Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weighty Issues

I took the kids to the doctor, and it's just a nasty cold. Patrick also has a sinus infection, and they both are back on an inhaler until the horrible hacking cough goes away completely. Josie is a day behind Patrick, so she stayed home again today, but he went back to school this morning and was fine. The albuterol throws him for a loop emotionally, though; he's hyper, and very teary.

The sight of the two of them laying on the couch yesterday, sniffling, coughing and blowing just tore my heart. The poor things looked so pathetic!

We ran into a snag at the doctor's office, though. As usual, the kids had to hop on the scale before going into the exam room. Patrick got on and off, and Josie got on. She saw her weight, and said, 'Oh.' and got off. This had never happened before; always she would jump off exclaiming in delight at how big she was getting. Not this time. She went dead silent, and I could tell something was upsetting her.

We went into the office to wait, and I wanted to say *something* without being too leading, so I just said, 'Wow, Pea, you're finally as big as the dog!' She was quiet, and I asked her what was going on. She said, 'None of my friends weigh that much.'

Oh, no. Here we go.

You have all seen photos of Josie, and she's perfectly perfect for who she is. She will never be skinny, but she's certainly not obese either. I didn't know what to tell her about that, so I just replied, 'Oh. Is that bad?'

'It seems like a lot. Even my friends who are taller than me weigh less than that.'

To be honest, it had seemed like a lot to me, too, but not for the reason she was saying; the last time I remember her weight, it was 20lbs less. I think it may have been weighing heavy, because I think I would notice if she was suddenly 20lbs heavier. I decided that I would tell her to hop on the one at home if she mentioned it again, but she didn't, so I didn't either.

I don't want to make a big deal out of this and make her think about it more, if she's let it go for now, but I also don't want her to be wandering around with a nagging voice in her head that she's fat, either. I think the whole thing came up because her friends have been talking about how C, a girl in their circle, still needs a booster seat because she's so small (their whole family is tiny), so I think all the girls were talking about weight this past week.

Do I bring it up on my own to try and replace whatever negativity she may be feeling with something more positive, or ride it out and wait for another comment, hoping that nothing said is nothing thought?


Nowheymama said...

Oh, jeez. Could you bring it up generally? Like how all people have different genes and grow to different heights, have good/bad eyesight, have allergies or don't, etc? And then see where it leads?

Giselle said...

Man...parenting just never lets up, does it...just keeps getting harder.

I would maybe bring up something that you struggle with...frustrations about a part of yourself that you sometimes wish was more like other people. I don't really know much about you physically or what things might bother you...but casually say something like, "Man, it is so frustrating that the other people in my class never study but still get A's." or "I really wish I could reach this top shelf...if only I was tall like my friend Mary." or whatever. And maybe it would open up a discussion about how we are all different, and sometimes that can be upsetting, but that we can still love ourselves in spite of or because of our differences.

I personally plan on dragging out the photos of myself from age 10-13 and saying, "Hey at least you don't look like THIS." or if she does look like me say, "Even though my legs were so skinny my knees look like cantalopes and my feet are as long as aircraft carriers, I still had lots of friends and got into a great college and got married to a fantastic man."

d e v a n said...

Ugh. Poor girl. As someone who has always been taller and often bigger than other girls I can feel for her.
I don't have a lot of advice though. :(

Marie Green said...

See? This is why I am wholly unqualified for any of this "raising healthy kids" shit.

My girls are all quite petite but I worry about the opposite- they are such picky eaters, am I ruining them for life with my constant trials to get healthy food down their throat???
Girls and weight/eating disorders is such a LOADED subject. I hate even trying to puzzle it out.

Where is the instruction manual for this shit??????

AndreAnna said...

OMG, I'm going to go hide until my daughter is 30. See ya.

DAVs said...

Now, I'm not a parent. But I was the child of a previously chubby mother who was *always* on a diet and therefore weight was an issue in our house. Plus my Dad was a super skinny marathoner and he really tied a LOT into weight/looks so we kind of always heard about in a round about way.
The results? I remember pinching my muscular thighs while looking in the wall-sized mirrors during gymnastics (I was a five nights a week training gymnast with powerful legs) and feeling fat. Not proud of my body or aware of it's strength and capability but fat. And I rarely recall a time in childhood/adolescence when I wasn't worried about my weight. I went on to develop bulimia in high school and some college. It sucked. When I think about all that time and energy WASTED on worrying about my body/weight well, it's just sad.

So I guess I just veered off into my own issues there for a while, but I think you're very smart to approach this so carefully. I think involving girls in sports is huge and critical--it helps them to see their bodies for function and strength and not just the mirror/scale. I think it's a delicate line and you never know what a kid will remember (like my very definite memory of my Dad saying I had 'stout' legs when I was somewhere around eight or nine).

Yikes, maybe I don't want to be a parent after all :)

She's lucky to have someone like you who is so aware. Sorry for the total ramble without really anything useful!

Kristin.... said...

Yep, I know EXACTLY how you feel. As the mom of an almost 9 year old who is 4ft9in and not at all skinny, I hear you. I also don't have answers. So far, she knows she is taller than almost every kid in her class and she's ok with that. But I'm sure sooner rather than later there will be questions about why she is "bigger" than everyone (although with a dad at 6ft2, an uncle at 6ft4 and a cousin at 6ft5, she's probably figured it out) else but we'll just go with the status quo for now. We just remind her that we love her no matter what.

Hotch Potchery said...

ugh. I have no words of wisdom being a heavy person with tons of weighty issues of my own. I hate the pressure young girls put on themselves, and I whole heartedly agree with the sports suggestion...our bodies are powerful machines and I have never felt better about my 'thunder thighs' than I have lately!

Not Your Aunt B said...

Ugh. I don't know what to say. I would approach her directly. Try to find out more what she thinks about it and then try to reframe any negative or misperceived thoughts. I guess I just wish someone would have told me at that age that everyone has something they are sensitive about and helped me see things for what they really are. Parenting is hard.

Stimey said...

I'm so sorry. That's a total time bomb right there. This is definitely one of the reasons I'm happy to have boys. I wish I had some good advice for you. Maybe just a lot of positive role modeling and casual comments about beautiful, healthy people in all sizes? Let me know if you find the answer. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Oh no! I can't believe it starts so early. I mean, yes, I really can, but I'm horrified for you both. I know you'll handle it beautifully, whatever you decide.

creative kerfuffle said...

i'm a day late and a dollar short on this one--haven't been around much lately. we have a similar issue w/ the boy. he is stocky. he's built like the hubs. and, while the girl isn't stocky or fat at all, she isn't a string bean. i try to stress to both of them that they are not fat and that the main thing is to be healthy. as i type this i realize it's coming out lame. never mind.
i'm glad josie isn't dwelling on this too much. she is a gorgeous girl.