Tuesday, May 17, 2011

conversation with Emma

Here it is, the question I have been dreading.....way worse than "Mommy, how are babies made?". It happened last night......

Emma: mom, do you think I am overweight?

Me (calm outside, internally freaking): No. Not even a little. Why do you ask?

Emma: I dont know.....

Me: did somebody say you were overweight?

Emma: no, but.......alot of kids in my class weigh in the 40's or 50's and I weigh 75.

Me: well, you are taller than most of the kids in your class, so you would weigh more. Your weight is normal for your height. Plus, you are pretty muscular, and muscle weighs more.

Emma:but, you know how when I saw Dr. Paschen for my leg and they weighed me an it said 75?

Me: yep.

Emma: but the last time I was there it was like 74. So I gained weight.

Me: Well, you are growing. You will keep on growing and it will be normal for you to keep gaining weight and getting taller until you get to your adult size. That's how it works. Its ok.

Emma: hmmmm

Then the conversation was pretty much over and we talked about other stuff. I like to think that I satisfied her questions, but I worry that she is still thinking about it. I have forseen this because Emma seems to be developing ahead of her class; she is a head taller than most of the girls and wears clothing sized for kids a few years older than her. I also know that she gets alot of "education" about eating healthy and not being overweight and stuff (thank you Michelle Obama). I had lunch at my daughter's school the other day and heard Emma's little friends talk about which foods they weren't eating because they were fattening. Incidently, this conversation started because Emma and I were eating cheese. I seized the opportunity to tell the girls that it is ok to eat fat because fat is a vital nutrient and we need it to survive. I also told them that no one food would make them fat and that you can eat all foods as long as you eat a variety and not the same foods all the time. I think I blew their little minds.

I was thinking about myself at Emma's age. By nine, I had a really bad body image and felt like I looked different and my body was dfferent that other kids in my class. It was a sort of difference that felt bad. But it wasnt until later that I connected it to my weight. I dont even think that I knew my weight at that age. I didn't know anything about dieting either. My mom didn't diet or buy diet foods. We didn't watch alot of TV and didnt have women's magazines around. I didnt understand what calories were or how they related to my body or shape.
This is why I felt a knot in my stomache, thinking about this conversation with Emma. Not only has she noticed her weight, the number, but she has noticed a one pound weight gain enough to be concerned about it. I swear, the window of innocence in getting smaller and smaller. I wish she wasnt thinking about these things. Well who knows, maybe she is not thinking about them as much as I think she is and I am just spazzing out. What do you all think?

BTW, if you are my friend on FB, I posted a link to a news story about Sketcher's new Shape-ups shoes for girls as young as age 7! Notice they don't make them for boys *ahem*.


Sairs said...

Oh that must have been a hard coversation for you to have with Emma and heartbreaking too to hear her worry. I think you did awesome in explaining it to her and also talking to the girls at her school. Having Mum's like you around will really help Emma and her friends because this is something you know about and you can tell them good things about food. Poor kids, worrying so young.
*gentle hugs*

flaweddesign said...

this post brought tears to my eyes. poor emma. you handled it very well.

i'm concerned about the nutritional education children are receiving here in Canada too. my dr's son says when he has to 'go' to the bathroom that it's because he had too many calories so now he has poop. he just turned 7 and has aspergers and ADHD so his interpretation or understanding may be somewhat different from what other children in his class think. BUT before they eat breakfast their 11 year old son and the 7 year old have to review everything the family is eating and inform them of the calories and nutritional value of what they're eating because of these nutrition classes. i mean they don't HAVE to but it's a habit they've gotten into.

i know i had horrible body image when i was young starting when i was 7. i always weighed more than the other kids in my class. i passed 100lbs in elementary school and the others were still in the 70-90s.

it's scary about those shape ups too. horrible. the 'fight against obsesity' is going to backfire i suspect.

ok, enough rambling.

battleinmind said...

You handled this really well lovely. I know how hard these conversations are, my sister has had a few "am I fat?" moments recently, and that twisting feeling inside is horrible. We can only reassure them and keep building them up. You're doing a great job.

Angela E. Lackey said...

Poor Emma! But she is very lucky to have a mom like you - you handled so well. Many other moms might not have known what to say.

I'm afraid that this whole war on obesity - and I'm not saying obesity isn't a problem - is getting out of hand. I have heard of school districts here in Michigan that have banned parents from sending lunches with their kids because the homemade lunches might be too "fattening" or not nutritious enough. I'm afraid for the next generation. :(

I Hate to Weight said...

it's just overwhelming. you handled the conversation beautifully. perfect. and great, great work with the kids at school.

i do think that the War on Obesity might cause as many problems as it helps. and i think we need to look at WHY kids are getting obese -- what's going on emotionally?

great job, lisa!!!!

brie said...

oh, that conversation must have been SO hard. but can i just say that you handled it like a freaking amazing mom? i loved your answers and your reaction - you're such a great mom to your girls!

Keely said...

You did awesome lisa. I don't think I would have said anything different. And I'm so glad you spoke up to her classmates about the "fattening foods". that is so hard. I don't have kids, but even thinking about Phoenix thinking that gives me worries. You did excellent. And Emma (and Annie) are both beautiful, healthy girls.

Cammy said...

I would imagine that is a sort of heart-stopping moment for a mom who has had body issues herself. It sounds like you handled it fantastically, though. It is SO hard to filter all the healthy eating education stuff such that the message doesn't become "restriction is better!" And hopefully some of Emma's anxieties will fade as the other girls in her cohort start to catch up with her physically, that transition period is always awkward.

It's great that you also stepped up and did the explaining to her friends, kids are sponges at that age and I'm sure what you said was filed away in their brains, even if they didn't seem extremely receptive on the surface.

I totally agree with you about the sexism of the shape up shoes! Males across all age spans "get away" with carrying extra weight far more easily than females do.

One thing I always appreciated was that my mom was big on complimenting/praising me for things that I *did* more than appearance. It sounds like you already do a lot of that, just wanted to offer up an anecdote that it's a strategy that I wasn't quite aware of at the time but really value in retrospect! I think you handled this situation with Emma like a star, hang in there, you're an amazing mom and she's lucky to have you!

Nobody Girl said...

i think you handled it well. its sad that kids start worrying about this so young. i mean, seriously! what is wrong with society? i cant believe they make shape-ups for little kids. anyways, i hope emma takes her lessons from you and not what other little girls are saying.