Tuesday, December 16, 2014
While driving Cordelia home from preschool I am used to discussion time. Usually she comes back from school ready to talk. Sometimes she wants to talk about school stuff, but other times she just seems ready to ask any question that pops into her mind. Elise quietly listens, absorbing it all. I love this time, but it is often challenging as kids are wizards at asking tough/confusing/weird/uncomfortable questions. I am careful to pause a moment and consider my answers to the more challenging questions.
The other day we were driving and Cordelia asked me why some people are "fat." We never ever use the word "fat" to describe people to our children so I assume the word came from a discussion with her friends. We had just been talking about the snow monster from Frozen, so it was a rather abrupt topical shift and I wanted to be sure that I said the right thing.
Finally I said,"Well, people struggle with their weight for a lot of reasons, but mostly they are overweight---which is what we say instead of fat---because they have trouble listening to their bodies and they eat when they don't need to eat or make unhealthy choices and don't get enough exercise."
Then I was peppered with follow-up inquiries:
"Why don't we say fat?"
"Because it makes people feel bad. Being overweight is something that most people don't want to be as it is hard on their bodies."
"Why don't people listen to their bodies?"
"For a lot of reasons. Sometimes people eat too much when they are bored or sad. Some people have health problems that keep them from being able to stay healthy. Some just never learned how to eat healthy."
"Why do people eat when they are sad?"
"List three ways that people have sickness that makes them not listen to their bodies?"--She really talks like this.
"Is riding my bike exercise?
Why don't people want to be fat?
"How are people unhealthy when they weigh too much?"
It went on for some time and I tried to focus on the value of healthy eating and exercise, always listening to what our bodies are telling us. I told her that healthy people can come in all different shapes and sizes. I tried to shove all of the body loving goodness I could at her. Additionally I tried hard to emphasize that it is not our job to judge other people who are having difficulty making good choices. Who knows how much sunk in, what she and the eager eared Elise took in on that drive? Hopefully I said the right things.
Then, recently we were at an event and I noticed that Cordelia was really scoping the scene. Eventually she loud whispered, "Look mom, none of these people are listening to their bodies." I looked out at a sea of people who were very overweight and couldn't really deny that fact. Later we talked about it again and it was clear that she was feeling empathetic to people who might be unhealthy or uncomfortable, but I also emphasized that people are so much more than just one thing. Who knows? Parenting is tough. What are your thoughts on the issue?
Posted by Maria Rose at Tuesday, December 16, 2014