Not because I am cruel. The main reason is I remember what it was like to grow up as the little fat girl. Always being bigger than everyone is your class. Not running as fast as everyone. Being teased. Your mom having to buy your clothes in the ladies section, and then hemming your pants at home. Remember, they didn't carry husky or plus size lines for kids then.
I didn't want to put that on my children.
I've seen some fat kids. Cellulite on their bellies. Red, sweaty faces while they do the simplest of tasks, pulling down their tight shirts to cover their stomachs. So what I continually strive to do is make sure the chil'rens have a well-balanced diet. We eat fresh food, lots of fruit and water, very little snack/processed/junk food in the house. If we do have cake, sugary cereals, pop tarts, frozen pizza, its definitely a treat. But their diet consists mainly of home-cooked food.
What can I say? I have four boys who are very rambunctious. They love to skate, ride bikes, wrestle on the trampoline. They work hard, they play hard. Never in a million years did I expect one to pack on a little extra weight.
Over the past year, I began to notice he was developing a little gut. His face is a little rounder. His love handles feel like baby walrus skin. At least, what I believe baby walrus skin would feel like, anyway.
By no means is he "fat". He still wears the same size Noah does (who is skinny), only he doesn't need a belt to keep his pants from falling down. He is still active. I don't need to shop in the husky department. You see, he's on the precipice of fat.
But I've discovered myself doing something bad.
I've become my parents.
I nag him about his food choices (lots of carbs--bread and white rice are his faves). I police his portions when his skinny brothers get thirds and sometimes fourths. I huff over his lack of physical activity...his favorite thing to do is read, draw and watch TV (don't know where he got that from). I ride him for his overall slovenliness (he is a bit lackadaisical with the brush and deodorant). Yeh, I'll admit to calling heifer, chunky, husky, slob (he is messy, too), cochino. I know, mean and horrible mother, right?
And the kid's not even fat.
So why put this complex on the poor child?
All he has to do is watch his portions, get a little more active and I believe when puberty hits, he'll grow out of his thickness and he'll be okay (like his Uncle Josh, who also went through a stage of possessing baby walrus skin). But it won't be that easy if he sees himself as fat.
I know this.
But that child-parent cycle is vicious, yo.
A couple of weeks ago, Michael took Diego to the gym with him and Noah. He was totally excited. They got to play racquetball and lift free weights. All at six in the morning. When they came home, Diego breathlessly told me how much he weighed.
Which is not alot. He is turning 11 soon, he wears a size 8 shoe. He's gonna be a big boy. Noah weighs about 93 lbs.
I got this very unpleasant flashback. A fat kid flashback, if you will.
I was in the fifth grade. The Fall brought with it some boobs, hips and a bubble butt for me. Sigh. Not exactly a welcome thing when you're in a classroom with little girls that still wore pigtails and tights under their dresses. My Dad picked us up and took us to the doctor's office to get a physical exam. When the nurse put me on the scale, I cringed.
Scales were to be avoided at all costs.
Does anyone remember the President's Physical Fitness days in elementary school? A whole day devoted to physical activities, ribbons and prizes etc. Not exactly a fun day to a girl who enjoyed drawing for hours or staring into the trees, happily fantasizing about life and whatnot. I vividly recall my teacher lining us up for the nurse's office. There, they would measure our height and weigh us, so they could group all the students accordingly on Physical Fitness days.
Every year I was grouped with Pam Ulufanua. She was Samoan.
But imagine that. Waltzing right up to the scale with your entire class standing right behind you. I remember having stomach problems days before this would take place. It was awful. I even tried to stay home, pretending I was sick. I can still feel the dread, like if it was yesterday.
So that day at the doctor's office with my Dad, I was mortified to discover I weighed 103 lbs.
To be a developing girl and be over the century mark. It wasn't a good thing. I was so embarrassed. I anticipated the teasing. I hung my head for the rest of the afternoon.
To make matters worse, my Dad decided to announce to everyone the number on the scale. And for several weeks, my nickname was "103". My brother called me that. My uncles called me that. I hated it.
So when Diego told me that he weighed 104, it just brought back a flood of memories. And I vowed I would not tease him about his extra weight. Sometimes I forget, but the rest of the chil'rens remind me. Remember, mama, when you were teased and it made you feel bad?
Yesterday, Noah and Diego were up at 5 am. Crazy kids. When they got back from the gym, Diego proudly announced that he weighed 102 pounds. I was proud of him, happy that he was going to crack the code.
But it still stung, how aware he was of the number on the scale.
I can't help but think its my fault. No matter how hard you try to not make the same mistakes your parents did...it comes back in some form. And what's worse, you feel powerless to stop it. But I think when you become aware of it, you acquire the tools to combat it. Diego has his father, his brothers, his sisters who will support him even when his mama is still in her own fat funk.
I'm relieved to think of it.
This is Diego at two years old. This is how I would often find him, laid out and watching Sesame Street. I should have known then. LOL
Last month, upon his return from camp (which explains his overall crusty appearance). This is also testimony that you can't get a normal picture from this child.