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Kids say the darndest things?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

With all my exercise and food updates, I forgot about something else that happened over the weekend.

We went to my in-laws' on Saturday to meet my soon to be new step sister in law (haha, my husband's family is huge, chaotic, and complicated, and I love them). For the record, she is awesome. But also a bunch of family was around.

My 9 year old niece (she got all "I'M ALMOST TEN" with me, but kid, your birthday is in September. You're not even 9 & 1/2 for another 2 months. Chill.) wanted to sit with me and regale me with endless stories about her Favorite Show.

Yeah. Her new favorite show? Is "Here comes Honey Boo Boo." So awkward moments, several, ensue.

N: Have you seen that show?
me: Not a whole episode, but I've heard of it. That's the one with the family where the mom and daughter do pageants, right?
N: Yeah, it's so funny. I love it. One of the things about it, the mom is like... really.... *holds arms out* Like, not even your size, I mean **REALLY** BIG*.

me: ....

I mean, okay. Clearly I'm the idiot here, I have realized this. She's 9, and not blind. I'm the biggest woman she knows. Seriously - if you consider both immediate and extended family (mom, grandmas, aunts, cousins, second cousins...) I am the fattest woman in her family. Fair enough. It's not a judgement, it's just a fact. She may have friends or neighbors who are my size or bigger, but I wouldn't know. This is actually a fair comparison, and not intended to be hurtful.

(Except, you know. Ouch. A little. Basically that translates as "not like YOU fat, like SUPER fat." So yeah. Not my favorite comment of all time... hahaha.)

But it was also kind of interesting. There was no judgement of *me* in her tone of voice at all, she was just providing a convenient example. But there lies the part where wisdom maybe grown-ups should have more of (people are whatever size) totally departs from wisdom that she does not yet have: The part about whether it's okay to laugh at how fat Mamma June is, because the show makes a point of it, and her own kids make fun of her, and she's on TV.

I didn't really know how to navigate this conversation, other than to be honest, but gentle.

N: This one time, everybody was trying to lose weight, so they all weighed and do you want to know how much mamma weighed?
me: okay.
N: 307 pounds!!!
me: ....

(because I'm too busy thinking... ya know, I was 300 this past summer.... so....? Do I tell you this and blow your mind?)

N: well anyway, it's so funny.

She made me watch clips on You Tube on her phone, and there's one where they go to a water park and Mamma gets stuck in the inner tube and the older girls have to help her get it off.

N was like "funny, right?" so I just said "I don't know... a lot of my friends are fat, too, and the show just makes me think of how they would feel if they were on TV and everybody was laughing at them... I think they might feel bad."

She backpedaled, a little, but did point out to me "well, even her daughters make fun of her." Like that makes it okay, but maybe it got her thinking. Who knows.

She also talked about the pageants. Again, it's interesting, she'll leave out the word "fat" like it's a bad word, but she's essentially trying to tell me a story about how it's funny because someone is fat. It doesn't matter if you say the word or not, if the sentiment is the same.

N: It was funny, because all the other girls were so skinny, and then Alanna...
me: She has such great stage presence. I think she's cute. Anyway, I got picked on when I was a kid. It's not easy being the one who is different.
N: But really, it was like *lines up two skinny water bottles on the table, and then puts a shorter fatter juice bottle next to them*

I just... have no response to that.

This is not really a new trend or anything, though. A few years ago she was telling me about some Nickelodeon show she loves, and the super funny episode where one of the characters makes up a song about one of the other boys. The song is basically about how he's ugly and can't get a girlfriend. I just responded with "that sounds kind of mean. I usually don't think things that are mean are very funny." because... what else do you say?

I'm trying to think back to the stuff I watched as a kid and whether "mean to people who are different" was a primary theme of the humor.... Saved by the Bell was so tame compared to everything that's on now, but Lisa *was* pretty mean to Screech I guess. They all made fun of him, and Zack took advantage of him, so I guess it's similar. It's a "nerdy" kid instead of a fat kid, but that doesn't make it okay either.

It might just be a kid thing. They're still figuring out the social interaction thing, and sometimes compassion goes by the wayside.

I know she's not one of the Mean Girls who picked on me when I was her age. But then again, maybe she is, just to some other girl. All I can do is be honest. No, I don't really think it's funny. Look, there are things we can notice about people other than that they are fat. How would you feel for people to talk about you that way?

Most of the time, she's very sensitive and very sweet. I don't see her around her peers, just family and her brother, so I don't know if that carries over. I can hope so. But look at what watching this show is teaching her. I worry. A little.

It has occurred to me before that if I keep going how I'm going, I'll get the weight off and keep it off in the next 18-24 months. Maybe my other niece, who is 3, won't even barely remember me as fat. Maybe one day she'll be looking at pictures from her babyhood and be totally surprised. That would be nice.

I try to be a good example. I don't complain about my weight, my body, or what I ate in front of them (negative body image). All the other family is constantly mooning about how "pretty" they are - them, their hair, dress, whatever (both the 9yo & the 3yo) so I try to compliment them on their other attributes. Grades, hard work, knowledge, bravery, kindness, singing, whatever. I'm trying to say to both of them as often as I can, without saying it, "You don't have to just be pretty. There's more to you. Be proud of other stuff."

Maybe.... hopefully.... my own children will never know me as fat. They'll just see pictures of me from my young adulthood.

That's what I'm working towards, anyway...

So yeah. That happened on Saturday.

In other news, I think I might be overdoing it a little. Yesterday we finally got back to the "regular" (non-pool) gym. My work and PT schedules have been totally messing with that. So I did a good half hour of strength training, yay! Then because I was on a late shift and didn't have to be in until after 10, I ALSO went swimming. Then when I went into work, it was a travel day for me so I had to load and unload three large heavy cases of equipment, and haul them up and down 3 flights of stairs. By myself.

