Last night as I was tucking Daniel into bed, he told me he wanted to see how fat I was. I stood up because I wasn’t really sure where he was going with this, and he giggled and said, “you’re fat” and started patting my stomach. I told him that wasn’t nice to say and left the room.
I was crushed. But even more than the hurt and embarrassment I felt was my curiosity about what prompted that exchange. We are diligent about not talking about weight or body issues around him but maybe we aren’t as diligent as we thought. Was it something from school? “Fat” was one of his spelling words a few weeks ago.
It’s likely that he doesn’t really understand what he said and why it was hurtful. Now to figure out how to talk about it. My mother laments that once your child starts school, “they’re never really yours again,” a statement that is actually kind of horrible, but maybe it contains a grain of truth: the more they experience of the world, the less control you have; from that point on you are fighting to fit in these new experiences with your family’s value system and world view. And ours definitely does not include calling people fat!