Saturday, November 27, 2010

Baby Fat

                My Dad is beginning to harp about my son’s weight. Mind you, my son is sixteen months old and, according to his growth chart, height-weight proportionate. He also leads a typically active toddler life.  He gets up at about nine-thirty. We change into his day clothes, have breakfast, go outside for about an hour or two depending on the weather and Elijah’s mood. During that time, he is running, exploring, and basically just moving. Then he comes in for lunch, takes a nap, and goes back outside. Sometimes he’ll take a second nap. Then, it’s time for dinner and playtime in the living room. At about eight he takes a bath and goes to bed. That’s pretty damn active if you ask me.
                As far as what he eats, he gets either a scrambled egg with cheese melted in or about half a cup of oatmeal with applesauce mixed in, and half a banana for breakfast. He usually doesn’t finish either the egg or oatmeal but sometimes he’ll eat a whole banana. Lunch is usually half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a dozen goldfish crackers, and maybe a tablespoon of yogurt-covered raisins, one of those toddler ravioli meals, or some soup. It’s rare that he finishes all of it unless we’ve been running all over. Dinner is whatever we’re having- usually a lean protein, vegetables, and some sort of grain. He has water bottles all over the house to keep his fluid intake up and usually has about twelve ounces of whole milk a day. Juice is a special treat. If we have a dessert or crackers, he’ll have a few bites of mine. He is never forced to eat anything nor clean his plate. I’d love to have a little veggie platter out for him during the day but the dog would eat more of it than Elijah would.
                So, what is there to complain about with a boy of proportionate size getting all the exercise he wants and being offered (but never forced) a fairly balanced diet? Yeah, he’s stocky, husky, or whatever the Hell you want to call it. Have you seen his family? Not a single one of us is “dainty.”
                What gets me the most, though, is that this is how it started with me, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let my son grow up feeling as bad about his weight as I did about mine. I remember my Mom commenting to my friend’s Mom, “I don’t know why she’s so big. She eats apples and drinks milk when her brothers go for candy and Kool-Aid” and her correcting me when I said kids at school were picking on me for being fat but I knew I was just big boned. She said “No, you’re fat.” Once when I wanted to go outside and play with my friends my Dad made me stay inside and do sit ups. How counter intuitive is that? My nickname in school was “Heifer” and some former in-laws seemed more content focusing on my waist size than anything I ever said. And guess what, people? I’m still fat! It seems to me that long before I ever gave a damn about my weight, other people were doing plenty of worrying for me.
                Elijah can’t go through life like that. I’m going to try to raise him to love the outdoors and sports. He’ll have a wide variety of foods to eat, most of which will be healthy. But I’m not going to force broccoli down his throat or demand twenty push-ups before he can play outside. Hopefully, he’ll be happy and healthy. A big part of that is teaching him to love himself. That’s going to be a hard thing to learn if his grandfather- a man he obviously loves very much- is going to start this weight nonsense.

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