We had just started our last week of summer vacation. It was a Monday night and right before bed my kids (boy age 6, girl age 5) both asked if they could stay home from camp tomorrow. I figured they were just “over” camp—as the camp they attended for most of the summer was a little sub par from what we were expecting. I was kind of over the camp myself. So I just figured they were too.
Me: Why do you want to stay home?
Son: We don’t have anyone to play with there.
Me: You have each other! And what about *Johnny? Are you not playing with him?
(* name changed to protect the guilty)
Son: No. We don’t play with him. He says mean things and hits me.
Me: WHAT?! You were best friends at school. What happened? What did he say?!
Daughter: He said you were fat, Mommy! But you’re not fat! You’re not fat.
Oh, I see.
After I died a little bit inside, I asked my kids why they were even talking about me. I did not really get an answer on that. But my daughter, bless her sweet, sweet heart. She just kept hugging me and saying, “You’re not fat, Mommy. You’re not.”
This one is hard for me. I have always had issues with my weight. I mean it’s bad enough that society is constantly making me feel fat, but now some jerk seven year old is in on it too. And now this kid has put this thought into my kids’ heads. That’s what devastates me. Do they now look at me that way? Are they going to start comparing me to other moms?
Will they now see me as fat?
I have always been very careful to not project my weight insecurities on to them. We talk about being healthy and eating right and exercising. I’ve never once talked about any insecurities with my weight in front of them—or at home in general. I have a thin husband, so I really do not talk about it home. What do you say when everyone in your family is small, except you? I still do not want to project my insecurities onto them, so I had to take a minute to figure out how I wanted to respond.
My first instinct was to tell them, “Well. You can tell Johnny to kiss my fat [insert obscenities here] ……” But that probably would not be a good move in the long run, huh?
So, instead of crying in heap on the floor (like I really wanted to do), I flipped the script.
My husband and I constantly tell our kids how important it is to treat other people with kindness and love. We tell them that life is not about how they look. It’s about how they treat people. Especially in this present day in age, where hate seems to be all around us, we want to make sure our kids never cause of someone else pain. That others find themselves encouraged—not teased. That my children spread LOVE and not hate.
So I looked at my daughter and said: What am I always telling you?
It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you treat people
Right! Have you ever been angry because of the clothes somebody was wearing? Or how they looked? Has that ever hurt your feelings?
Have you ever been angry or upset because someone said mean things about you or someone you loved?
Exactly. That is why it is so important that we watch what we say to other people. Your words can hurt people! Your clothes and how your hair is fixed, or how your body looks, does not hurt people. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of ourselves. But mean words and unkind actions hurt people! That’s why we must always treat others with kindness.
I sent them to bed with my brave face on and went downstairs and cried. You know, it’s hard enough to be the biggest one in our family, but it feels so much worse when someone points it out. And not only did this kid point it out, but he pointed it out to my sweet, clueless kids. The two people who still, for the moment, think I am the coolest. That really hurt. And to know that they were caused some pain because of me? It just killed me.
I know kids say things sometimes and do not really know what they are saying or how it affects people. I know my kids have said some mean things (intentionally and unintentionally) and that a part of growing up is learning when to keep your thoughts to yourself. So instead of giving this kid the side-eye every time I see him, I’m trying to move on and show him grace instead.
I did have a small victory recently that has helped put my mind in a better place. This “fat” mama trained and completed a 5K with her second grade son. We trained together for eight weeks and ran a 5K! I hope these are the memories my kids take with them. No, their mama may never be trim and thin. But you better believe I got out there and made some good and healthy memories with my kids! These are the times I hope they remember should someone else decide to take a shot at me—or them—again one day.
It is has never been more important than NOW to drill it into our kids heads that we must fight hate with love. That even if someone spews venom our way, it doesn’t mean we should spew it back. It is so important that we teach them that, while people have different opinions, their opinions do not define me. Nor do they define them. Hopefully, my kids will not be teased because of me or my weight again. But if they are, I hope they remember to politely stand up for themselves and not spew the negativity back.