Tag Archives: parenting

When my daughter was called “fat”

The neighbor kiddo called my daughter fat. They are both only 8-years-old. As a recovering anorexia patient, of course I was triggered. Thankfully my healthy voice is dominant right now, and this is how the conversation with my daughter unfolded:

“Hmm. How did it make you feel when she said that?” I asked.

*shrugs shoulders* “I don’t know,” Daughter said sheepishly. “Is it true? I feel like maybe it’s true. I don’t understand because she said she didn’t know why she said it. She said she ‘just felt like saying it to me.'”

“That sounds confusing,” I said.

“Yeah.”

I explained, “Her comment doesn’t make sense for two reasons. One, you aren’t fat, so the comment is wrong. It isn’t true. Number two, and most importantly, even if you did live in a larger body, your size has no bearing on who you are. You would still be the same creative, compassionate, funny, gracious person you are in the size you live in now. While your body can be lots of different sizes, your heart stays the same. So her effort to try to make you feel bad doesn’t even make sense. It’s confusing.”

“Why did she say it? She said she didn’t know why and she just felt like it.”

“Sometimes when people get a bad or hard feeling in their hearts,  like sad, mad, jealous, disappointed, hurt, or scared, they want to get rid of that bad feeling so they can feel good. One way people do that is to make someone around them feel bad. It’s like taking off the bad feeling and putting it on someone else to feel. It makes them feel better to see someone else feeling sad or mad or hurt or whatever the feeling. A lot of times, unfortunately, people don’t even know they’re doing this.

Your friend, rather than telling you she had a bad feeling in her own heart, tried to make you feel bad instead by calling you fat. My guess is she didn’t even realize she had a yucky feeling inside and that’s why she didn’t understand why she said it.”

“I wasn’t going to tell you what happened. But it was growing and growing in my chest and I thought it was going to explode outside of me!”

“Yes! That is a great explanation of feelings, Baby Girl. When we don’t talk about our feelings, for you the feelings were confusion and maybe hurt, they sit inside our bodies and they grow and grow until they have to come out. Your friend’s feelings exploded on you in the form of a hurtful comment, that ultimately didn’t make sense. It’s always better to talk about how you’re feeling in the moment so they don’t explode later.

You did the absolute right thing in telling me. Do you feel better?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. If this happens again, then come tell me and I’ll help you. I’ll talk to your friend and her mom. It’s not okay that she was trying to hurt you.”

“She might hate me if you talk to her.”

“Well, if she hates you because of her own actions, then that’s on her and she isn’t a good friend in the first place. Would you rather me not talk to her?”

“I want you to. I need help.”

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My daughter came to me a few days later and said it happened again. This little girl called my daughter fat and tried to cover it with “I’m only kidding” when my daughter tried to stand up for herself. As promised, I pulled this young girl aside and gently explained that her comment isn’t true and that it isn’t okay joke around about people’s body size because it’s hurtful.  It isn’t funny.

I texted her mother and let her know of the situation and my words to her daughter. We had a positive face-to-face conversation about it later. She confessed her daughter keeps all feelings inside despite her attempts to draw her daughter out; often this little girl comes off as just plain mean. I offered my understanding and support, mom-to-mom, friend-to-friend; she gave me permission to talk to her daughter anytime a situation warrants adult intervention.

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Here’s what I want you to know dear reader. Everything I said to my 8-year-old applies to any age, and any gender for that matter. Feelings are human and not age dependent; personal character is human not body size dependent.  Joking or making comments about body size doesn’t make sense at any age for any gender. So if anyone has ever insulted you about your body size, large or small, try to remember there is/was something negative growing inside of them and it’s exploding on to you.

In the spirit of grace and love, and if the situation lends itself, let them know their comment doesn’t make sense. See if you can navigate the conversation deeper, beyond body size, and pin point what’s really going on for the person who is trying to hurt you.

 

 

How to parent my daughter who's just like me

Haley Beach

Her emotions wear a cape, soaring her high out of reach where I can’t bring her back close to me. From far away she looks at me with helplessness, “Mom, help me. I don’t know what to do! I feel out of control! I am losing my mind!” We both wait for the wind of exhaustion to gently bring her down into sleep.  Rest restores her body and mind back into control.

