Wednesday, October 15, 2014

She "ain't no size two" and she's perfect

A couple of weeks ago, Shorty pulled me into her room after getting dressed. She asked me weepily, “Mom, am I fat?” I calmly said, “No. Why do you ask?” That question has never been asked and the issue has never come up before. I thought maybe she was just outgrowing her clothes and needed new ones. After gently prodding her with more questions, very patiently on my part, I finally extricated the truth from her. A little boy, who used to be a good buddy, had called her fat. Hell no. We do not start body image issues in first grade. This was the last straw, the comment that finally made her cry a little, after stories of this kid making fun of her name (it's not really Shorty, by the way), how she does things, and whatever else. They sit close to each other in class so Shorty can only do her best to tolerate him. Then at lunch, he'll choose the seat next to hers and keep at it. He also tells on her, and on anyone and everyone, about anything under the sun. The breeze blows and the boy will tell on it, but I will refrain from using labels because I will not be part of the problem that this blog rant is about in the first place. I took the whole weekend to calm down so I don't do this:(click here), sans pregnancy or menopause. After all, the boy is only six and I didn't want to embarrass Shorty profusely with me being Furious Filipino mom in the hallway. She still has four more years to go.

Shorty is shapely, always has been and I have no problem with that. My beef is with the fact that the boy, in his six short years, has somehow already adopted a standard of what fat is and isn't. Surely he learned that from someone. I am horrified that we have already imposed our preconceptions on our kids at such a young age, albeit unknowingly. What are we teaching them and when? When they watch TV and look at pictures of men and women on magazines, they only see what they think they should look like. When I can't find clothes at Target that fit normally on my daughter because the industry-standard cut is skinny and super skinny, she'll think her body is not the right shape. When we make small, innocent comments on someone else's body size, how their clothes fit, and what we find pleasant to look at, they are listening. Even when we comment on things we don't like about our own bodies, they are listening. If we're not careful, they will start looking for their own flaws, so admire them thighs, moms. Those stretch marks are a badge of honor. Motherhood is damn hard work. And dads, guess what? You get to admire them too. Better believe it; this involves the whole family.

So what to do come Monday and she has to face the boy again? She wasn't looking forward to it, I could tell. Like always, her dad and I tell her not to be afraid to stand up for herself. I went as far as to quote Dumbledore telling Neville Longbottom that it is “even harder to stand up to your friends.” (I hope that Harry Potter reference didn't get lost on you. We've all read it even before we had kids right? No? Just me?) Here's where it got tricky. I told her I punched a boy in first grade for trying to kiss me. I spat on another for who-knows-what offense, I can't remember now. I have to say they were proud moments for me as a kid, but I shouldn't have presented it to my kid as an example or a solution, certainly not one worthy of praise. However, if she does punch a boy for calling her names (that's what this boy did wasn't it?) or if one were to try and kiss her without her permission, I know my husband and I would be high-fiving secretly behind her back, after admonishing her of course. Hands to yourself – it's kindergarten stuff. So here's how it went down with her. She told the boy “I hate you.” Not a good word in a place where the hallways are plastered with posters that declare the school is 'No place for hate.' I think Shorty chose well inspite of this. She kept her hands to herself and after we've told her countless times that 'hate' is a very strong word, I understand why she used it. She used it in hopes that it was strong enough ammo to make
the boy get off her back and mind his own business once and for all. In school, she and the boy were made to apologize to each other and at home, she lost her ipad privileges for a week. The lesson is twofold. She knows that there is a consequence to every action and the other more valuable of the two, is that she knows she is not a pushover. She can be nice, but she knows that she is strong and important. Don't mess with her.

The kids have since been shuffled around (thank you, Teach!) No more “friendship issues” as her teacher called it. Peace has been restored. I told Shorty that we are all built differently: color, shape, and size. Even our ears, eyes, and nose are shaped differently. Body size and shape only become problems if they affect your health. Otherwise, I told her, we should marvel at our own unique shape. It would be a very boring world if we all looked the same. Your jeans will never look the same on anyone else because there's only one you and that's something to celebrate. Meghan Trainor's song “All About that Bass” has long become a favorite. Although, I cringe everytime I hear the line, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” That's IF we let them, I might add, but don't get me started. That's a whole other blog post. She's just happy to sing along and I'm happy to gloss right over that one for now.