Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 'F' Word

Last night, after her bath, Adelaide and I spent some time together in her room talking.  We talked about books and her future and lots of other fun things.  At one point, she went into the bathroom to get something, and came back with a pair of leggings.

"Mom, I left these in the bathroom because when I tried to put them on, I couldn't get them up past my knees."

"Oh, they're too small?  I'll wash them and get them ready to send on to Aria."

That's when she said it.  The 'F' word.  (Not that 'F' word.  Jeez, people, she's six.)

"MOM!  Did you just call me fat?"

Fat.  Fat.  FAT.

I was taken aback and aghast and bewildered.  Where did she get that?

Like just about every other red-blooded American women, I've got my own peculiar set of body image issues, but I have been very, very careful not communicate so much as a hint of those to Adelaide.  I have never asked, "Does this make me look fat?"  I have never talked about the need to lose or gain weight, being unhappy with the way I look, nothing.  I try to speak in terms of health, and on the few occasions when I have rejected a certain item of clothing, I put it in terms like, "It's not flattering on me," trying to be clear that every one is a different shape, and that's okay.

And yet here she is, a newly minted six year old, accusing me of calling her fat.

It's at about this time that I want to scrub her name off the public school's enrollment and set up our own little homeschooling venture.  I want to take her to church and home again and never anywhere else.  I want to hand-pick all her friends and never let her so much as speak to anyone who might have a negative impact on her life.

Sometimes I overreact a tiny bit.

I know of a couple little girls she goes to school with who are already all about clothes and looking a certain way.  One of them is slated to be in her class this fall, and I have already her say some very specific and not exactly Kristy-approved things to our daughter and other girls.  Let's just say she's not the sweetest little thing you've ever met.  Let's actually say she's a horrid little creature and I don't want our daughter anywhere near her.

I didn't say any of this out loud, of course; I instead firmly told her that I did not care for that statement, and we talked about how people's bodies can change based on how much they eat, what they eat, and how much they exercise.  I also reinforced the fact that our focus is not to be on someone's outside appearance- including our own.

Of course, she listened and participated in our discussion; she always does.  The problem is that, in the past, I could generally rely on Adelaide's flightiness and in her pretty-much-lives-in-her-own-little-world-ness to insulate her against what are apparently hot topics in Kindergarten, like what clothes you should be wearing and whether or not someone is fat- you know, at the age of five.  She is apparently more aware than I had thought, however, and some of that poison has been getting through.

After our discussion- including Adelaide's healthy, thoughtful responses- I calmed down quite a bit.  She obviously doesn't see herself as "fat," and clearly isn't too focused on her appearance.

But I'm still keeping homeschooling in the back of my mind.  And a petty (if satisfying) vendetta against a certain little girl.


  1. Wow, what a shame the kids in her class are talking about this already!

    I have done the same thing you have --never denigrated myself or my body in front of Emma. In the long run, I have to believe that what she's exposed to at home will have a more long-lasting effect that the stuff she hears at school. If I don't believe that, I may as well give up entirely :-)

    1. I'll choose to believe the same thing. Sounds much healthier.

  2. groan and chuckle
    Groan over having to address the issue.
    Chuckle over your "over-reactions" and vendetta. :)

    (But I'm putting in a plug for homeschooling--it has many more benefits than sheltering from "horrid little creatures". giggle)

    1. I think your entire family makes a great case for homeschooling.

    2. Awww, that's a very sweet encouragement for me today.


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