Having just read “I’m a Dietician, and My Toddler is Obese” I respond with “I am a Second Time Mom to Obese Toddlers, They Stretch Out.”
I do my best to feed my kids foods that grew from dirt that wasn’t smothered in chemicals. I buy my eggs, meat and dairy from local farmers as much as possible, I spend a little more on organic, I monitor juice intake and basically do the best I can when it comes to feeding little picky dictators that would much rather have carbs with a side of macaroni-shaped carbs for dinner every night. The bigger one? She’s become slightly less adventurous in her old age — she’ll still eat what I make, but she is very rarely happy about it. We’ve had lots of discussions lately about “Sometimes eating food is just about staying healthy and alive, not pure enjoyment” as she pokes at broccoli and claims that almonds don’t taste like anything.
The little one on the other hand, she’s down for anything. Weird vegetables other kids won’t eat? SURE! Plain steel cut oats for breakfast? YOU BETCHA! And yet by the numbers she would be considered “obese” at 36 pounds, just shy of her third birthday. Yes, there are times when I notice an older child who is probably also considered obese and wonder at what point I will have to admit that I’m officially dealing with a legitimately overweight child, but then I’m reminded that the giant, long-legged 9-year-old complaining about spinach behind me used to be a chubby toddler, too.
It’s hard not to worry about your kids, about how badly you’re screwing them up by feeding them canned peaches instead of fresh in the dead of winter when you have pneumonia and absolutely no will to live. It’s what we do as parents — we assume we’ve failed before our kids are even out of diapers. My husband and I are not huge people, we do not come from terribly unhealthy families, but we are both fairly short and sturdy.
Our kids come out the same, sturdy.
Somewhere in the last five years Addie has moved on from her sturdy roots and fallen straight into Great Dane puppy territory. The child is all legs and arms with this narrow little torso to control all of it. Stack her against other kids her age now and she’s always the shortest — sorry about those genetics, kid. Cody and I always joked that our kids would make amazing gymnasts, and guess what? THEY DO!
We don’t talk about diets and weight around this house, we eat the foods we love, we deal with the foods we may not love but have to eat to stay healthy and we keep moving. Both my husband and I hope that just by keeping our kids active they will grow up always wanting to be active and knowing the benefits of strength and endurance. It’s why I signed my “obese” toddler up for a 100 meter dash, not because she’s obese, but because I want her to always love finding ways to move her body.
I’m celebrating Vivi’s thigh rolls, wrist folds and dimpled knees because I know they will be gone all too soon. She will stretch and grow just like her sister, just like all kids do with proper care and nutrition. With time she will grow into the exact body she was meant to have, perhaps it will be curvier than her sister, perhaps she will be even more slender. Just because I know Vivi will someday outgrow her baby fat doesn’t release me of my responsibility to care for her and continue to feed her the best foods I can get my hands on.
What should be released is the guilt that chubby toddlers are somehow inherently doomed to a life of obesity and ill-health.
To dietician Heather, and all the other moms out there carting around toddlers with chunky thighs and rubberband wrists — love them, feed them well and let them run free, for one day you will be mourning the loss of your squishy little baby as you share a bed with a giant child who is all elbows, angles and knees in your back.
Queen size bed y’all. QUEEN SIZE.