This is my albatross. Still. Even though that boy is all grown up, the scars remain.
|1987: The best chubby picture I could find|
That fat kid still lives inside me. I feel sorry for him and am angry at him all at the same time. I need to forgive him. But I can't yet. First, I have to learn how to live with him.
You see, even though I am in shape. Even though I run half-marathons. Even though I cook and eat healthy meals, don’t smoke and rarely drink. Still, that fat kid has a hold on me. He always might. And I just might have to accept that.
He’s why I often ask My Director if I look fat. (Yes, and she even made fun of me for it in the blog post she wrote for me for my birthday.) And while she tells me I’m being ridiculous, and I know I’m being ridiculous, I never feel like I’m being ridiculous. I always just feel… fat. It’s terrible.
I worry because I don’t want the Peanut to have a negative body image, no matter what kind of body type she grows into. I don’t want her to be fat, either. I know that may sound insensitive and shallow. It’s just how I feel. My Director and I have conversations about it all of the time. Away from the Peanut, of course. It’s all my doing. I always start the conversation with an “I don’t want her eating that” or “You give her too many snacks.” I’m always asking if she thinks we’re teaching her unhealthy habits.
|Perhaps this is my good side?|
She’s right. I need to relax. My Director also points out that Peanut sees that daddy exercises. And that I’m setting a good example that way too.
But I’m petrified for my daughter because she has my genes. Because she’s my daughter and being my daughter means she is predisposed to being a chubby kid, predisposed to being mocked, predisposed to being sensitive about it. I don’t want that for her. But I don’t want the opposite for her, either. I don’t want her to think she has to be thin to be beautiful. I don’t want her to agonize about food. I want her to enjoy it, responsibly. This is by far my most difficult challenge as a parent.
As an adult, I am responsible for my own diet. And for the Peanut’s diet. This is why I am so particular about the food I buy, cook, and feed my family. My dad died of a heart attack at 59. That has a lot to with it too. I cook the meals in our house because I want to teach the Peanut healthy eating habits. (Also because if I didn't cook we wouldn't eat.)
I know if I wanted to I could eat an entire box of Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies in one sitting. This is the main reason why I couldn’t bring myself to answer “Cookie Monster” when Peanut asked me who my favorite Sesame Street character is.
Maybe my parents didn't know enough back then. Maybe they really did think it was “just baby fat,” as my mom would always say. I can’t really blame them either, even though they are at least partially at fault. Because there is a sad fat kid inside of me I also know that depriving the Peanut of dessert is also not the answer. This is the tightrope I walk as a parent. This is the internal debate in which I participate every time Peanut asks, “Daddy may I have a snack?”
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the answer is yes… but what that snack is always depends.
She may not be a fat kid. There’s no indication she will be, but who knows yet. And if she’s not, the mean kids at school may very well find another reason to pick on her. She’s going to need braces eventually. And it looks like she’ll have an issue pronouncing her s’s and r’s as a result of that overbite. Kids could be so mean.
I should know.
In the end, I just want her to be healthy. And happy.
There's a reason I chose that quote by that artist to headline this post. On a car ride home from daycare one evening, Peanut recognized the first few chords of a song that started paying. "Daddy, it's Adele." Her dance teacher plays a lot of Adele songs in class. That gave me hope that Peanut, like Adele, can be more comfortable in her body than her dad is.