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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Okay, I loved all the suggestions about what to do when the kids comment on my 'waddle" when I go out and substitute teach. So many great ideas about ways to make it a teaching moment, to teach the children empathy and concern, and help them see that pointing out oddities in others is not the right thing to do. I plan to try this the next time I face the situation.

I also think that perhaps I over-reacted. After all, they are young elementary school children, they are just curious. I didn't get a single comment from the kindergarten classroom I subbed in last Friday afternoon. I noticed one little girl staring intently as my neck however, and I will have to admit, it was a relief when she didn't return to our classroom after they left for their science class. I assumed she was one of the students who was just in that room for math, as several other students were. Still, it was a relief not to have to answer the question I knew would be coming.

I got to thinking about how other people who are not exactly 100% perfect, and are teachers, confront this situation. My very own sister-in-law, who is lovely and slender, is a teacher. She has a marked limp from a hip condition she was born with, I believe she was born without hip sockets. My husband has told me that her childhood doctors told their parents that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was in high school, but it never happened. She kept her weight down and I know she works hard at keeping the pounds off, because she has lived with us a summer or two while she got her master's degree, and I noticed her eating habits. She knew if she let her weight get too heavy, she would lose the ability the walk. More recently, she has looked into surgery, since they do hip replacements now, but her doctor advised her not to have surgery until she couldn't walk anymore, and right now, she is doing great. She is 58 years old, walks fine, rides a bike, and is still as slender as ever! She is also still teaching. I wonder how she has handled the comments over the years. You know she has had plenty of them. And I had comments from others on my blogs who are teachers, who were heavy at one point. They had great suggestions on ways to handle the kid's comments.

I guess what bothered me more than anything was that I didn't try teaching until I lost weight, because I feared the comments and teasing, and then when I thought I looked normal enough to try it, I still got the comments. This meant to me that I still do not look normal. It was just disappointing. It's funny I don't mind it when the kids ask me how old I am. They know I'm older, they can tell by looking at me, and for some reason that doesn't bother me. But the darned "waddle", the remnants of all the years of morbid obesity, cannot be covered up, and it is evidently the first thing people see when they meet me.

I am not going to let this stop me from substitute teaching though. I worked too hard to get here. I am loving the freedom I have now, to be able to pursue any activity I want, no longer limited by my obesity. I just picked up a bicycle my daughter-in-law gave me. It was her bike when she was 13, but her legs quickly grew too long for it, (she has beautiful long legs!) and she had to get a bigger bike. Since my legs are still short (and stubby), I think it will be a perfect fit for me, and even though the bike is over 15 years old, it's like NEW! Even the tires are still okay! I can't wait to get out there when it's a little nicer weather, and RIDE! It's a girl's bike so hopefully I will be able to get on and off more easily. My dad's old bike was really nice, he got a good bike, but it was so hard to get my poor arthritic knees to bend enough to get over that boy's bar on it. I crashed more than once trying to get off that bike!
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  • MYRTLE811
    Be proud of all your achievements; you look wonderful and are doing things you never thought were possible. Children notice everything; if my hair color changed just a wee bit, they were asking what I did! Just be the wonderful person you seem to be on this blog with them and they will accept and respect you. Keep up the great work; wish I could go bike riding; have to learn all over again and it's scary but something you've made me think about again.
    1855 days ago
    I love the attitude. It helps you get through anything. Good luck with the bike it sounds fun.
    1856 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    I'm not sure I'd want to get personal enough about myself to make a "teaching moment" out of kids curiosity or insensitivity.

    Enjoy your "new" bike. My husband wants us to go bike riding--I can't even imagine that yet!
    1857 days ago
    Your new bike sounds wonderful. Enjoy it, and enjoy your substitute teaching, too. You can do it!
    1857 days ago
    Enjoy your "new" bike! It makes me feel like a kid again to go flying down the trail. Just fun, fun, fun -- and then you get fitness, too.

    Best wishes with handling those questions. I wished we lived in a world that didn't ask them, but we don't. Sure hope you get very comfortable very soon and understand for real that the proof you fought the battle of obesity and won should make you appreciateall your accomplishments. -Marsha
    1857 days ago
    I think you have a good attitude as I don't believe any of the children meant to hurt your feelings. Most mean to be kind. Good luck on your subbing!
    1857 days ago
  • JEANNE229
    I think you are right. Little children do get curious, and it can always be a teaching moment if you answer honestly and without shame, because you are beautiful and should have NO shame at all!
    1857 days ago
  • KERRYG155
    A lot of people speak without thinking and yes, kids are always curious and have to learn what is polite and not. A lot of adults don't seem to know the difference either so what can I say?! I do remember comments and questions from my younger cousins about my facial hair since I have dark hair and everyone else is blonde. That was humiliating to me-I really wanted to cry. Good for you getting out on the bike. I'm terrified of falling with my artificial knees and bad hips. Have fun riding-when it's not freezing cold or snowing back there in Lincoln.
    1857 days ago
    You have made such wonderful changes in your outward appearance but it doesn't take much to hurt. I can understand that!! I was merely overweight but, because of genetics, I also have a "waddle". Can't even THINK about turtlenecks! So--I'm not sure what to say but little children DO say things that even their parents would rather they didn't and how we respond does make an impact.

    I hope that you continue to embrace the major changes you have made and continue to teach--sounds like you have a talent for it! Enjoy this new chapter--as a retired person and as a no-longer-obese person (I wanted to say "skinny" but don't know if you'd accept that label or not). emoticon
    1857 days ago
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