Sandra Tsing Loh catches her daughters sneaking junk food.
Newflash. An average full-time working mom spends more hours per week with her children today than stay-at-homes did in the 1950s! Those were the days kids tooled around on their bikes all weekend, and came home at sundown for a nice pot roast dinner. Those were the days before SAT tutoring, 4.75 GPAs, and pee-wee soccer leagues for kids under four feet tall.
It's unfortunate because, some 50 years ago, the advent of feminism was supposed to bring this wonderful new balance. Women were entering the workplace, which would humanize it. Men would be free to spend more time at home, which would make them more nurturing. But no. Today, instead of working 40 hours a week, men work 50 hours a week, women work 60, and weekends are spent madly chauffeuring the kids to extracurricular activities to prepare them for college, which now costs a million dollars.
And you know what? Something's got to give! For me, I could point you to my closet, a clothing volcano. Or to my messy car, whose passenger's seat holds both in and outgoing mail - and where coffee is spilled on the floor in the shape of South America.
But the domestic failing that finally sent me over the edge involved my daughters, 12 and 13. Getting them into their various complex LAUSD magnet programs? Check. Keeping them in socks and tennies, which they grow out of every three months? Check. Trying to muster the patience to watch their YouTube videos and listen to their favorite pirated music? And should I do something about that? Ah, well. Check.
All that I was handling, but what appeared to have gotten away from me was nutrition.
The school year was one thing. In my eldest's last wayward months in eighth grade, all the girls appeared to consume nothing but Takis and 8,000-calorie Starbucks mint-chocolate chip frappuccinos. Ah well. End of middle-school. The curtain drops. And scene.
Going out is another thing. Even at Subway, which should be healthy, in theory due to the complexities of lunch "combo" ordering, I watched in slow-motion as my younger daughter paired her tuna-on-whole-wheat sandwich with a blending of four different kinds of soda. A beverage I believe we used to call, tellingly, a "Suicide."
But what concerned me the most was what was happening in my own home. Since school let out, I have stumbled across wrappers from Danish chocolates, Japanese candy and, one particular morning, an empty giant Kettle Chip bag resting in front of the girls' bathroom on the floor like a tent. Where did they get this? I don't even recall buying this stuff!
Oh no. I'm going to have to turn into. . . Healthy Food Mom.
Next week: The Island of Trader No.