The Arrogance of Enlightenment: Ugh, Yoga

Yogis can be such arrogant assholes.

This whole enlightenment bullshit, this holier-than-thou attitude of some dude just because he can stick his foot behind his ear is just sooooo aggravating. I mean, come on, I’ve got a ballerina’s hip flexors and could pick my nose with my pinky toe but you don’t see me charging everyone 20 Euros an hour and flashing my taint. Sorry, that’s gross. I shouldn’t say that.

But is it any grosser than being in a carpeted room filled with barely-dressed people sticking their asses in your faces while sweating profusely? The only thing grosser is going to a totally normal yoga class wanting to get your stretch on and having to deal with some balding, pot-bellied guy who hasn’t shaved in a week and ate onions for dinner last night putting his hands on your hips to “deepen your stretch.” I’ll deepen your stretch, bub, now get your filthy hands off me.

I’ve been into yoga for half my life. And by into, I mean I have done it on and off, treating it like the whim it should be and not the life-devotional practice a lot of people experiencing life crises treat it as. I am not by any means ready to join the cult that requires you sell your belongings and only wear white pants (literal, not metaphoric, blrrrgghhh) and chant to whatever goddess has a dozen hands. I am not going to accuse my kid of having done wrong in a past life to have been born to me, as one of my bat-shit acquaintances from yoga class has done. And I most certainly am not going to talk about chakras and healing with you because even if I do get a little esoteric at times, yoga is and will forever in my brain be affiliated not with religion but with fitness. An old-person’s tumbling class, if you will.

A couple years ago, long before diva was born, I somehow got it into my brain that I should bone up on my yoga speak and maybe try to earn a few bucks with my ability to do backbends and whatnot and so I tried to get active in the local yoga scene and  get certified to teach. At first I thought yoga teachers could only be people who know something about anatomy (like med school dropouts) but then my sister, the artist, got certified and I realized anybody can be a yogi if he or she just pays enough money. It’s a giant fucking scam, I tell you, but anyway…. a traveling yogi from San Francisco, in town for a yoga conference, popped into Cologne a few days early and ended up staying at our house for like a week. He and Herr Lederhosen got ludicrously stoned for two days straight and he regaled us with tales of wintering in Brazil, where, he admitted, he only taught because the women were beautiful and wore next to nothing while crouching down on all fours and they worshipped him because he could do a turtle pose and spoke in platitudes. A misogynist boner’s heaven.

And one that a number of dudes seem to have found in recent years. Because while the majority of the participants in my classes are women (like 99%), more than half the time, the teachers are now men. I think they’ve been clued in due to the success of one guy who grew up in India and moved to Germany and has garnered a reputation for his tantric undertakings.

At risk of sounding like a man-hater, I just have to say that this is something I can no longer tolerate. I can no longer tolerate these dudes who put on flute music and speak softly and then come over and stick their faces too close to my chest while I’m doing a wheel or who say that I look stronger than I think I am and need to puuuuush myself (I know I have nice, toned arms, asshole, but I’m not pushing this stress because my shoulder hurts and not because I’m a wussy girl but thanks for pigeonholing me, jerk… now shove off). And I certainly can not tolerate the insecure blonde at the front of the class who’s always trying to get the dudes’  attention and whose shorts are so tight, everyone else is betting at how many minutes into class before she has a lip slip. It’s almost making me contemplate going to the studio run by lesbians but they only have one shower there. Instead, I’m trading in my yoga mat for some boxing gloves. At least there, I know what I’m in for: I’m going to be surrounded by grunting men who like to take their shirts off. But they won’t touch me, and I appreciate that. The gym is not a pick-up joint.


Out-Maneuvering the Mutter Mafia

I get it. I really do.

Your body has just done the most amazing thing — given birth to a real live human being — and yet, it looks so unlike your own body, so unlike you, it’s scary. Your belly is now empty, shriveled as a deflated balloon. Your tits are enormous, but instead of being Playboy Bunny material, they’re jiggling like a Jell-o mold every time you move. No clothes fit you properly so you’re still tooling around in the jeans with the elastic-waistband you can pull up over your granny panties to just below the terribly unsexy nursing bra that looks like it’s been made from your grandma’s lacy kitchen curtains.

Being sexy is the furthest thing from your mind, because really, between the feedings and the diaper changes and the nonstop blood, who the fuck has time to even think about sex?

