Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's So Hard

When my mom is out of the country and in a very inconvenient time zone, as she frequently is, I'm the back up for my sister's daily check in phone call. She's supposed to call every night at six (nine o'clock at night her time) and we make small talk but mostly the call is for me to remind her to turn off the tv and get her ass into bed. She lives on her own within a community that provides structure and limited supervision, but she has to get her own ass in bed and that's the daily struggle. She would much rather watch tv or hang out with her boyfriend until 4 o'clock in the morning and then she doesn't get up on time the next day and the whole situation gets fubared, as my brother would say. Although I don't know if the phone call makes any difference, a lot of times I think I am getting the Grade A snow job from her and she gets right off the phone and turns the tv back on, but it is still good to check in every day.

Of course a phone call every day with your sister with whom you don't have a lot in common means you rapidly run out of of things to talk about, and so a lot of it is kind of just me grasping for conversational topics. She always asks me about the baby and tells me to play it music and I always ask her what she had for dinner. Yesterday she went to the cafeteria at her school and had chicken stuffed with wild rice, and squash. Not too bad.

I ask because I am interested and I love to hear about food and it's often the only thing I can think of to talk about, but she loves food too, a little too much, and has been struggling with her weight her entire life, which means "what did you have for dinner" is also a loaded question. I try not to be the mom in her life, she has one of those, I try to be her cool older sister, but I also know she's no fool and she tells me she had a DIET root beer on purpose.

Later ni the same conversation I asked her how often she ate on campus, just making conversation, and she said that she eats breakfast there every day, always sausage and egg on a croissant. And I couldn't help myself, I couldn't help myself, even as I heard my mother's special lecture voice coming out of my own mouth I said "hmmm, that's not very good for you, maybe you could eat that once a week and then on other days have fruit or oatmeal" and she protested over me all at once, loud and as fast as she could..."No, no, don't worry, no, I have them HOLD THE CHEESE."

The thing is, I know it makes no difference to tell my sister that a sausage and egg croissant every morning isn't good for you. She doesn't care. It tastes good. I'm sure she has other healthy options available to her and she certainly has her own kitchen and healthy food in it and she doesn't care. She loves sausage and she doesn't hear that it's bad for her because she doesn't want to, and the real problem is also that on some basic level she isn't capable of making herself do things that are good for her, but are not fun, like NOT eating sausage.

It's so frustrating. I do think there are ways to get through to her, but of course they aren't lecturing her over the phone, they are hard work labor intensive start at the bottom sort of things, things I am not there to do. For example lessons about food given while teaching her how to cook something seem to make an impression. If you teach her how to cook a grilled chicken breast on the Foreman Grill, she can incorporate that into her life, and she knows that it's good for her and that she is supposed to eat things like that. But I am not there do things like that with her, I am across the country, and even though I have made her cookbooks and bought her a chefs hat and a monogrammed apron and a crock pot I am not there to have healthy cooking lessons and while I am sure they do have cooking classes on campus I am also sure that they are not healthy.

Man, it's just so hard to let go of telling, arguing, lecturing, all this useless talking that she isn't listening to, that she doesn't want to hear, that isn't making any difference, but I think of her and that sausage croissant EVERY FUCKING MORNING and it just kills me.

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