When you have kids old enough to listen to (and understand) every word you say, you have to be careful. I’ve written before about how the way I communicate with my husband has changed as our kids have gotten older and mostly, we are cognizant and watch our mouths. However, kids can be sneaky and sometimes, they overhear things they should not. That is exactly what happened in my house this past weekend when my daughter overheard me telling my husband I wanted to lose 10 pounds. And of course, I had some explaining to do.
We have made a habit to not discuss our bodies in terms of weight in front of our kids. They know we have a scale and love to weigh themselves but beyond that, we don’t attach any particular significance to the numbers. My husband and I are both avid gym goers and generally eat well and we do make an effort to discuss our healthy choices with the kids. When we talk about food, it’s about vitamins and protein and how it gives us energy to play and do well in school. When we talk about exercise, we explain how their hearts work and that exercise helps them build strong muscles and bones. We have made every effort to never talk negatively about our bodies in front of them but that all went to shit yesterday afternoon.
She is kind of stealthy, my daughter. She has a habit of creeping up on us and before we know it, she’s heard the last five minutes of our conversation without us any the wiser. I was standing at the kitchen counter with my husband yesterday casually discussing the fact that we both wanted to drop a few pounds in advance of summer. Nothing crazy, just enough to feel a bit better in our bathing suits and a little more energetic for our summer activities of hiking and kayaking. Of course, the part my daughter latched on to was the part where I said “I want to drop 10 pounds” and boy, did she have questions.
I guess it’s a testament to the fact that so far, we’ve never let them hear us speak negatively about our weights that she was as curious and fascinated as she was. She asked me why I wanted to lose weight and if I thought I was “fat”. Yikes. I sat her down and did my best to back-pedal a little while also letting her know that sometimes, adults want to lose a little weight for their own health and that it’s ok. She is only seven so I attempted to keep it in terms she would grasp. I explained that there is a such thing as a “healthy” weight range for a person and that sometimes, people need to change how they eat and exercise to achieve it. I told her that I still feel beautiful and how my wanting to lose weight has more to do with how I feel than how I look (a total lie, but what could I say?) and although she seemed satisfied after our talk, I’m still left with a bad taste afterward and wondering if I handled it properly.
I know I can’t shield her forever from the fact that people wanting to lose weight is perfectly normal and that sometimes, it is also totally necessary for health purposes but I know the way I view myself means a great deal to her now and will for years to come. We have already talked about why I wear make-up (for fun!) and that changing my appearance has nothing to do with my being unhappy with how I look but this seems like a much bigger deal. Obviously, I plan to be more careful with my words going forward but I hope I haven’t planted any seeds that I won’t be able to dig back up.