Monday, May 21, 2012

When your kids don't rock

Naval gazing at its most literal


Pretend you are at the post office. Your third trip to the PO of the day, fourth trip to the PO of the week, because the seemingly simple procedure of procuring a passport for your child has become the dingdang holiest of holies holy grail.

So you're already a bit crabby and hot and flat out resentful of the passport lady who feels the need to tell stories and chitchat about her relatives to the entire slow, unpaperworkcompleted, unheightmeasured family who is currently getting their passports procured. Even though it is apparent that you've been waiting for 45 minutes already with a bored eight year old and an antsy five year old in a completely barren, did I mention hot, PO.

And then your five year old looks at the (overweight) five year old from the other family, points at him, giggles, and says loudly,

"YOU'RE FAT!!!"

At this point, going postal is indeed a fantasy but not a viable option.

So.
Tell me.
What do you do then, mommas?
How would you handle that one?

47 comments:

  1. Oh, my six-year-old is in that stage of blurting out exactly that kind of thing! I've at least mostly gotten him to the point where he'll whisper it in my ear instead of yelling it out loud. It has made for good teaching points about those who are homeless (and why they may be smelly) and the importance of eating healthy and exercising. :-)

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  2. Wow, sounds like quite a day!! I don't know what I would do. Probably make some comment about the heat affecting his brain, and roll my eyes at the other family, before making him apologize. Then have a very firm conversation with him later about how to handle those observations in the future. How did you handle it? Hugs!

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  3. That has happened to me, but my child said it to an adult in a restroom. And another time a different child said it to a female relative ("Is that a baby in your belly or are you fat?")

    Good times.

    I don't know if I handled it properly, but both times, I put my hand over my child's mouth with a look of horror on my face. Then I looked the poor lady straight in the eye and apologized.

    And then when we were alone, I explained to my child(ren) that calling people fat (even if it is accurate) hurts their feelings. "Consider yourself warned. I don't ever want to hear that coming from your mouth again. Understood?"

    With all the talk about healthy eating and exercise at my house, it's bound to happen. But man, it stinks when it does.

    What did you do?

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  4. Well, seeing that I have four children and three of them are not overweight and one is and all four of them have the same diet, I'm more prone to focus on teaching our children to be knd to everyone and to apologize even when they don't mean to hurt someone's feelings. It is a good teaching point as mentioned before but so much about the importance of diet and exercise but how God makes all people and He does so with creative detail. Our society is way overboard on being skinny and if we think it doesn't affect how even little ones view themselves or others we are sadly mistaken.

    Even innocent comments can be hurtful and five years old is not too young to begin training our children to be kind in speech. Even if we don't mean to hurt someone's feelings, if we do we should apologize.

    Mom of four

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    1. My comment above should have read....it is a good teaching point but not so much about diet and exercise but about how God makes all people different.
      Mom of four

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  5. Oh, no! Thankfully my children and I speak Spanish to each other so the comments about people's yellow teeth from smoking, fat bellies, etc are lost on them usually but I know that doesn't help you. I don't know! I just feel that moments to my toes for you! What did the other mom do?

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    1. Also, there are also people like me, who may not 'look' like we know any other language but English, but we do. So that, coupled with Anonymous' comment above, should let you know you aren't off the hook!

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    2. Lighten up, mom of four. Dang.

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    3. Michelle, lighten up?! I'm with Mom of Four. Talking about someone in a language that you "think" they don't understand only teaches them that it's okay to judge people and talk about them, as long as they don't know about it. You're missing the point (further exemplified by your other comment left below).

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    4. Okay, I don't like the tone this thread is taking at all. There are some mommy blogs where the women bicker in the comments; this never has been one of them and I won't let it start now.

      At my house we have a recent rule, you can't talk about anyone but yourself. I think this is a good place to institute that rule. Now.

