Calories: Please Don't Talk About Them When You're Seven

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I've written before about how we tend to keep our kidlets a little sheltered.  They are five and seven and there's plenty of time for growing up. J. has been finding random videos of the girls when they were littler and they are so sweet and tiny, so precious and innocent, that they make me cry every time I watch them. He thinks it's weird that they make me cry, but they do. Almost to the point where it hurts to watch them.

They are only five and seven and I feel like I didn't get enough time with them when they were one or two or three or four. I want to go back in time and give their sweet baby heads one more smell.  I want to dress them in their puffy winter suits and tuck them into their strollers under warm cashmere blankets from Tata and go for a walk one more time. I want to hold them in my arms, fresh from a bath, and just kiss and kiss and kiss them. I miss them so much when I watch those videos. Maybe other mothers understand.

Now, Bunny can make her own breakfast. Take a shower all by herself. Text her papa on my phone. Remember things I ask her to tell her teacher. Make her bed more neatly than I can do it.

Wallie loves to help me cook. Asks me to turn the music louder. Writes me letters. Can finally wipe her own bum.

It's too much. Too fast.

(Except the wiping bum part. That's a welcome relief.  She even sprays the bathroom with a few quick bursts of air freshener when she's done which is also muchly appreciated.)

Recently the girls had friends over to play and as I was serving their dessert, one of the girls mentioned calories. I heard Bunny ask, "What's calories?" and I totally cringed inside. "There are good calories and bad calories and if you eat too many you get fat," her friend explained. "If you look on packages of food it will tell you how many calories something has. Then you'll know."

Bunny is very familiar with reading packages. We read packages together all the time at the grocery store but we focus on things like "iron" and "fiber."  We look to see how long the list of ingredients is.  If we can recognize any words. If something contains "high fructose corn syrup" or "sugar." She loves pointing out what's "gluten-free," since so many of her friends have allergies. One thing we don't look for is calories. My emphasis, especially because I have struggled with my weight for most of my adult life, has always been on health, and knowing what good, clean food is.

I don't want my seven-year-old to be counting calories. It's bad enough that because she's so tall, I've had endure adults commenting on her figure ever since kindergarten when she really sprouted. With parents who are 5'9" and 6'4", she's going to be a tall girl any way you slice it. I don't want her worrying if eating too many calories will make her "fat." Not in second grade. I want her to continue joyfully anticipating Saturdays, the day we walk to the farmer's market and choose our food for the week. I want her to continue wanting to go swimming or to practice yoga or to "work out" with her papa or to go jogging with me (a new habit--yes, I've been doing it for several months now so it's officially a habit).

Parenting is like a big square dance. You and your children are partners but every once in a while "Outside Influence" cuts in for a do-si-do or two.  You can allemande left and try to get back on course, but then you allemande right and suddenly your child is partnered with "Independence." Around and around the circle you go until finally your children are right back where they started, with you. Then you all go and have some punch and cookies and talk about the experience. Magical, yes, Dizzying, yes. Growing up, letting go. That, too. And I will, when it's time. Now is not the time. Not when my girls are still so small.

Hannah Montana. Kate Moss. Calories. I swear, you make me want to pick up and move to the mountains of Spain where you can't touch us. At least until Bunny and Wallie aren't so impressionable. Like when they're 40.


Stefania Pomponi Butler I blog: CityMama Kimchi Mamas MOMocrats


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