If the scientists of the world came together in the lab and worked for years to create a kind of sponge-mirror, both perfectly absorbing and reflective, they would, at the end of it all, have wasted their time, because it would have been far quicker to just have a child. Any parent will tell you that their children are both sponge and mirror, soaking up everything around them, even when you would prefer that they didn’t, and then reflecting right back at you, especially at moments when you wish that they wouldn’t.
I am fat. Not hugely, obesely, can’t get out of my chair, need two seats on the airplane fat, but significantly overweight nonetheless. In fact I am, at this exact moment, more than 50 pounds over my medically recommended weight. This has not stopped me from doing things, running around with my kids, walking and jogging, and otherwise living my life as I would like to live it (I’m still young-ish!), but I certainly notice it when I look in the mirror. In fact, the biggest detrimental side-effect of my excess poundage is that I do not like the way I look much of the time. Sure, I’m devilishly handsome with rugged movie star good looks and a thinning hairline, but all of those quality features are often negated in my mind by the large gut looming underneath them, or the surplus face squishing out from around my beard.
So I see myself as “too fat,” or at least “fatter than I would like to be,” but not so fat that I take it very seriously. It is something for me to complain about once in a while, rather than a problem to be solved. And boy am I good at complaining! I will walk around the house making snide remarks about myself to the dog, or to my wife (who always tells me I look fine, because she is the best), and often within earshot of my children. Until it happened.
Edward was wandering around with his shirt off the other day, and he stuck his little 4-year-old tummy out and declared “I think I’m getting too fat!” He patted his stomach with a grin, and I knew that he was just imitating me, and not actually worrying about his weight, but it horrified me nonetheless. The thought that either of my children would have any sort of fear or concern about their beautiful, perfect bodies was sickening to me. And the idea that I could potentially be the cause of such insecurities? Unsettling. Unthinkable. Unacceptable.
So now I am trying very hard to not make negative comments about my appearance, even in jest. I look fine, and if I really wanted to lose a bunch of weight, I could do it. I know this. Less Coke, more dog walking. Yeah, it would be hard work, and yeah it would involve going outside, which is why I have not done anything physical for the past three months, but I could do it. So there is no need to bemoan my status, or put myself down in front of the kids. They are watching and listening and taking their cues from me, and I am in a unique position to fill them up with whatever I want them to be. Maybe I’ll try positive and happy from now on. I think I’ll thank me for it later.