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    5. For the record, Gaby did not say that she liked it when her kids said embarrassing things in Spanish. She just said that it kept her out of hot water sometimes. Lay off Gaby.

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    6. I also have a sneaking suspicion that 'mom of four' and 'searching for truth' are the same person.

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    7. Which is why I just deleted all their comments.

      Mom of four, you bring an air of negativity to my blog. Please don't come back.

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    8. You rock, Missy! So glad you confronted it head-on! Some people just like drama, so they create it everywhere they go. Blech.

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  6. I'd whisper to the other child that my kid has three nipples, ans he's free to use that information as he sees fit.

    I'm sure that isn't the correct way to handle things, but it seems an appropriate response.

    Seriously, I am so thankful for what the doctors call an "accessory nipple" (or "full-on Chandler Bing nubbin") because it is the perfect teaching tool to remind my son that everybody is different and God doesn't make mistakes.

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  7. I'm sure you handled it well. When my kids comment on someone who is "different" I just say that God made everyone wonderful and unique! Then we go home and talk about appropriate words.

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  8. Oh no! That would be one hell of a teachable moment, in my book.

    Hope you at least got the passports in the end.

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  9. My three year old is great at stating the obvious everywhere we go and squealed, "Momma, he's BALD!" when we walked into a local restaurant. I looked at the man apologetically and quietly explained to her that pointing out how people look isn't nice. But I'm at a loss too - I don't know how to control hurtful words when they aren't really even meant to be hurtful.

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  10. We've had similar experiences and I usually let it go onsite by redirecting (especially if they're little-little) but with my five year old, I'd probably say, let's not say that and we'll talk about why in a minute. We have made a thing to not talk about people in front of them or point or stare (regardless of why). Not fool-proof but it helps. If they want to talk about someone later, then they might say something wildly inappropriate but I can usually redirect or model a better response or nuance to it. Usually. ;-)

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  11. WOW! Besides wanting the floor to swallow me whole. . . .I might say something to the effect of "I'm so glad God made us all different. I'm so glad He made us all not to look alike!" (Then look apologetically at the parents.)
    In the car or at home, I would talk to them separately and discuss how that comment could hurt someone's feelings and how we don't comment on how people look.

    Happy Parenting-the Adventure never ends!

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  12. Oh dear!
    They sure keep us humble, don't they?! :)

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  13. I can handle the questions about race and language--"Why does he have dark skin?" or "Mom, are you speaking English? They sound funny." But "Mom, his mom is fat" is one I still don't know how to handle. Appreciate the advice! Kids (and even some adults!) don't have that mental filter.

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  14. Ah, 5. The "thank you for stating the obvious" age. Anna's nickname right now is "Captain Obvious", a hand-me-down from when Abigail was that age.

    John's response: smack the kid in the back of the head and say "that's not nice." (That's what his parents did to him, and look how he turned out.)

    My (ideal) response: Anna, that word is not a nice word to use. It can hurt people's feelings. We don't use that word. (and a quick "I'm so sorry" to the parents/kid) (Later talk more about it... ie: if you feel the need to comment about the people around you, please do so in a whisper into my ear, God made people different sizes, etc.)

    My (actual) response: Anna! (gasping, shocked!) Then an "I'm sorry" to the other family.

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    1. Hah! That's hilarious--I totally identify with
      "My ideal response" and "my actual response"!

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  15. Cry, then move to a new state. Or maybe move to a new state and then cry. One of those two...

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  16. Hilarious in a terribly awful way...I am sorry you had to go through that. God bless you!

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  17. We had this problem today when one of the very sweet taxi drivers on the corner grabbed Abraham (as usual) to give him a hug-Abraham said "MOM, HE DOESN'T BRUSH HIS TEETH-LOOK, THEY ARE BLACK!" Oh Boy. I hope I had a language barrier helping me out on that one.
    Lyla

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  19. We avoid the word "fat" and instead choose the description my son came up with after watching Willy Wonka. "That boy is 'puffed up'". this is something you can recover from as oppose to "Fat".

