No, not that F word. And not that one either (although in my opinion, the first is used way too much and the second should never be used at all). The F Word I’m talking about is equally ugly, inappropriate and hurtful. And my five-year-old used it this week.
“Mommy, my friend Ryan* is fat.”
I dropped my kitchen knife in shock. “Does it matter if he’s fat?”
“Isn’t he fun to play with? Don’t you like having him around?”
“Then why do you care what he looks like?”
Conversations like that scare me. I don’t want to raise tomorrow’s shallow jerk. I want my son to be kind and sensitive. I want him to pick friends because they have common interests (something besides sports and video games). I want him to date girls who are something besides pretty.
And raising that kid starts with me.
My little boy has heard the word “fat” out of my mouth way more than I’d like to admit. Not because I poke fun at overweight people, but because I’m hard on myself.
Appearance has always been an issue for me. I like to look good…I can probably count the number of times I’ve left the house without makeup. Please don’t hate me for being vain. I’m being brutally honest here. I know I worry too much about other people’s opinions. My kids are going to be the same way unless I can change.
I’m not really sure how to be different. This behavior has had thirty years of conditioning. The only thing I can think to do is watch how I judge and speak about myself…and let my little girl go without a bow once in a while and let my son go an extra week without a hair cut.
And of course, be a good example when it comes to people who look, think or act differently.
The old Sunday school song has it right. “Kindness begins with me.”
*Name has been changed.