Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shapes and sizes

I constantly worry and fear that I’m doing all the wrong things as a mother. Every parent has embarrassing moments when their kid makes an inappropriate comment such as “look at that fat person.” Mine have done that. They also have asked if a person was a man or women, asked about a scar on someone’s face, wondered why two boys were kissing, why is her skin darker then mine, why is he in a wheel chair or they simply stare at the person who looks different. Kids are curious and some situations are new to them. These are all great teaching opportunities. I didn’t see these situations as opportunities at first; I saw it as my kid being rude and me being embarrassed. We have now had several conversations about different types of people. I grew up in a small town and never had any conversations with my parents about gay, black, or disabled people because there was none in town at the time. There were a few times when my kids saw two men or two women kissing. They stared but they would’ve stared at a heterosexual couple making out too. “Why are two boys kissing?” I would normally say, “I don’t know but stop watching them.” I finally realized maybe we should talk about gays and lesbians. They were ok with it. They liked the idea, to the point that when playing house they would play “two moms” instead of “mom and dad” or “mom and baby.” Had I taught my kids about lesbians earlier, we could’ve avoided many fights about who was going to be the mom. I once asked my daughter if she wanted to invite a girl to her birthday party. She answered “No, I don’t like her she’s black.” Normally, I would’ve snapped but I was too shocked to, considering we hang out with a lot of black people. I mentioned our friends and relatives that were coming to the party that are black. She said “I know but they are different.” We proceeded to talk about the girl’s personality and behaviors and realized she didn’t want to invite her because she simply didn’t like her. I told her it is ok to not like a person if there is a reason and she doesn’t have to be friends with everyone. We discussed many different races and skin tones as well as people’s accents after that. In fact, most of the children they hang out with are African American, Hispanic or Asian. Either way the comment shouldn't have been made. Of course, since I have weight issues and call myself fat, my children think just about everyone is fat. I guess if you are only about 30 pounds most people would seem rather large. Once, the kids were in a phase where they were obsessed with babies and asked just about everyone if they had a baby in their belly. It was so embarrassing. “People come in different shapes and sizes and don’t you ever call anyone fat again.” That’s my standard response. I still have a problem addressing the fat issue with my kids because I’m not exactly sure if I am completely ok with telling them that it is ok to be fat (by that I mean morbidly obese) since there are so many health risks involved. These are just a few examples of my curious kids and trying to find a response. I think it’s important to talk to kids in detail about things. I’m not sure if I’m giving to many details to my 4 and 5 year olds but either way I think it’s better than the standard “people come in all shapes and sizes.” Plus it’s best to fill them in know before they have a chance to think otherwise. I pray my kids never bully or judge others.

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