Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's A Vulnerable Time

Most nights I lie down in Hank's room for a few minutes when he goes to bed. This is a nice time in many ways, as I get to stop moving for the first time in a while and Hank shares what's on his mind. (Last night's tidbits were, "Mom, I know what snot is for and also what its real name is," and "Dad says one of the hardest things of all is to imagine what it's like to be somebody else." Both important topics for reflection.) Then, after he falls asleep in mid sentence, I have a few minutes of quiet reading time.

So while this is a good part of the day mentally and emotionally, somehow biologically or physiologically (biorhythmically?) it has some not good effects. I lie down pleasantly full from supper--not too full--and feeling good about the food choices I made all day. I get up wanting to eat All The Things. Somehow in that few minutes, I shift phases from having been sufficiently nourished for the day into someone who would gladly rob a Hostess Twinkie truck. It's a good thing I don't have a gun.

It's a particular desire for something sweet that I know has to be related to tiredness and is not a dietary need at all. I don't have much of a sweet tooth at other times. Usually there is no junk food in the house, phew! So I can be satisfied by drinking my nightly cup of tea and maybe eating a few almonds. Those cocoa almonds are good for this.

It's possible that this is my body telling me I need to be going to bed at that time, but I am a terrible and habitual night owl.

Anyway. I'm coming to how the marital dialogue portion of this story. But first a detour through another part of our bedtime routine in this house. You'd might as well move in.

Matt and the kids have nightly wrestles up on our big bed. But the term "wrestle" is now a sort of catch-all for a range of activities that includes, but is not limited to, charades, trivia, tickling, interpretive dance, and physical challenges. It is their thing and I never witness it, I just hear the hollering and thumping. It has grown and gotten more ritualized and complicated, to the point where he now makes bets with them about different things and, the following day, doles out small rewards for amazing feats. I'm sure it's normal to have one's children perform for treats?

Which leads to the fact that he bought a bunch of 90%-off Christmas candy and hid it on a high shelf in the book room, for parceling out to them over time. Like, a really high shelf that I can't reach, and I wasn't even sure exactly which shelf it was.

So the other night I stumbled downstairs, having grown drowsy in Hank's room and developed a fairly raging craving for one small treat.

I cut right to the chase, "Where is that candy you got? I want one piece of it."

And he smiles and starts to get all "Oh you want candy! Well let's discuss this situation." Like, not in a lascivious way, or not only that way, but he's all ready for us to have the little kitchen flirtation moment we have after the kids are in bed and we can relax out of our day roles into different roles. I can change from having been super competent all day to wanting to be indulged and he can refocus his attention away from work, and then we can move on with our pursuits, severally or together. You know the kitchen moment I'm talking about.

But I had a monkey on my back and I did not want to play. I was like, "Give me the candy. Give it to me now. Please." Which he thinks is hilarious. And I can see how ridiculous I am being but I can't help it. I said, "GIVE ME THE CANDY. I don't want to play." And now he is getting the candy down from the shelf, while attempting to poke gentle fun at me and I am not having it, so I escalate by saying, "I don't get it. Are you hiding the candy from the kids or from me? Or from yourself? I DON'T GET THE WHOLE NARRATIVE OF THE CANDY."

"Oh ho!" Now he is just enjoying himself. "You don't get the narrative of the candy? Is that your PhD talking?" And then I am just wounded because that is a totally normal way to talk about something. Everything has a narrative of what it is and why it's where it is and oh never mind! Give me the candy.

Then, perhaps wounded himself by my stiff-arming his attempts to be playful, he brings the whole bag of candy into the kitchen and sits it on the counter. I take a piece and punish him by avoiding eye contact. Until two seconds later when I come to my senses and look at him and shrug. I apologize for being a crazy person. And somehow the whole thing serves as our kitchen moment anyway.

He has been married to me for almost seventeen years.

What are y'all up to? Any narratable kitchen moments?



Beth said...

I am so glad that I am not the only one who feels like she needs to eat All the Things (pace Hyperbole and a Half!). I think it is something emotional about being done with the day, about indulging oneself after the kids are in bed and have a treat for job well done, or, at least, done.

I think the narrative of the candy got sutured to the narrative of the kitchen dance, and hence, it all needed to be unpacked. Says my PhD.

Beth said...

Ugh, parallelism. *having

Common Household Mom said...

Girl, you need your own candy bag. Set yourself free!

The narrative of my candy is that I didn't hide it well enough and when my college-freshman daughter came home for winter break she ate all my candy. At those times (and they are many) that I needed to eat All the Things I was reduced to eating brownie batter, dry from the box. A woman just needs Candy of One's Own.

Becky said...

OMG dry brownie batter! And you weren't even high (were you)?!? But yes. Candy of One's Own! And when do we want it? NOW.

Beth, there was definite suturing of narratives going on, out the wazoo. But you identify the larger thing--this sense we have that we need a treat for a job well done at the end of the day. I usually have a little netflix moment for that purpose too.

Anonymous said...