But then a couple months go by and the feel-good hormones have disappeared and the blob that’s been sucking the life out of you suddenly doesn’t need your attention 24/7 and so you turn your attention back to your body. To all the things that are not right with it. How it looks and feels so alien. So unlike yours.

I get that you’re just not feeling it anymore, that you want your pre-baby body back stat.

I get that those “pelvic floor muscle-building” classes that your midwife recommended and your insurance company paid for are over and you still see no discernible difference in that blubbering belly of yours. I’ve been there. It sucks.

But you know what? It’s okay. It’s not a permanent state of affairs. Trust me.

There is no need to take to the park to speed walk while pumping a 1-pound weight in your left hand while pushing your Bugaboo with your right hand. There is no need to subscribe to Jilian Michaels’ YouTube channel so you can attempt to finish off 30 Days of Shred without milk leaking through your sports bra and dream of fitting back into that sleeveless dress that will never ever fit again because your tits have settled in a completely different place.

My midwife told me to not even think about running the first year after my daughter’s birth, not if I didn’t want to piss myself every time I sneezed. And you know what? She was right. The first time I tried to run for a tram while pushing Diva’s stroller I thought my uterus was going to fall out. Worse, weirder pain than anything I ever felt while pregnant. And I have no problems sneezing.

Because eventually, those stomach muscles stitched back into place. Five years on, they aren’t a six-pack, because abs are made in the kitchen and despite many many planks and hanging leg raises, I have a layer of chocolate between my muscles and skin. Still, they’re as flat as they’ve ever been. It happens if you want it to. So please, please, just enjoy your time with your newborn. Don’t waste your time and money doing boot camp in the park while bitching about sleepless nights and worrying your kid hasn’t eaten enough because half the jar is still full. Your tits are not going to magically get less bimbo-tastic because you’re pumping a 1-pound weight, at least not while you’re still breastfeeding.

Instead, go for a walk. Feed the ducks. Take a tumbling class with the kid.

For fucks’ sake, do not commandeer the running path while doing squats with your limousine strollers three abreast. It’s not only unbecoming, it only makes you feel bad about yourself. You’ve just had a kid. Give yourself a break.


Thanksgiving, or My Gratitude Journal

So my therapist (of course I have a therapist. I’m American.) told me I have to stop thinking so negatively. She said I have to start sitting down with a journal every night and write out five things I’m grateful for that day. A gratitude journal it’s called. It doesn’t have to be much or extraordinary — just a few words to remind me of the things that made me happy that day.

Do you know how fucking hard that is?

Or how absurdly American?

When she said this, I kept thinking the Little Orphan Annie was going to tap dance into the office and start singing about looking on the bright side of life and I was going to have to smile and nod and pretend that I do not want to strangle that silly little bitch. But then I remembered the song’s from Monty Python so my raging inner fires calmed down and I agreed to this nonsense of trying to be more positive.

Thing is, I’d much rather take out my notebook and curse the dude who would not stop hitting on me at the bar the other night even after I pretended to be married (it’s dudes like him that make me limit my bar visits to once in a blue moon). And I would rather write about the racist bitch at the bakery who refused to serve the black Frenchman standing in line behind me so I had to order his daughter’s goddamned sweet roll for him. These, my friends, are the things that occupy my days most of the time — at least when I leave my house — and so my gratitude journal has been almost entirely comprised of childish notes like: “I’m really glad I cooked something that wasn’t noodles tonight” and “My cleaning lady came so now my toilet is spotless” and “I went for a run.”

It’s the little things, I guess. And I guess I need to start focusing on those things, giving them and not the assholes around me all my mental energy if I want to be in a better place (and I don’t mean Copenhagen).

So to keep myself from further morphing into an ornery old cat lady who considers yoga pants the height of high fashion and snaps at every motherfucker I meet on the street, I’m going to try my hand again at a Thanksgiving post and tell you about all the things I’ve been thankful for this year. Because although the things I was thankful for last year still apply, maybe there’s something to this whole idea of being grateful for how fantastic life can be. Maybe having gratitude can make it even better? Someone get me some rose-colored glasses, please.

1. I love that I have friends who indulge my desire to get the fuck out of dodge and then don’t strangle me when I spend our weekends away in a crappy mood because the hotel room’s too small and the kids are getting on my every last nerve. You know who you are.

1a. Also extremely grateful for my friends who lead interesting yet stable lives that could be a role model for mine whenever I stop using the word stable as a curse. People who let me into their lives in mad ways that I never would’ve expected — like taking me to both the French Riviera and to the doctor when I most needed it.

