The LGBB was having a Me Party. A party by herself, if you will…
But dang, the catchy tune was so good I had to join in. It became a Me Party + 1. Lolly was delighted! Mostly because I had come in when Miss Piggy joined the duet and, apparently, she saw an opening that was perfect for me to fill.
“Okay, Mummy… okay, you…” Lolly started organising and gesticulating with her arms and waving me into position like a stressed out backstage director, “you be Miss Piggy. Because you’re fat….”
My face must have belied any attempt I made to mask my shock and horror, because my little stick insect-sized daughter (his genes, not mine, obviously) followed that up with, “Or not…. maybe.”
Crestfallen, I took the tuna salad I had just made myself and retreated to the family room.
I was in tears. This was ridiculous. I’ve made such progress. I don’t consider myself “fat”, although I’m certainly large. I’ll never be a waif. I don’t want to be, if truth be told. Life has delivered some pretty hard knocks. I need meat on my dense bones, I can’t afford to blow away on a stiff breeze.
But being hit right between the eyes with this reality today gave me a jolt. Not so much about myself and my perceived size, but the realisation that despite our attempts to not bring body image into our language at all, our observant and opinionated daughter has her own take on things.
Let me just interrupt myself here to say, outright, that the LGBB meant no harm. There is no malice and no hierarchy in her reasoning. She simply states facts, in that childlike way they do. But here, now, was a tricky conundrum Steve and I hadn’t been properly prepared for: How do we let her know that her words hurt (she knew I was upset and asked her Dad if she had said something to make me sad after I had walked away to another room for a while for some thinking time out), without drawing attention to body image? It seemed unavoidable. It is something we have skirted for so long, simply by not taking issue with it… there hasn’t been a need before now, I suppose.
Steve made a valiant effort of explaining to Lolly that it’s not really appropriate to pass comment on anyone about how they appear – whether it be that they are short, tall, stout, skinny, fast, slow…. The whole general minefield of passing comment on another’s appearance ought to be avoided. But on the other hand, it was just fact (to her). We don’t praise her for being thin as a bag of bones – her size (apart from every second person exclaiming about her height – yes, we know… she’s tall, okay already!) is not something we use to identify her strengths. Instead, we go for how she is with others, the things she does, and so forth. Of course, we tell her she’s beautiful – who doesn’t tell their children that? – but it doesn’t go much beyond that. A person’s worth, in our home, is not measured by their looks. How we are towards others is prioritised over what size we are.
I know Lolly knows this. I’ve just never heard her say the words “you’re fat” before.
I guess now she knows the difference. She got it. She came to me and said she was sorry and gave me a generous hug and pat on my hair. I chose not to accept it as patronizing me further. (OK OK so I’m premenstrual… WHAT on earth gave that away????!! *sheepish*)
And me? Well, I’m now resisting turning my Me Party into a Pity Party with some of these round doughy things……
How about you? Have you ever had to broach the sensitive issue of not commentating on others’ appearance with your children? How did you do it without making a “thing” about it?