She’s just like me. Except she’s only six-years-old and hasn’t figured out how to control her HaleyandMeemotional power. I’ve had 34 years of experience and seven years of therapy to help me reign in my emotional squalls, and even still it’s hard work to maneuver the stormy winds of anxiety, panic, and fear. My daughter, Haley, and I are two highly-anxious, perfectionist-peas in a pod.

Lately I’ve been at a complete loss as to how to parent a child like me. I spend a lot of energy either trying to soothe Haley’s emotional tirades or reacting with my own rants out of sheer frustration. I’ve taken her to the doctor to rule out physical ailments and am currently researching behavioral health support. Nothing feels right. I have been praying for guidance as to how to get my daughter the coping tools she needs now so she doesn’t end up like me later–feeling out of control and coping through disorder.

My friend Andee recently wrote a post called Just Like You–A Post for Mother’s Day, and she describes the curse-turned-to-blessing of having a daughter just like her. It was Andee’s insight into her daughter that has given me insight into mine. She describes her daughter, Annika, as one who “not only wears her emotions on her sleeve, but all the way down her maxi dress. She has no poker face and tells you exactly what she’s thinking. Early on, Annika’s tranquil mood turned to tantrum within seconds and rage would strike out of the blue.”

I can literally insert Haley’s name in for Annika’s. But rather than trying to “fix” her daughter’s emotional outbursts to avoid future demise, Andee offers a listening ear and reassuring love.

I realized I have spent so much energy on trying to fix Haley to avoid future angst, that I have lost a grip on who Haley is and what she needs right now. My daughter doesn’t need fixing. She needs love, understanding, and reassurance (just like I do). That’s how to parent a child like me. Hello, answer to prayer.

Yesterday, Haley was depressed, unfocused and exhausted. She was getting sassy in her tone with me and tipping into the rage-red zone. Taking my cue from Andee’s insight, I asked, “Did something happen at school today? What’s wrong?” Turns out she got stuck on top of the jungle gym at recess. She was scared to fall; her classmates were encouraging her, but it was embarrassing; she was worried she wouldn’t get down before the bell rang for class; and she was confused because she’d never been scared up there before.

Well, no wonder she was upset! For a six-year-old, getting stuck on top of the jungle gym makes for a rough day. I hugged her and affirmed her feelings and told her I loved her. What a scary and stressful experience! I wish I could say she magically felt better and we lived happily ever after the rest of the night. Her mood didn’t improve, and actually it got worse, but I kept my cool and just let her be how she needed to be. IN accepting her emotions toward her situation, I was better able to love on her despite her coldness toward me. I trust in time she’ll learn to trust me as I parent in love rather than “fixing.”

HaleyMath

I see, now, Haley is just like me– creative, generous, compassionate, funny, intelligent, and intuitive. She’s a thinker and a creator and an achiever. This week she’s written two books, crafted three songs, made me multiple presents and cards for Mother’s Day, encouraged her older brother, and has given her best in everything she’s done. Her future looks much brighter from this angle!

HaleySilly

Dear Peanut

Peanut8

My boy: lover of sports, SpongeBob Squarepants, Oregon Ducks, quesadillas, math, friendship, family, and the occasional princess movie–especially if there is a really cool bad guy.

Dear Peanut,

I know I am biased because I am your mother, but I have to say you are one amazing kiddo. You move around so much playing sports, playing with friends, riding your bike, and pestering your little sister that I don’t often get to stop and reflect on who you are and who I see you becoming to be.

When I think about you on this very special day, the first words I think of are happy, energetic, hands-on, quick, smart, and bright. You are caring and sensitive–which is sometimes hard to see because you are always on the move, but in your quieter moments, the soft and aware side of your heart shines. It is so beautiful, Peanut.

You have a sharp and inquisitive mind–always keep a wondering and seeking mind, Sean. You trend toward math and science (though you claim to “hate” math); I love how you ask a million questions about how the world operates and throw impossible math questions to Dad and me, like “What’s 1,567,654 divided by 75,000, 563 times the square root of 56?”  You are so gracious when we simply answer, “Probably some sort of decimal number.”  I think you are fascinated that with math you can pour out a string a of numbers in any sort of equation, and with a proper solving process, get a legitimate answer. You are keenly aware that numbers never end–infinite possibilities are intriguing and fun to chase.

