“Sorry what?” I foolishly asked a toddler to repeat himself, knowing there was only a minuscule 12% chance that I had heard him incorrectly.
“Mom, you’re fat.” He said as he stared at me with big round eyes.
“That’s not nice! Speak kind words! You say, Mom, you’re beautiful.” I rambled back.
And now play that same conversation over in your mind at least seven times a day for the next two months. I tried all of the things to correct him, like alllll of the things. It was just his new terrible habit that I couldn’t get him to break.
Don’t you just love those terrible little habits that sneak up on you? My dear fingernails could tell a tale of habitual nail biting that they have endured for years. And then I tease them sometimes and stop a little, or all together… and then one suspenseful movie ruins it in under an hour. Bad habits. Yay. Easy to start, a real long pain to undo.
There have been so many moments in parenting small kids that I’m holding my head wondering, “Why are they doing thatttt?” and we often have review sessions that consist of, “Is this ever something we talk about in the elevator with strangers?”
I can’t control all of the weird things that come out of them, because they’re not me. Only I can control me, which as a parent this is a super frustrating realization… My job is to correct and guide and nudge along. I’m basically the gutter guards at the bowling alley saying, “Come on then, aim for the pins!”
One of the reasons I love having four boys though, is that the two big ones remind me daily that the two little ones are going to turn out great. It just takes time, and repetition, like so much repetition, so much repetition… BUT it will lead to big boys who turn into great men. And as great men do, one day the big brothers came to me and poured out their hearts.
“Mom, I think it’s our fault he keeps calling everyone fat. We used to call him the little fat guy… we didn’t know he was going to say it all the time, and yes we know it wasn’t nice. We didn’t mean to make things harder for you. Oops. And, we’re really sorry.”
Genuine remorse. Offered on their own free will. That’s a tough lesson for some kids to learn. It almost made all of this nonsense worth it.
The most insightful piece of parenting wisdom I ever got was, “With all phases, there is an end, before the next phase inevitably starts…”
So do you want to know how the ‘Call everybody fat phase’ ended? All of a sudden he changed his tune. Ever so slightly. After all of those weeks of guiding and correcting and nudging.
“That’s so nice! Thanks!”
“You’re not fat.”