My middle and most sensitive child matter-of-factly told me a boy called her fat yesterday. He whispered to his friend and then his friend told her. Thanks, kid. And it happened in P.E. even! How cliche. I don’t remember struggling with body-image until I was in high school; I had just quit track and was working at Taco Bell (I don’t think I need to link to the calories!). I remember feeling uncomfortable in my clothes and not like myself. The fact that this is happening in 2nd grade is so frustrating.

My first inclination is to call the teacher and demand the kid get fired. But then I accessed my years of personal experience with gossip and realized the best thing is for Makayla, not her mom, to confront the situation. I’ve emailed her teacher, asking her to facilitate a time and space for Mak to confront the boy. I want her to simply say, “I know what you said about me and it is hurtful.” My ultimate feeling is that everyone gets sucked into gossip at some time in their life and getting “caught” and seeing the consequences unfold hopefully makes a strong impression.

I don’t judge the kid or the parents. I have no doubt my kids have been or will be on the
“I’m sorry” end of gossip, many times. Kids learn from watching those around them but it’s possible his parents have never called someone fat. I imagine he has witnessed his mom or dad talk about their body negatively. Implying that fat, extra weight or poor eating is bad can cause them to condemn anyone they view as having this “problem.” I’m guilty of openly talking about my issues with weight and my feelings on dieting. I know this is leaving an impression on them and either has or will likely affect their feelings and ideas of weight.

One final note: There is a small part of me that wants to fix this for the future. Encourage more water, vegetables, and encouragement. However, I resist. Completely. Offering any evidence that I agree, I believe, would reproduce the same hurt feelings in the gym but deeper. The best move is to model a healthy body-perspective and take care of myself. Man, parenting is hard! Hope everyone is having a great week.

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