I was a fat kid. There…I said it. The little boy version of the Newborn Identity dreaded having to take off his shirt for P.E., was shunned by girls at the Friday night dances, and fought tears as he smiled through endless fat jokes. My weight problem had a lot to do with the fact that my Mom was, and is, overweight.
My Mother has always been an overeater. To put it bluntly if food was booze she’d be an alcoholic. I remember back when I was about five she was a member of Weight Watchers, and they gave her a chart for her to graph her diet on. For some reason I desperately wanted to see that chart. I NEEDED to know what Mom weighed and how she was doing on her diet. Eventually one day she went into a store and left me in the car with her weight loss chart. I hurriedly opened it and saw that the graph, instead of having a red line going down (showing weight loss), had a red line going up. I was shocked as I saw the red line went up past the marker for 180, then 190, and 200. Even though I was just five I was shocked. I knew this wasn’t how diets were supposed to go. I put the card back and stared at my Transformers toy. Shortly thereafter my Mom quit Weight Watchers.
In hindsight it is pretty clear why I got fat. Every day after school my Mom would take us to McDonalds, so for a few years I would have in – addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner – a Quarter Pounder and fries meal around 3:15 every day. This, as you can imagine, was not good for the waist line. In all fairness to my Mom my Dad used to work about an hour away from home, and wouldn’t walk through our front door until well after eight. As a result my Mom had two very hungry and annoyed kids by 8:30 unless we had an after school snack. (Of course she could have given us a snack healthier than McDonalds…)
Anyway, the reason I bring all of this up is because I really want Maddie to be healthy and immune to being mocked by kids at school because of her jean size. I realize a lot of a people’s figure has to do with their genetics, but the eating habits they are raised with play a big a role as well.
Let me give you an example…
In junior high I had a fit friend who invited me over to play one day. Around four o’clock I said, “Dude…I am starving! Got any snacks?!” My friend nodded and lead me to the kitchen where he tossed me a tomato. I smiled and said, “Awesome. Now where is the bun, cheese, and burger?” My friend just stared at me. As it turned out in his family a tomato WAS a snack. Back then I was horrified to see my friend ravenously eat the tomato like it was a Carls’ Jr. five dollar burger (Mmmm…Carls’ Jr. Five Dollar Burgers) but now I am impressed. I don’t know if I want Maddie to be so healthy that she noshes on raw tomatoes, but I certainly don’t want her eating Mickey D’s every day after school.
Damn. This post isn’t funny at all. Oh well. And it’s about to get less funny…a couple years ago Heather and I were sitting at home when my Dad called and told us that my Mom had suffered a serious stroke as a result of her weight issues. I travelled up to see her and it was heartbreaking. She couldn’t even put two words together. She’d try to speak, then slap her head in frustration as tears welled in her eyes. I was frightened. Me, I am sort of introspective (believe it or not), and could stand never talking again. My Mom? Not so much. Her whole life is talking (and saying offensive things).
For the next year my Mom, for the first time in her life, was obsessive about eating healthy. She lost seventy pounds and, with the help of a physical/speech therapist, regained most of her ability to speak. It was like a miracle, but, unfortunately, my Mom, once she got better, started to eat poorly again. The stroke was a thing of the past, she would say at times to my horror. She’s since gained weight, and I fear she may have another stroke. My Dad’s brother had a devastating stroke seven years ago. He no longer can speak and spends his days in a wheel chair. Doctors warn my Mom that if she has another stroke she may end up like my uncle, but thus far she hasn’t seen the light. I hope she will.
Anyway, right now I am fifteen pounds overweight (I know this because the little work-out Nazi avatar on the Wii Fitness machine told me so), and I plan to lose all fifteen. I want to be an example for Maddie, and to show her the right way to eat. It’s not an issue as of now, especially since she is the skinniest baby around, but I hope that in the future she will look back on her childhood as a time when she learned good eating habits instead of bad ones.