— Beth, age 4, while holding a bite of french toast on the end of her fork above her head like a champion’s Olympic torch. She then devoured it and began cackling maniacally.
|[Scene:||Beth, age 4, is taking a bath with two toys -- a mermaid and a dinosaur]|
|Beth:||[holding up dinosaur] "Daddy, make the dinosaur talk to me."|
|Me:||"Okay." [prepares to use gravelly voice]|
|Me:||"'Amy'? The dinosaur is a girl?"|
|Beth:||"Of COURSE, Daddy."|
|Dinosaur:||"What's your name, little girl?"|
|Beth:||"My name is Beth! How are you today?"|
|Dinosaur:||"I'm feeling a little hungry. Do you have anything to eat? How about the mermaid?"|
|Beth:||"No, you don't want to eat the mermaid. She's a toy! She will just taste like plastic."|
|Dinosaur:||"How about a small child? You might be yummy."|
|Beth:||"Amy, you can't eat me. I am your owner. Toys never eat their owners. Even if they are hungry toy dinosaurs."|
|Dinosaur:||"Hmm. Well, what am I supposed to eat? The soap? This washcloth?"|
|Beth:||"You could eat my brother. I wouldn't miss him at all."|
|Me:||"Whoa. What happened to your box of Tic Tacs?!"|
|Luke:||[age 8] "I finished them."|
|Me:||"I can see that. But you only got them two days ago! How many are you eating at once?"|
|Luke:||"Only one or two."|
|Luke:||"Except on special occasions. Then I'll eat five or six at a time."|
|Me:||"How many 'special occasions' have you had in the last two days?"|
|Luke:||"Probably too many."|
Most of you have not met me in person. Those who have, know I struggle with my weight. It is something I’ve fought my whole life, especially when I was a kid, and so I have worked hard to not pass it on to my kids. As a result, my kids eat healthy. We’re not vegetarians but our diet has a high percentage vegetables and fruits.
My son loves veggies, and will even order salads at restaurants. He rarely gets soda, chips, ice cream, or other junk food. He runs and bikes around all day with the energy of a nuclear reactor, sweat pouring off of him. He loves sports. He gets maybe a half hour of TV or video games in any given day (and often none at all). And yet he’s pretty chunky, heavier than other kids. Not fat, but not skinny, and it’s enough that other kids occasionally insult him about it.
Compare that with another boy we know, of almost the exact same age. He practically inhales carbs and junk food and sugary drinks, and has spent most of his summer sitting on his butt in front of the TV, staring at his handheld video game system, or riding an electric sports car around his yard. He doesn’t like sports at all. He’s skinny as a rail.
In short: my boy eats healthy and gets a lot of exercise, and yet he fights his weight. Another boy eats poorly and barely exercises, and looks almost emaciated.
To me, the contrast is astounding, and makes me think: maybe genetics plays a bigger role than I thought. Maybe it hasn’t been [only] my fault for all these years. Sure, I’ve made some bad eating decisions in my life, but here’s a kid making all the right decisions and still struggling. I’m not going to tell him what I was told as a child: that his struggle is all his own fault. Instead: he can make it better or worse but it’s going to be there, to some extent, through no fault of his own. I wish someone had told me that.
So, parents: has there been anything about your children that made you examine your own childhood in a new light?
|Beth:||[age 4] "Mommy, can I please have some of your sandwich?"|
|Mom:||"Yes, you can have one bite." [hands Beth the sandwich, of which Beth takes a bite]|
|Beth:||"Here you go, Mommy." [hands back sandwich] "Can I please have a drink of your water?"|
|Mom:||"Yes, you can have a sip." [hands Beth her water thermos, from which Beth takes a sip]|
|Beth:||"Here you go, Mommy." [hands back thermos] "Thank you."|
|Mom:||"You're welcome! And you said that very nicely."|
|Beth:||"Okay, but when I was drinking, I also put some of your sandwich in your water."|
Luke almost always orders salads when we go out to dinner. Seriously. Even the last time he went to McDonald’s, he ordered a salad. “Happy Meals are for little kids,” he said, “and the toys are stupid.”
But the boy loves vegetables. This pic is from last night: a grilled chicken salad at a local pub. I wanted to order something really unhealthy for myself, but come on: am I gonna let a 7-year-old show me up?!