She found herself in the food stamp line. She got work through a temp service. Her baby started getting sick ALL the time after starting day care. She just couldn’t stay healthy. She ended up having to admit her to the hospital. Such a nightmare! She didn’t leave her side, she kept a 24/7 watch. That nightmare became a lifetime of reading food labels. She wasn’t sick from daycare, it was a food allergy. To this day , she reads all of labels to anything she gives her.
Maris is seven and when she catches me reading the food label of a York Peppermint Patty, she asks me “what’s a calorie?” and my first instinct is to say “nothing important baby. nothing that matters. please don’t wonder,” but I try not to patronize her so instead I say “it’s the measurement of how much energy you get from food.” and she says “Oh. isn’t sugar bad for you?” And I say “No.” And she says “do you want to split this with me?” And I would rather not, honestly.
But Maris is seven and I never want her to know that I snuck into her mother’s bathroom to weigh myself before she got off the school bus. I never want her to know how I felt when I saw a higher number than I expected to. I never want her to wipe off her Dorito mustache. I never want her think about a calorie as anything other than something she needs plenty of to dance to silly YouTube videos and concentrate on her subtraction problems and play with her dog and cats and ride her bike and chase her little sister around the backyard and show off her archery skills for the boys across the street. I would really rather her never think about a calorie at all.
I say “sure, thank you,” and let the chocolate melt in my mouth.