Yet again with your writing, I did the equivalent of a reading double take when I read "All The Things" because, YES! What the heck is that?
I am little miss nutrition (albeit not all that little and not much of a miss) throughout the day and then 8pm hits and WHAM I start pawing through the cabinets looking for anything that is crunchy. These days I'm not just battling a sweet tooth, but a crunchy tooth. My teeth (I'm certain it's my teeth and not my brain) would like to do a little crispy crunching in the PM. My thighs sigh sadly, my teeth long for a crunch, and my brain wonders what the H just happened. All of this is to say that I'm very thankful that you are shedding light on this subject as it tends to occupy at least a little portion of my night each day.

Anonymous said...

I just asked my husband if "Minority Report" was the one with the ball & Tom Cruise. When he answered weakly in the affirmative, I asked him to tell me what happened in it, because I only remembered a ball, Tom Cruise, and [a bunch of stuff I rattled off before correcting myself as having mixed it up with a zombie movie, then kept talking for a long time about this zombie movie I eventually realized was, in fact, a vampire movie, then I gabbled on & on with a lot of visuals and also a few obscure character-developments before demanding he name *that* vampire-not-zombie movie based on my weak, plot-free summary, after which I relented & said, "OK. But now tell me what happened in Minority Report."]

So, as you see, I can understand why you need to tell all the things to get to the marital thing. Also, I totally understand not wanting to know where the candy is. No good will come of it because, yk, when you're not eating it, you're not eating it.

Amy said...

Oh man, this is a great post! Lots to sink one's teeth into. Speaking of delicious discount Christmas candy.

Hank's line about snot is one of the funniest things I've heard lately! "I know its true name!" LOL Do you doze off when you're up there? Cause I find that if I take a nap at any non-bedtime, I seriously have the munchies when I wake up. I don't know why.

As for the narrative of the candy? I have to say I'm with Matt on this one. That is totally your PhD talking. I've never asked for the narrative of the clean clothes still in the laundry basket or the never ending supply of USB cables I'm always finding around the house. But hmmm, maybe I should.

And yes--we have kitchen moments FOR SURE. It is something to do with the changing of roles for the evening, but I'd never thought of it that way. Funny! I can totally visualize this conversation between you and Matt--him laughing at your narrative comment and you being all annoyed and low blood sugary. :) Love it!!

I'm not sure what my narrative is in this comment, but great post!

Jenni said...

This same thing happens to me. I lie with the kids and read as they fall asleep, and when I come downstairs, I'm desperate for a cookie or some ice cream or something. I make these cocoa brownies that are small (25 to a 8x8 brownie pan) but really rich and chocolaty, so if I can keep those in the house, they (along w/my evening tea) will usually do the trick. If I have no brownies, I'll put a bit of honey in my tea. That usually works.

Justine said...

I'm with you on the stuff having narratives concept. Or maybe that's my psych degree talking.

I did not used to be so into eating All the Things until my kids came around, but now it hits me big time at night too. This is not exactly what I intended to say in my comment, but on the topic of brownies, it just occurred to me that one of my favorite non-fat brownies are the no-pudge ones with orange zest. Must go hunt in the cabinet for a box now.

Elizabeth said...

I had a huge, huge fight once with my three boys (that includes The Husband)over the chocolate that I squirrel away in my bedside table. I have self-control and can literally eat one or two small squares a night. The bar will last me for two weeks, literally. The three boys actually got into that sacred drawer and ate all of it and then had the audacity to laugh at my "hiding" it. No kitchen moment followed. I now hide the chocolate under my underwear.

Star said...

GREAT post! One of your best, ever. (With each post I keep saying that to myself, then the next one comes along!)

Heather said...

Hi, my name is Heather! Please email me when you can, I have a question about your blog!


Lisa Lilienthal said...

I think the evening sweet craving must be epidemic. I never keep it in the house for that reason, but I remember once calling my darling across the street neighbor in Atlanta, who is my mother's age, and not getting much more than "you don't have any chocolate laying around do you?" before she was at my front door with a chunk of the most divine hazelnut chocolate I've ever had. And the kitchen dance has been thwarted lately by a night owl 12 year old ... I miss it. Enjoy.

Veronica said...

Great post! Unfortunately for me, one of the occupational hazards of living in a city is that even if I don't have junk in the house, there is always an open-late corner store stocked with candy right down the street...

puncturedbicycle said...

Fantastic. It is both totally sensible and a little overblown to throw the word "narrative" into the discussion, and I can say this because I frequently deploy "discourse" in a similar fashion.

My chap came into the living room tonight to ask how to cook some leftovers (parsnip latkes, shallow fried, since you ask). I talked him through it in detail, and even as I was carefully explaining the process, the pancakes were already smoking blackly on a high heat. So there he was, politely requesting my input on a matter on which he was already freeforming. Pshaw.

Nina said...

Hm... Could it be to do with what you have for dinner? Do you have potatoes, white rice, white pasta, bread? Then again it could be something to do with children, because when I used to babysit I'd go downstairs after the child(ren) had at last been persuaded to stay in bed, and I'd hoover up whatever chocolates, biscuits, etc. the parents had left for me. Or was that just because they had left those things there for me? I don't know. Calls for a second PhD, I think (yours, not mine - I don't even have one).

Becky said...

Punctured. Yes. The attempting to wing it and then asking for help without copping to having wung it. Yes to all!

Nina, nah, since I've been watching my diet I've been off white carbs. I swear I think it's psychological.