2. Speaking of doctors, I’m thankful for my health because even after spending a good deal of time fretting about it over the last year, we have finally come to realize that there really isn’t anything wrong with me that a bit of positive thinking and patience can’t fix and this amazing body of mine and its healing powers is something that needs to be appreciated. Also, I can run again. Bam.

3. The Diva. Never not going to be thankful for that. Even when I have to pick her up around the waist and carry her kicking and screaming through the otherwise quiet yet crowded cafe and she wipes her chocolate-covered face on my new white sweater and tells me she hates me just because I want her to use the toilet so that she doesn’t pee her goddamned pants on the train ride home. Grateful.

3a. Also grateful that during this very trying Princess Phase that Diva is going through, I do not live in the US, where a real-live Barbie can come to your birthday party (my sister did this once, dressing up in an old bridesmaid’s dress for good money) and advertisements promoting toys that turn toddlers into miniature Ms. Worlds are on heavy rotation. We have a crown collection, thank you very much, and no, my four-year-old does not need her own make-up set and high heels.

4. Being in touch with my materialistic side has meant I’ve been splurging on shit like sauna visits and massages and fresh cut flowers and cute bras and knee-high boots and candles and pillows for the couch. I can decorate my apartment in what is otherwise known as “cock block deco” and not give a shit. I am also overwhelmingly thankful that I no longer live with a non-aesthete who thinks it’s okay to repair his bicycle on the white rug in the living room. And thankful for my cleaning lady who can keep said rug white even with a chocolate-loving terror in the house.

5. My therapist. Of course.

Happy Thanksgiving, all you Amis. Drink wine, stuff a bird and curse your family for me.

Flexing Your English Fitness

I’ll admit it: I’m a gym rat. I started working out with regularity right after I left my husband on the recommendation of a friend who told me about the awesome day care service at a local gym. Before that, I’d been a yoga junkie, but with no one to look after the babe while my ass was up in the air saluting the sun, I converted to a fitness freak.

You wouldn’t necessarily know it to look at me, but thanks to a series of injuries that may have put me off running for good, I’m at the gym now nearly every single day. Of course, when the sun is shining, I’d much rather be running laps around the FC’s training grounds, waiting for the footballers to take their shirts off while dodging duck poop, but since that ain’t often in the cards for me anymore, I’m limited to getting my cardio kicks from classes with names like Body Combat and Body Attack! Because, you know, becoming healthy is similar to going to war. Plus, the class titles are English so they are like a million times more effective than if they were called Koerper Kampf or something to that end.

Add to the win-win title a load of flashing colored lights and instructors screaming Mo’ Mo’ Mo’ along with Usher and it feels a lot like being at a disco on the Ring on a Saturday night replete with bared shoulders and see-through pants but without the empty calories. And just like at the disco, at my gym, if you’re lucky, someone will ask you to get naked with him or her after class — one of the great perks of having a sauna at the gym and German unabashedness. But I digress.

Point is, these classes, fun though they may be, have been extremely difficult for me to get through in recent weeks. It’s not just the broken foot giving me a hard time, though the teacher does like to remind me every week that it’s okay to take it easy while coming off an injury. No, the thing doing me in at these classes is the music. First, Les Mills released their new soundtrack for the quarterly choreography and they included a new track by Flo Rida titled “Whistle.”

Now, Les Mills is not known for choosing awesome songs to pump iron to (Nickelback anyone?), but I like their classes and the music sure beats the death metal playing at a lot of Cross Fit gyms. Still, they decided this go-round that it’s a-ok to have a room full of sweaty, scandily-clad people listen to a dude giving instructions on how to blow his whistle.

Les Mills comes out of New Zealand and last time I checked, Kiwis spoke English, so I know these choreographers know exactly what’s going on in that song. The problem is that so far, not a single one of the instructors at my gym seem to have gotten that message. So each week, some very well-chiseled triathlete will get up on stage in front of dozens of people and do some stomach crunches while innocently singing along with Flo Rida, “you just put your lips together / and you come real close / can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby.” It’s a bit ridiculous when it’s the twenty-something blonde woman singing, but I lose it when it’s the forty-something gay guy telling people to blow his whistle. I feel sorry for him, I really do, but I’m too busy laughing at the dude’s naivete to show him any pity.