Got home well after 7pm, no grocery shopping or cooking got done. I didn't want to eat dinner at 10pm or after, so I said screw it, we're going out.

I'm exhausted and most of me is sore/tired. I think I need to chill.

So the plan is no swimming tonight. No swimming Saturday morning. I'll sleep in and get some rest before vacation. I MIGHT swim tomorrow night, or not, depending how I feel. But I'm just going to take it easy and ease off. I've been cramming in too much and I'm really feeling it. I still have bursts of energy for work stuff, but I'm tired and cranky most evenings so I'm taking a break.

The scale is up down up down up down, but it's PMS or week prior to (I forget) which is usually my heaviest time of the month, and my sodium and water intakes have been all over the place, so I'm not giving it much consideration. It is what it is.

**PS: thinking about all this kids being mean or not stuff and getting picked on as fat from the age of 8 through high school got me thinking, and as I was pondering what I would write about this. It occurred to me that, for any amount we did fight (which was not THAT much, compared to some of my friends & their siblings!) my older brother? Never ONCE went there for even a second. Not once. Ever. Our whole lives. He never called me fat, or made fun of how I looked. No four eyes, no metal mouth (maybe because he got glasses & braces before I did!) no butter ball, none of it. This probably makes him the most amazing kid who has ever lived. I already knew he was awesome, but when I go home in 2 weeks? He gets extra hugs. (((BRUDDER)))
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  • BECCA315
    That was very heart-warming, and a little uncomfortable. My kids have only known me as overweight, and I think they still see me that way, even tho' I've lost over 40#. And while they would never make fun of another fat person, I guess it's OK to tease me because I'm MOM...

    3005 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13045899
    I think you handled that situation with an incredible amount of grace. =)
    3005 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13361666
    I love that you are helping these girls learn that appearance isn't everything and that other people's feelings count too. Even if you can't completely counter all of the other messages that are out there in their lives, you can be that once voice of reason in the wilderness. It means that they will occasionally stop and think about what you would say or how you act. And it means that they know they have a resource that is honest and different when they need advice. You didn't cave and just agree that picking on the fat kids is funny - you told her what she didn't want to hear. Someday, that's going to be REALLY handy when she needs advice or support and knows that you will always tell her the truth.

    Anyway, you're awesome. I'm excited that you are going to have some kiddos of your own someday so that at least some of the next generation will be raised by an awesome mom.
    3011 days ago
    Good for you for managing the niece with tact. I probably would have opted for duct tape, trust me, if you knew my family...anyway. I'm not a fan of "reality shows" of any kind. Okay, I do like "top chef" and "iron chef" in limited, small doses, but that is it. And trust me, you will NEVER see me eat anything they cook. EVER. It is interesting to watch, but the thought of eating it? Just grosses me out.

    Awesome about your brother! He sounds like a great person. And it is really cool that you know that. When you do have kids, they will have some great role models!

    Have a great weekend, rest up for that vacation!
    3018 days ago
    It is difficult to teach kids how to treat each other with kindness because today's television shows are so slanted towards making fun of people for being different. It irritates me that curse words get bleeped out, yet it's perfectly OK to show kids making fun of their heavyset mother, or to portray rural Southern people as stupid ignorant rednecks. Kids see that kind of stuff on TV, and talk about it with their friends, and no one is really talking to them about why that's not right and how they should react. Sadly, we are pretty cruel as a society when it comes to people who are different from us. At the very least, we love to stereotype and pass judgement. The only way I can see to combat this is to talk to kids about what they are watching. I don't think we need to shelter kids (that's just almost impossible without a big kid-sized hamster ball) but instead get them to critically think about a situation like that. Like ask them why is it funny? What would you feel if you were going through that? I really like the approach you took, which wasn't combative, but made her pause a bit. I would say if she ever brought it up again, to say something simple like, "I don't think making fun of someone who's different is very funny. Let's change the subject." Kids love attention, and the moment you act like you aren't paying any attention to a subject, they'll be willing to switch just to keep you focused on them. It's obvious she does look up to you if she wants to sit and talk with you like that. I think you handled it very well. Change doesn't always happen overnight, and sometimes all it takes is a seed of doubt planted like that to make a kid think twice of how to handle a situation.
    3018 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12383123
    I have 4 kids, 3 of them are grown, but the things kids pick up from the world around them still amazes me sometimes.
    (On a little side note, my daughter was astounded when my grandbaby dropped an f-bomb, I however, was not so surprised, haha!)

    Often times kids might think being overweight )or whatever it is that makes someone different) is funny...look how many shows there are that show someone getting picked on...with a laugh track to go along with it.
    Not to mention the reaction of someone else who might be in the room with them while watching it.
    3018 days ago
    Awesome brother. I grew up hearing my entire life that my Cousins are beautiful. and they are it just doesn't bulid self esteem that your pretty or anything. But i love my cousins because they are the nicest people. So their beautiful on the inside. Just never helped bulid self esteem. So i understand were coming from with telling them about other good things about them.
    3018 days ago
    I think kids just don't realize that what they're saying hurts feelings. I got called "the big girl" in high school all the time, and I was MAYBE a size 12. Thinner than I am now. (To be totally honest with you though, I think that verbal diarrhea is why I really am not overly fond of children. I'm just not a fan.)

    I'm glad you had a good brother! I was an only child and my dad never made me feel anything but beautiful, even when he probably SHOULD have said something about my weight.
    3018 days ago
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