You are a great big brother and confidently hold your status as older and Bigbrotherwiser. Though you are a bit impatient (that isn’t your fault, you get that from me), you enjoy teaching, leading, and loving your sister. You get annoyed when Haley hangs around too much, yet you miss her when she is gone. You claim to hate playing and/or watching anything with princesses, yet you oblige her wishes when you desire time with Haley. You fight and compete with each other to the point where  sometimes I wonder if you actually like each other, yet you two always amaze (and perplex me) when you find the space of acceptance and peace with one another.  She loves being around you because in her eyes, you are the coolest, safest, and most fun kid to hang around. I pray you two always remain close to one another.

This week, I became aware that you are moving into an age (8 years old today!) where you begin to decide who you want to be. You opened up to your dad the other day that you are being bullied on the baseball field. It broke our hearts and, of course, we wanted to oblige your request to skip camp practice to avoid the pain. Yet, our greater desire is to teach you how to be your best in the face of pain–because that is how you grow stronger and wiser and how you develop compassion for others who struggle.

You and I had the most wonderful conversation in the hallway–me in my pajamas and you bare down to your undershorts. With tears streaming down your face I told you to look at me–“Baseball is your passion. These guys who taunt you are trying to chase you away from what you love. If you don’t go today, those guys win. Mission accomplished for them. What’s our top rule in Taekwondo? Always believe in yourself. You go out on that field and show them you can’t be chased away–you’re there to play ball. When they are too busy poking fun at you, you are on the ball field getting better at your craft. Believe in yourself and don’t worry about these other guys. We are never to give up… if you don’t go today, you give up. And you aren’t a quitter–you are competitive and you want to win. You can’t win if you stay home today.”

“But I am only one person and there are like 10 of them. It’s really hard.”

“You’re darn straight it’s hard! And scary!” I told you the story of David and Goliath. Tiny little David stood up to a giant and knocked him down with nothing but a single stone square between the eyes. “With God you get superhuman power. It’s already inside of you; you have the power within you stand strong, even when you are scared, against one giant, 10 bullies, an army of 1000 men. Say a prayer when you step on to the field, God is standing at the plate with you.” This story stopped your tears and put a smile on your face. You decided to go to baseball camp that day. And you rocked it!

20140531_131534You’re 8 years old today, and I love being your mom. What I always hold the closest to my heart is somehow in your swirl of daily movement and activity, you manage to find random and countless moments to tell me that you love me. Please know how much that means to me; a mother can never hear that too many times from her kidlets.

Happy birthday, Peanut!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You were six today

Haley6birthday

 

I woke up and you were six years old today. Thinking back to the day you were born, I knew I was getting a gift, but I could never have imagined exactly how special you would be.

You are sweet and sassy and smart– clever with your words and emotions according to your audience and your need for expression.

You are intellectual, imaginative, and inquisitive–indulgent in your desires to learn; reading, writing, and reflecting back upon what you need to know.

You have an artist’s spirit– creative and spiritual and intuitive. Singing and dancing, creating and writing–through music and paint (and lots of glitter), pencil and paper you discover and express and wonder about life and all the lovely (and not so lovely) things it has to offer.

You have a heart for the Lord, a flowering relationship with Jesus, a trusting instinct for the Holy Spirit. You have sincere prayers, thoughtful insight to our loved ones lost, and a child-like understanding of God’s love I wish I had.

You are an observer, soaking in the thoughts and actions happening around you. (A ruminator like your mother.) Thinking, learning, contemplating, and threading life into the depths of your spirit, letting it simmer and rest until parts of it bubble up–ready for exploration and explanation.

You are bold and outspoken when you need to be–expressing injustice, advocacy, and love (oh, how much you love to love!), for the sake of others’ hearts.

Like any young girl, you desire to be older and more mature–taking pride in the moments you handle things on your own; acknowledging and indulging your growing independence.

Yet, you  are six years old. My heart swells because you still seek mommy. You desire the comfort and snuggles that comes with crawling into my lap; peace of mind that you are loved and adored; validation of who you are when I tell you my favorite things about you are your heart and your mind.

You’re my little girl, my Haleybugger–my love bug–my gift whom I love and honor and admire. Happy birthday to you!