Monday, November 18, 2013

Appearances

The other day, I was sitting by my daughter, and we had the opportunity to hear two sweet young girls sing. They were maybe . . . eight or nine years old. I was enjoying the song, wondering what I sounded like when I was that age, and wondering if any of my kids would ever want to sing like that in front of people.

Then, Jill leaned over to me and said, "That one girl is fat."

My knee-jerk response was, "Oh, she's not fat. She's just bigger." (She really wasn't fat. She just wasn't scrawny.)

Then I thought about it and added, "And we usually don't say when someone is fat."

Then I thought more and said, "There are plenty of nice things to mention about her, Jill. You could comment on her long blond hair, her beautiful smile, her bright eyes, her lovely voice, or how brave she is to sing in front of us."

And then I just stopped saying things, because I wasn't sure if I was saying the right things or just making it worse.

I am sure this will happen again though, so I need to be better prepared next time.

So, what do you think?

I don't want her to look at people and call them fat. But I also don't want to get her to stop calling people fat by making her think that being fat is something to be ashamed of or not talked about. Honestly though, she doesn't see many obese people, so perhaps she just mentioned it, because it was out of the norm and not because she wanted to make fun of the girl.

The deeper issue I worry about how to teach her is making sure she understands that body shape and size don't reflect worth. That one 5'5" woman might weigh 180 pounds, eat healthily, and exercise regularly, and another 5'5" woman might weigh 120 pounds, eat junk, and never exercise. And even then, whether you eat  junk food or healthy food, exercise or not, has nothing to do with how kind you are.

So much to teach these sweet children.

Jill is really observant. Well, maybe all four year olds are. She's my first child, so I don't know. Anyway, she is very observant.

As I've mentioned, the majority of our neighbors in Virginia are from India. About a month ago, Jill was coloring a picture of herself. There was a dot on her forehead between her eyes. She showed it to me and explained that it was "not a chicken pox—it was the Indian mark." She drew a bindi on herself.  I don't even really notice the bindis on my neighbors. They just use a small red dot, not jewels or anything big. But Jill had.

In other news, the kids and I are in Michigan staying with my parents. Jeff is still in Virginia, crashing at a coworker's house. We sublet our townhouse, because we were supposed to be gone by now. But we are not in Brazil and didn't have our house to live in. We have high hopes that we will be together in Brazil by December, but we'll see. We don't have any control over when we go, so it's just a waiting game! We've been apart since October 30. :( Jeff did come visit over Veterans' Day weekend. With all of his frequent flier miles, he only paid $5 to fly here from DC. Nice, eh? I am enjoying the time with my parents; I just wish I could have them and my husband. Ha. And the moon, please. ;)

Here are some somewhat recent pictures.

The first is a dress my parents bought while they were in Germany. 
The second is a dress Jeff bought while he was in Laos.
Looks like pink is popular no matter what country you're in!

Jill and Daniel wanted to pose as goats.
I haven't told them what the sign said. :)

7 comments:

  1. My kids like to point at people in wheelchairs and ask why they have to be in that chair. I never know what to say, because obviously I don't know exactly why that person is in that chair. I don't know how sensitive they are to their situation, I don't know how they want me to respond. Oh, did I mention they almost always ask within hearing of the person? Right. I don't think they've ever said anything about someone being fat though, so many things to worry about as a parent.

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    1. Someone in our Cincinnati Ward was in a wheelchair, so Jill is used to those, but your comment reminds me of my kids' reactions to the three times we have encountered adults who are their height. (I am not sure what term they prefer to be called.) But my kids are always so surprised to see people with that condition.

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  2. mimi, when we lived in japan mom ali and i walked into a restaurant and i pointed and said (loudly) "mommy! that man looks like a monkey!" i was about 4 :) lol i of course dont remember what mom might have said at the time, but i grew up pretty empathetic towards others and i think jill will too :) you are doing wonderfully!! xoxo susi

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    1. You did turn out very nicely and empathetic. :)

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    2. And maybe the people in the restaurant didn't understand your English. We can only hope. :)

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  3. I love the goats.

    It's definitely a hard thing to teach about diversity and decorum. When my children say rude things about people who look different, I just have to hope they (the different-looking person) understands about kids!

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  4. I don't have good suggestions about teaching children on appearances, but I do want that dress your parents bought!

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