I mean, it’s not like he’s intentionally trying to come on to his students, not like these amazing aerobics instructors out of Japan, who have found the best thing to happen to aerobics since Jazzercise, Zuiikin’ English:

Ever since The Honourable Husband introduced me to these Learn English aerobics videos, not only have I been on a mad hunt to find myself a Fraeulein sports bra, I’ve been dying for a dude to tell me, “You look sensational in that dress,” and “I want us to be more than just friends.” At least in those cases, the guy would know exactly what he’s saying as he sings along.

Not like the instructors at my gym, who seem to be completely clueless about what’s actually happening in the songs they play — and even more clueless as to why I act like a pre-pubescent who’s just found her dad’s Playboy in the closet, giggling uncontrollably and unable to make eye contact. Case in point: Tuesday’s spinning class, in which the fireman who leads the class (and whose English is so terrible he can’t even understand me when I speak German) put on a 90s dirty rap mix as we practiced mountain climbing. We kicked off the climb with Juvenile’s “Back that Ass Up,” came out of the saddle (not a metaphor!) to “Whoop There It Is!” and peaked to L’il Kim’s “How Many Licks.”

Now, I like old school dirty rap as much as the next girl (my first CD was by 2 Live Crew, replete with Explicit Lyrics sticker on it). I have even been known to karaoke those songs after a shot or ten of bourbon. But this was all just too much for me to handle. I literally fell off my bike laughing by the time the cunnilingus karaoke came on. Of course, fireman and the rest of the Germs in the class were able to maintain their composure, remaining completely clueless as to what on earth my problem was. And at the end of the class, when the wheels stopped spinning and the disco lights were turned down, the instructor even came over to me and apologized for the difficult ride. Because RIGHT, the workout was too intense — that was why I fell off my bike.

I thought about explaining the real reason. And then I realized I don’t know the German word for cunnilingus so why bother, right? If the song’s got a good hook, do we really need to understand all the words? In the meantime, I’m switching my spinning class to Thursdays. The American instructor for that class only plays instrumentals. No laughing allowed.

My Running Ban, Or A Run-In With An Unfriendly German Doctor

After six months of being an on-again off-again runner, it looks like I won’t be accomplishing any of my running goals for this year after all. Because although I was actually feeling better after all the psoas massages and osteopath visits, I still wasn’t 100% and running still hurt afterward so I went back to the orthopedist I visited last year, just to confirm that there was nothing wrong with me physically. Turns out there is something wrong with me physically, something with my third metatarsal and the circulation in my foot, something that can only be alleviated through surgery; something that the orthopedist completely missed during my first visit, when she told me I was a runner and runners sometimes have pain and I should just take a few days rest and maybe get fitted for insoles.

She’s a gem, this doctor, I tell you. Her bedside manner was incredible, from the moment she walked in the door and said, “So I suppose you’re pretty upset that you’ll need to be operated on, huh?” before I even knew the diagnosis.

Of course I was upset. Mainly, though, I was confused. After all, it’s my hip and upper thigh on my right leg that’s been nagging me. It could be that this nagging may or may not be connected to the fact that my left foot is broken in some inexplicable way and I have adjusted my gait to alleviate the pain (which would go against previously theories about how my hip popped out of place) but I can’t say anything for sure because my orthopedist, in truly ueber-annoying form, refuses to say anything more than I need an operation and I need it immediately. To her credit, she gave me a copy of the MRI and a sheet of paper with the MRI’s findings listed on it and the phone numbers to the local hospitals that may be able to perform the operation and a transfer to said hospitals.

But because I am not privately insured and also something of an incompetent when it comes to figuring my way around the German healthcare system, I couldn’t get an appointment for another month at the hospital to have someone explain to me just what this doctor’s talking about. Also because I am a normal human being and not a well-studied doctor versed in human anatomy, I have no clue what to make of the MRI CD or the pig latin with my diagnosis on it. And this doctor literally refused to answer any more questions, especially after I said that I was pissed that an injury I’d seen her for over a year ago had gone unnoticed. After that, she was busy saving her bottom from malpractice (“How could I have known the insoles weren’t working?”) and telling me that I was an idiot for having run on it for so long and that I needed to stop running immediately.

Wait, I’m the idiot? And oh wait, stop running?!? That was just the final nudge over the cliff of a nervous breakdown.

