09 February 2011

Our Bodies, Our Selves

Four and Five have decided to give Tae Kwon Do another go. They haven't been to a lesson since the end of November, because the exertion was "too hard, and painful" for Four, and Five felt like he was being "yelled at" (he's a little anxious, but, fingers crossed, not yet pathological). But we got called in for a personal consult with Young Master, and after the talk, they decided to try again. Young Master is kind, soft-spoken, and wants them to succeed, so I hope it works out. Also, we found out there really isn't any way out of the ONE YEAR CONTRACT that I signed. Apparently, I didn't read the fine print. Because I would never commit Four to one year of anything. But the lessons could be good for him, because he has been talking about getting in better shape.

This is a difficult topic to navigate. The boys all have different body shapes, and most of them started life with extra rolls. Two was my most luscious baby, and now he's 5'11" of stretched sinew. Three goes through periods of expansion and contraction, as he grows ever upward. Five was the only one born with no extra meat. He looked like a plucked, organic chicken: pinkish, bony, and assless.  In stark contrast, Four is very curvy, with a definite gluteous maximus. And he has gained quite a bit of weight because of medication.

We'll talk pharmaceuticals another day. Today I am negotiating the fine line between preaching body acceptance, and encouraging body transformation. I'm not sure if Four initiated this healthy quest on his own, or if it was instigated by Chicken Butt's liberal use of the word "chubby."  Although I routinely remind the pack that they are not to open their mouths except to be kind or helpful, that is not always the case when they are out of glaring distance.

I want the boys to like themselves, and their bodies. But they are more conscious of their looks than I realized. Maybe not on the same level as teenage girls, but male beauty propaganda is increasing. Two would like better abs, and I won't even go into how many times I've been asked, by one or the other,"When will I get armpit/facial hair/a larger penis/rid of this acne?" So, I tell Four that his body is just fine the way it is, but if he wants to be more healthy, then we can eat better and exercise. But I worry about his odds for success, because he's batttling chemistry.

He has asked to learn how to jump rope, and do sit-ups. He may be on medication for many more years, so I've decided that, more important than losing the weight, is his decision to try. He's caring for himself, and taking control of an aspect of his life. And that will serve him well in the long run.


  1. Anonymous9.2.11

    They do that thing where they get tall then get wide then get tall then get wide again don't they? Poor babies, it's just tough.
    Yes you are correct about the unkind words. The most important reminder is "don't hurt- don't hurt someone's feelings, don't hurt someone's body, don't hurt someone's stuff." And that "someone" includes you!
    Self love is a very difficult lesson. Still.

  2. The "chubby" comment reminds me... My oldest [boy, born skinny, now at 17 has taken on some "dough-boy" qualities], called the middle child [girl, unlike the boys, was always solidly built] FAT one day. I think they were 12 & 10 at the time. After being scolded and reminded to never call your sister FAT, he revised his assessment: "Ok, STURDY." And BTW, girl now is thinner & more active than boy at this stage in their lives.

    Lately, though, I've been surprised to notice that oldest boy has become more conscious of the crap he typically eats and is making small changes in his diet. He admitted he bravely tried a banana the other day. And lived to tell about it!

  3. @Chrysanthe - Your oldest is much braver than I am. I was in my late twenties before I voluntarily ate a banana. And I've never felt the need to do it again! But it's great that your son is exploring other options. Every additional smart decision will help.

    @ Megan - Yay for the little guys trying Tae Kwon Do again! I hope it takes. Or at least provides a month or two of healthy diversion for one or both of them. Good luck!

  4. @Chrysanthe - I'm with Janet, a raw banana has not crossed my lips in living memory. At least not voluntarily. Sometimes evil people hide them among more tasty things.

    @Megan - Is there anything more difficult than finding the balance between healthy choices and self-hatred? The best thing, I guess, is to encourage the effort rather than the result, I guess. Hopefully, Young Master can make Tae Kwon Do fun.

  5. @Janet, I'm with ya on the bananas. Unless they're baked into bread or fluffed into pudding.

    @Megan, hope the tae kwon do works out for the kiddos. And I'm giggling because my thought when you mentioned being asked "when will I get a bigger penis?" was to hand the kid a banana.

  6. @lora: I would, but they'd just shoot a brother with it. Because they're busy fashioning weapons when their hands aren't on their "guns".

  7. Yes, sadly body awareness starts younger and younger. My children are active and involved in organized sports. The boys more active than my daughter who would like to think TV watching is a sport. My middle child, age 9 always comments on his six pack and his pipes. His sister, likes to remind him that “it is not a six pack, it is a four pack and two ribs” and his younger brother, likes to refer to his brother’s “pipes” as “worms.”

  8. @Stormin: I can introduce the daughter to Four, who is the most active TV watcher I've ever seen. It's the ADHD. He participates in every show, so the ones with martial arts (Power Rangers), or just plain running (say, Scooby-Doo), are a real workout. Wii Fit has nothing on him.

  9. Ya the image stuff is catching up with boys now. Sounds like you're drawing a good line.

  10. I was offered a "weight class" for my three year old. She's in the 82nd percentile for her weight. She's also in the 90th percentile for her height. She's sturdy and muscular. I was highly annoyed by the pediatrician's offer; standard for any child in the 80th percentile or above. She's already on a gfcfsf, extremely low sugar diet. I'm not sure what more I can take out. AND she's extremely active (we got the ADHD along with the ASD - cheaper as a package). My point being that it's getting harder to promote a good self-image when we're putting three year olds in weight loss classes. Keep up the good fight!

  11. @Sarah: That's interesting. Three was always off the charts in both height and weight. When he turned five they projected he would eventually be 6'4". I'm 5'2" and the Captain is 5'8". We don't know where he came from, and they never suggested he go on a diet.

    ASD is new terminology for me, but I understand we are moving away from PDD (official diagnosis for One, along with ADD), and Asperger Syndrome (official dx for Four, along with ADHD). We have lots of food dislikes here, sensitivity to smell, etc. so I am daunted by the idea of subtracting anything that gets eaten without complaint. So, good for you, for braving gfcfsf territory. I don't know if I could manage it!

  12. WOW-- Banana haters unite! Too funny!
    He's found that they're pretty good with this chocolate peanut butter stuff I got – I think its called "chocolate dreams." So we're not venturing too far away from the sweet tooth, as you can see.

    Eggs, however, totally gross him out. His recent comment: "Did you ever really look at one? And who decided it would be a good idea to eat one?"

  13. I just had no idea that there was such a cabal of banana haters. Who in the world hates bananas? They're America's most popular fruit. They're the perfect food. Even my boys eat them, and Boy 1 eats only about six or seven things, total. I am shocked! And to think I've known two of you banana haters nearly my whole life.


Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.