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  20. That's why I don't take our kids in public any more than I have to.

    Oh I'm kidding. Maybe.

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  21. This reminds me of last night when my 4 year old got the "honesty award" at Awanas. In my heart, I knew the teacher meant it as the "say exactly what's on your mind award".

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  22. I wouldn't sweat this. He didn't mean it in a mean way. BOYS... I tell ya! I would however use address it in private. 'I know that kid was fat at the PO. Let's not just say it out loud, though.'

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  23. Oh. That's a tough one. My daughter has asked (loudly) about why people are in wheelchairs, missing limbs, etc. before. I love the response above about how God makes us all different and He is a creative God. That's kinda the route I went.

    I want to teach my children to be honest, but in the right way and at the right time. It's hard to preach honesty and "keeping some thoughts to yourself".

    As for the "fat" issue, that is also hard. Is it good (and even Biblical) to keep our bodies healthy? Absolutely. But at the same time, we do live in an obsessed society that goes WAY too far. I even find my 31 year old self spending lots of time feeling "less than" because I don't wear a size 4.

    I think it would do us a world of good to remember and teach our children 1 Samuel 16:7 "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."

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  24. I probably wouldn't have done the right thing, since I hadn't had time to think about all the possible reactions. But now, I think I would pick him up in my arms, say, "God made everybody different, and that's ok" And then apologize to the child and say I hope his feelings weren't hurt. I am not sure what I would do if my child KNEW it was disrespectful and did it anyway. I would probably make him look the child in the eye and apologize, asking the child to forgive him, and then have an appropriate consequence for my child once we got home. That's just a guess, though.

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  25. When my daughter was about 3, we were in the grocery store and saw a very tall, heavyset woman. My daughter happily announced, "Mommy, that is BIG mama! Did you see that BIG mama?" luckily, we were already turning down a different aisle but I did say "everyone is different sizes, your mommy is just very short" and tried to play it like she was talking just about the height.

    A few weeks later (same store), we see a lady who is extremely tiny and obviously had some health issues (and since I am barely over 5 feet, she really was teeny) and my daughter loudly announces "mommy, did you see that LITTLE mama?"

    I do try to consistently talk to my children a lot about how God makes us all different shapes and sizes--just like he makes our hair, eyes, and skin different. We need to eat healthy and take care of ourselves--but love each person for who God made them. Hard in a culture that is obsessed with thinness (not health) but yet is plagued by obesity.

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  26. Oh goodness-I've been there (or should I say- I is there, great English I know). We live in the deep south were fancy hats are still normal esp. on a Sunday afternoon. One day my daughter loudly announces to me 'Mom, that ladies' hat is so funny' Said lady was not amused (probably since her hat cost what my entire shoes collection costs) and so I smiled and said 'it's a beautiful hat-look at those purple feathers' and we moved on. Later we sat down and talked about our observations of people and made a rule that if she had something she wanted to say about another person she had to whisper it to me. She now whispers comments both wildly inappropriate and those that are very sweet but at least we keep a lid on the 'crazy'. Learning to 'say sorry' to someone we hurt is every bit as important tho. If we can't humble ourselves to one another how will we ever humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father? So we have also worked on that-it starts with us the parents (doesn't everything) sharing with our children when we have hurt someone and had to make it right. My daughter is not a humble soul and as God continues to work on her heart I can see her willingness to apologize grow. We are nowhere near the finish line and it's moments like these that make me want to never, ever, leave the house with my kids.
    I hope in the end you at least got the passports!

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  27. My 3 year old son loudly exclaimed in a store the other day, "That boy is missing his leg" (in reference to a boy of about 7 on crutches who was missing part of his leg). MORTIFIED. We had a conversation on the way home about hurting others feelings, but I'm not sure how much a 3 year old actually understands hurting others feelings (maybe more than I think..). Anyway, I'll be adding it to the category of "issues we talk about on a regular basis" (and adding to that discussion that we are wonderfully and uniquely made just as we are)...hopefully with a lot of prayer and repetition it'll sink in!!