Because here’s the thing: I have an unbelievably, incredibly high tolerance for pain. When I was in labor with the Diva, I walked in the door of the labor and delivery ward at 9 cm dilated and the midwife on duty literally flipped out on my baby daddy for waiting too long to bring me there (to which he replied, she didn’t say she was in pain — because I wasn’t, until I suddenly couldn’t move from all the pain). Also, after the birth, my left foot was numb and I saw doctor after doctor for it and all of them said I was just a new mom with a lot of stress and I needed to get used to the changes in my body and maybe rebuild my pelvic floor muscles and I believed them because I’ve never broken a bone in my body so how could I know what true pain was like. Maybe it *was* just a weak pelvic floor making me walk like an elderly person who’d forgotten her cane.

What I don’t have a high tolerance for, however, is this — and I’ll say it despite my despisal for bad stereotypes of Germans — ueber-German refusal to assist strangers who may be experiencing mental anguish. The whole “It’s not my problem, it’s your problem,” attitude that drives me insane. The whole culture of “You figure it out, sweets, *I* certainly don’t have time to explain it to you.” Is that not what doctors are there for? To listen to a person’s complaints and explain shit that the average commoner would not know about his or her body? Because although I know the average German has no issue with going to the doctor when he or she feels a scratchy throat coming on, my high tolerance for pain means that if my ass is sitting in your office, there is a problem to be looked at and that problem is not that I am a new mom who forgot to do her Kegels.

Thankfully, I have a very good friend who talked me down from the ledge twice on Thursday (though not before I flipped out on every single person who crossed my path, including some poor delivery guy who I know makes shite wages and just wanted me to sign for an Amazon package for a neighbor who pretends I don’t exist whenever I pass him in the hallway). A friend who convinced me to call my sports doctor who referred me to a foot specialist who actually, literally, laughed at the fact that I had to make an appointment for surgery for “I don’t know what” and wondered at my ortho’s competence aloud.

So I’ve got that appointment tomorrow. Until then, it’s been a banner emotional weekend, with lots of depressing thoughts about gaining weight (even though I don’t run to stay slim), getting old (if aging means having surgery, then I want none of it), wondering how I’m going to stay sane if I can’t run (therapist has already been engaged), and the need to replace my entire shoe collection because I can no longer wear heels or sandals with straps near my toes. As if it hasn’t been depressing enough living in Germany during the spring and summer that never was…. Can’t wait to be unable to do *anything* once the sun finally begins to shine again.


I know I don’t post *all* that frequently, but Jesus, these last two weeks have been rough ones for this here old blog.

First, there was the very intentional disconnect I made when going to the south of France to stay in an old stone house with no internet and only an expensive roaming package on my iphone to keep me in touch with the outside world. It couldn’t have come at a better time, seeing as my work stress levels hit a peak (can they do that? I thought being freelance meant no stress was allowed to take over my life?) and the bombings at the Boston Marathon brought up not only crappy long-buried psycho issues (I’d say PTSD but that’s not a legit disease, so, um, let’s say nightmares that I haven’t had in a couple of years) but also turned media and the Tea Partiers in my family into ueber-nationalistic pro-gun lunatics and I desperately needed to not talk to anyone or read the news in order to maintain my sanity.

So there was that. It was refreshing. Not only the decision but the mandatory follow-through. Even if I wanted to fire off some missive about how people sick enough to blow the legs off runners at their peak has absolutely no bearing on whether or not you should be able to buy an AK-47 when you turn 12, I couldn’t. That’s what has been missing in my life — not the desire, the follow-through.

And then I came back from the Riviera refreshed and ready to be respected and had a whole bushel full of “shit I was going to do to keep the vacation happiness a-flowin’ in my every day life,” also known as plans to bring some regularity into my life by a) not being online so much and b) telling the people who expected me to be online all the damned time that they could shove it. The follow-through.

The first e-mail I sent, in which I said I would no longer be available for a client on Sundays, citing work-life balance, got a very unhappy response. Fine.

The second thing I did, deleting a shit-ton of friends and Tea Partiers from Facebook, got a very unhappy response. Fine.

The third thing I did, intentionally leaving my iphone at home while I went to the playground with my kid so I could actually enjoy my time with her and focus on her in the present, got a very happy response from my kid. Awesome. Three is bigger than 1 or 2 so I’m planning on sticking with it.

And then something funny happened. A storm blew in, there was a power surge (I think) and randomly, my wireless stopped working… followed by the DSL and landline telephone. My only connection to the outside world was my iphone, which has a ridiculously bad data package (I only use it while traveling or with wifi) that allows me to check email about twice a day before going over my limit. And Vodafone, awesome as they are, took a week to fix it.

