serve before he can dictate change on Centre Court.  In the meantime, while Daddy handles his training, Mommy aims to prepare him for his diplomatic position both on and off of the court.  We know that it will take more than a full serving of the Breakfast of Champions for Max to argue both sides of the net and until we reach a tiebreak we'll have to rely on the timeless treaty, "Mommy said so!"

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