Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Fat Shaming

Life seems to be accelerating at break neck speed now that I'm with the kids a LOT more than I was previously (before Noah's preschool situation imploded and before I reduced Judah's time in after school daycare).

I can hardly find time to clear dirty plates off the counter and wipe down crumbs, much less maintain a blog of our ins and outs.

But I must! I must! Because this will be my only record of these soon to be bygone days of early childhood chaos and joy. I can think of no better application of Dickens' famous lines - It was the best of times! It was the worst of times.

First the best...

Child development books all say that age 5 is the "golden" year of childhood. And with Judah it is completely TRUE. He wants to be good. He aims to be good. And about 95% of the time he succeeds swimmingly.


He's so "good" in fact that he broke into tears last week when I told him that he'll one day be a teenager and will intensely dislike his parents.

Every teenager finds his parents annoying, Judah. They feel like they already know everything and that their parent's rules are simply there to frustrate them and keep them from enjoying life.

No Mommy! I don't want to be a teenager!

He was so distressed that I finally decided he could only be helped by a higher power. And so I told him to pray about it. That sweet boy, he immediately bowed his head and said the most precious thing.

Dear God, thank you for our life stages (Life stages! I kid you not, that is verbatim - the rest I'm paraphrasing from memory). Please let me be a good teenager and not hate my parents. Amen.

Man, I wish this kid could stay "5" forever.

And then the not so good...

Noah has always been a short, fat kid. Especially juxtaposed to his long, lean brother.

Noah at 7 months: poster-child for childhood diabetes or baby sumo-wrestling.

When Judah went through his "I'm Batman" phase, he often pointed to his baby brother and declared that Noah was "the Penguin".

Unfortunately, Judah's teasing of his brother has persisted and now Noah tells me at least once a day "Mommy, I'm fat."

I usually respond with a avalanche of reassurance.

You're not fat Noah!
You're perfect!
I love you just the way you are!
You're wonderful!
You're not fat. And even if you were, there's nothing wrong with being fat.

But you're not fat!
Hippos are wider than giraffes, that's how they're supposed to be.
You're just the way you should be!
Everyone's different and that's okay!

Why can't he understand he has THE PERFECT little body?

This week, instead of my usual tirade, I decided to ask Noah a further question. Maybe I'm reading to much into his statement - I'm fat, mommy. Maybe he identifies as "fat" but doesn't feel like it's a bad thing to be fat.

So I took a deep breath and said, "And how does that make you feel, Noah?"

He looked down and in a small voice whispered, "embarrassed."

Mommy heart. Broken.


Tammy said...

Ohhhh, poor little Noah and poor Mommy! And Noah's not fat at all...not that there's anything wrong with that!

Alice in Wonderland said...

Thanks Tam - I know right?! It's amazing how our view of ourselves are so profoundly influenced by what our authority figures tell us. Poor little siblings have to be subjected to their older siblings' totally WHACK viewpoints :-(