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    1. Oh, and just prior to that asking if our server at a restaurant was a boy or girl and pointing out a teenage girl's "very red hair". He was on a kick! (yeah.....)

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  28. I've not yet had the embarrasing "you're fat!" catcall - but for several months after my Ethiopian son Megersa came home, our oldest (bio) would shout out to anyone, anywhere he saw that WAS brown -
    "Hey! Hey!! Are you brown? Why are you brown? Megersa is brown too!"
    Usually people just would smile awkwardly at him, or look at me. And then I'd say to him (and indirectly the person), "yes they are brown...and God makes people of all different colors and different sizes. Some are girls and some are boys. We don't need to shout out to them their differences though, okay buddy?"
    haha. good times though, right?
    sorta? ;)

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  29. I also try to notice when my kids are noticing differences even if they aren't saying anything out loud about it, and bring it up later so they can ask questions if they have them. I remember when Harper was about Ike's age there was a little girl at the Children's Museum who had some congenital differences in her arms and fingers. I told Harper in the car on the way home that I had noticed her noticing and asked if she had any questions. She.said, "That little girl had hands that looked like mittens!" and then we talked about how sometimes people look different than we expect, but that it's important to understand that they might not want to talk about it. Of course, as someone else pointed out, being overweight is a different issue, but I think at his age, I'd much rather err on the side of grace.

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  30. Tell the other kid he is indeed PHAT. Like cool, you know. And then bust out a rap. And breakdance.

    And then tell your kid in private that even though someone might be fat - they don't usually feel good about it and it is not polite to talk about it. Nah, I wouldn't do that.

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  31. My kids would NEVER do something like this.

    Ha! My four year old did this exact thing last year at swim lessons to an extremely obese woman. He pointed at her and said "Mommy, why is that lady so FAT?"

    I actually just apologized and then told my son in a scary voice to NEVER say anything about someone else in front of them unless it was the nicest thing they could imagine. All other questions, comments, and concerns should be voiced in complete private to me.

    I loathe these situations. What did you do?

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  32. What do you do when your favorite blogger stops posting??? That's what I really want to know! I thought my stupid feed reader thingie was broken again!

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  33. I kinda make it a point to not apologize for my kids but explain to them and have them apologize. I think the more it's treated as an awful thing that they said it the more it could hurt the person's feelings it was said to. There's also the potential that if the kid gets lots of "shocked" attention from it they may try to say shocking things again on purpose. I *try* not to overreact. I've quickly said (loud enough for the person plus my kids to hear) something like this, "Some people are tall, some are short, some are thinner, and some are bigger. God made us all lovely and 'fat' is a word that can be rude or hurt feelings so let's not use it. Thank you. Can you please apologize to the boy if it hurt his feelings?" Sorry you've had the flu. :( Hope you're back to entertain me more soon. ;)

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  34. Ooh I also make a point with my kids that if something's not nice to say in front of someone than it's just as unacceptable behind their back... or maybe worse. Try wrapping your own self around that one. Hardest thing ever to tame my tongue when just talking to my husband or friends about other people!!

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  35. Luckily I don't think the larger people in question heard my daughter's comments. In the moment, I usually say so the other person could hear if they needed to, "Some people are bigger and some people are smaller, but I don't want to talk about it." More discussion can happen later in the car, but that has been enough to help her become aware of what she can and can't talk about in front of people.

    A side note - I don't want to stop my kid from understanding different things... like why some are fat and some are thin, for example. She can talk to ME about it any time. And we can talk about how sometimes people want to be thin, but it's very hard for them. Just like it's hard for her to ___(obey, clean up the books, etc.) So, we don't talk about being fat, because maybe it will make them feel bad.

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