Friday, September 2, 2022

The Pavlov Twitch


Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Glaze | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert
 I twitch whenever my younger son calls. There's an involuntary little tic, just below my right eye. Not exactly the reaction you'd expect when hearing from your grown son living far away, but in my defense, it's a classic case of conditioning, learned through years of association. 

Ask Pavlov. Well, I suppose you can't, since he died in Russia in the 1930s, but I'm willing to guess you know his work. His theories, no longer theories, were proven and consistently confirmed. And I'd be willing to bet you've seen the proof of his theories yourself.  
Pavlov was most renowned for theories of learned response and conditioning. I don't have to tell you that they are proven, most parents often find ourselves relying on them. One of our most successful tools is the use of classical conditioning to elicit desired behaviors in our children.

And we've also seen the learned behavior, even when it's in a situation where we're not trying to teach anything.
Just like Pavlov's dogs, my kids (actually, all kids in the vicinity, not just my own) would come running when they started to smell chocolate baking in my oven. Well, not exactly like Pavlov's dogs, far more discriminating. They didn't come running in quite the same way, or often at all, when they smelled dinner cooking {{sigh}}.
 Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Glaze | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Glaze
When I see that name pop up on my cell phone, I don't salivate like the dogs, or come running like the kids, I twitch. 
As I said, it's a learned response. 
PurDude lives 8 hours away. We check in with each other daily, by text. He's a man of few words anyway, and texts are convenient. He checks in and asks how I'm doing, I respond and let him know what's going on around here, if I'm lucky he may let me know a thing or two that he's doing, and we always end with "love you."

Now that he's in Colorado, just like when he was in school in Indiana, and before that when he was in high school and not at home, if something's wrong, a situation he knows I need to be aware of or if he needs help, he calls.
There was the time:
PurDude, a brand new driver, was in the turn lane, traffic on either side of him, and a state trooper came roaring up his lane. PurDude had nowhere to go and the trooper continued to accelerate. At the last minute, traffic on one side of PurDude opened up and he was able to jerk to the left just in time.
And the called to tell me he'd broken his leg. I'm so traumatized about how it happened, I still can't talk about it.
He was heartbroken when he called to say that his frat's chef died.
There was time he hit his head and went to the hospital in an ambulance.
And the Sunday he was stopped by the police and questioned about a series of breaking and entering crimes (in a building, closed on Sunday, whose parking lot PurDude had picked to turn into when he needed to turn around). 
And let's not forget the time he was on the highway, fortunately with his brother was in the car. A piece of cardboard flew up from the road, hit (and broke) PurDude's grill, and plastered itself to his windshield, covering it completely. College Boy had to stick his head out the window and talk PurDude, completely blinded, over to the side of the road.
The Pavlov Twitch, what do you do when your kid calls? | graphic designed by, featured on, and property of | #MyGraphics #humor

Yes, he calls to talk at other times, but I often know he's going to. And even then, it doesn't matter. My response is ingrained. {{twitch, twitch}}.
Just a few weeks ago, my cell rang at about 2 in the afternoon. Up popped PurDude's name {{twitch, twitch}}. We'd texted that morning, he goes into the office a few days a week and I knew he was there and busy {{twitch, twitch}}. 
I answered as quickly as I could, just needing to hear his voice and know he's OK. I have forced myself, over the years to actually answer with "hello," valiantly fighting the urge to start with "what's wrong."
I could hear highway noise. As soon as he said "mom," and I knew he was OK, my instinctual (you could even say Pavlovian) compulsion won over: "what's wrong?"

Of course, something was. He'd gone home for lunch, was doing about 65 mph on the highway back to work and there was a thick piece of metal in his lane. He couldn't merge over, there was traffic in the next lane. Woman in front of him hit it and went off the road with a flat. Woman behind him hit it and went off the road with a flat. With no safe option for him either, PurDude hit it head on and ended up with 2 flat low profile tires, and 2 bent wheels. $3500 in damage, and that's if he's lucky and nothing happened to his suspension system.

I know it could have been worse. I know it could have been better. And I know that I am proof that Pavlov's theory is alive and kicking. 

I mean twitching.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Glaze        

Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1 TBSP brown sugar
5 TBSP butter, melted

1 1/2 bars (20 oz total) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, finely crushed
2 TBSP baking cocoa
1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 TBSP brewed coffee, cooled
1 TBSP dark chocolate syrup
3 eggs, room temperature

8 oz fresh strawberries
2 TBSP strawberry jam

*Lightly grease a springform pan and wrap the bottom with tin foil. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
*Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 1 TBSP brown sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom and partially up the sides of the pan.
*Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, the remaining brown sugar, crushed dark chocolate chips, and cocoa. Once the mixture is smooth, beat in the heavy cream, sour cream, coffee, and chocolate syrup. Last, beat in the eggs, one at a time.
*Pour into the prepared crust and bake for 70 - 85 minutes, until the center is just set. Allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least an hour before releasing the sides of the pan. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator.
*Hull and slice the strawberries. Whisk the strawberry jam to loosen. Mix in the strawberries and allow to sit, stirring now and then, for 1/2 hour. Pour over the fully cooled cheesecake, or serve on the side.
*Store, covered, in the refrigerator.


  1. It always gets me too when my daughters switch from text to call mode. This cheesecake looks delightful!

    1. I don't like the reaction I have, but I haven't been able to change it either.

  2. "I answered as quickly as I could, just needing to hear his voice and know he's OK. I have forced myself, over the years to actually answer with "hello," valiantly fighting the urge to start with "what's wrong."" Me? I pick up the phone (engage the call?) and wait a few beats before I say hello. I'm listening, listening for the ambient sounds, listening for the breathing. Every.damn.time. Even though most calls are non-incidental.

    1. Yes, this time I could hear the traffic in the background as I was saying "hello," I knew that, once again, something was up.

  3. I totally understand this! And I've never had nearly the experiences you have!
    Whenever any of my kids call, there's always a little *clutch*. And these are grown kids with kids of their own. Yikes.

  4. My son is of so few words (and texts) that if he calls, I get a twitch, too. And a pit in my stomach. Although his life hasn't been quite as adventurous - or maybe I just don't know better.

  5. Two of my three boys rarely call, but Middle Son is good about checking in. If you lump FaceTime in with actual phone calls it's probably three times a month. Just to chat! Back in his teenage years I never thought that would happen.

  6. You have my sympathy, i'm always the one called when there's such an emergency. Glad he's okay and praying nothing's wrong with the suspension.

    1. No, the suspension was fine, one little bit of good luck in a big steaming pile of bad.

  7. Oh wow, it's crazy that a piece of metal can cause so much damage.

    That cheesecake looks so good but I had to go low carb recently because of my diabetes so no cheesecake for me.

    1. Yes, so much damage but I'm grateful he's OK. And I'd have to agree that this cheesecake might not be on a diabetic's food list.


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