I wanted to bitch. I hate Vodafone and their stupid tactics and poor tech service, I really do.

But being without internet or telephone was refreshing. Forced follow-through on a plan I was/am confident is the right one for me to help me find my work/life balance again.

Client 1 from above sent a series of not immediately responded-to emails and ended up, over the course of three hours, in a monologue, deciding not to work with me again. Fine.

I had to organize my working life so that everything was done ahead of me going to a friend’s office to steal wireless internet connection for an hour. Time management, something I never have while working online, was dead on.

As you can see from this blog post, my internet’s back up and running and I’m using it. But I seriously don’t even know what to do with myself now when I am online. I’m not going to be as insane as this journalist for The Verge, who went offline for a year, but I am going to start making some serious changes to how connected I remain in the future. I remember after my daughter was born vowing to not let the laptop distract me from her amazingness. It’s time to renew that vow. I just hope that everyone else can handle that.

How Not to Give a Kid an Eating Disorder, Part 2

The Diva announced the other day that she no longer eats white foods. She prefers broccoli to cauliflower now, she says. This, I think, is awesome and I tell her so. I’m glad she’s willing to eat her greens, even if her former go-to vegetable has been shelved in the meantime.

Except that if it’s all about color, we’re going to have problems. Her staple diet of broetchen and noodles isn’t going to cut it if white is not acceptable for food.

I’ve already witnessed this with clothing. Clothing can only be pink or purple or must be extra super-duper special, like a tulle ballet skirt that twirls.

But food? There is no such thing as pink pasta, right? At least not naturally pink. There are Pink Lady apples and she likes those, although peeled so I don’t think it’s *only* because of the color. I don’t tell her they’re white on the inside though I’m sure she knows this. And I find myself hoping that the interest in eating green broccoli sticks. I’m really afraid it won’t.

I’m afraid not that she’ll give up her love for broccoli — my affairs with nearly all foods go through spurts. Some weeks I could devour one eggplant after another, the next I find it meh and hop on a carrot stick craze. Here is what I am afraid of: me and her both overthinking her diet. Making it an issue of color instead of taste (her). An issue of fat/protein/carb ratios instead of texture and mouth-feel and all-around goodness (me).

We already talk about food too much. Discuss what we will and won’t eat. Make trade-offs and compromises: I’ll give you two gummy bear vitamins after you finish your yogurt. Or: I’ll let you eat a tofu dog this once but next time you have to eat the lentils.

Her Kita tells me they don’t have this problem with her. They tell me she is ravenous most days, devours two or three bowls of whatever food is put in front of her, white or green, split peas or potatoes with sour cream, no questions asked. She has her preferences, they say, but she never doesn’t eat.

There are foods that she will eat there that she won’t eat at home. Eggs, for one. Cheese, too. She won’t eat those at home because I don’t eat them, so inadvertently, even as I am encouraging her to eat them because I know she likes them, she never sees me eat them and so she simply won’t either. She is the definition of a social eater — munching potato chips and fried eggs with Grandpa, putting bananas in her cereal with Grandma, ordering pepperoni on her pizza when her best guy friend does (picking it off as soon as it arrives because, as she says, it’s disgusting).

The Kita also tells me that she is ridiculously hard-headed and I know this well. She takes after me. I was the kid whose parents said I could not leave the table until my plate of venison stroganoff was picked clean and I did not leave the goddamned table until bedtime. I’d rather suffer starvation than eat deer meat.

Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the Diva, she employs this hard-headedness at the dinner table with me often. Kid some days She will go to bed hungry and wake up at two a.m. with belly aches because she went to bed without eating after throwing a tantrum about not being able to chocolate before dinner and then refusing anything, even a broetchen, out of spite toward her big, mean mommy.

These occasions are blessedly rare but they do have me wondering, worrying, about her health. Not in a physical way, but an emotional one. What eating disorder am I setting this kid up for? The one in which she eats whatever she wants for emotional gratification? Or the one in which she tries so hard to control what she puts in her body that nothing goes into it?

Our pediatrician says this worry is normal, that toddlers go through growth spurts in which they eat loads followed by phases in which they eat nothing. The doctor is from Ethiopia and she reminds me, when I ask with worry, that she has seen starvation and this little Diva of mine is far from suffering it.

Still, I wonder, what do we moms of Divas do? How do we handle these eating “requests” without turning them into issues?