The Mouth of Babes
When my daughter was three and my son was one, the kids would often have play-school together with some co-workers’ kids. One couple had three sons and we would sometimes exchange the care of our kids so they could get some time off.
After one such evening, we returned to pick up our kids. I noticed the wife seemed a bit intense or exasperated and I was worried. Had my kids acted up?
I casually asked how everything went.
“Your daughter really needs to learn some manners. After everything we did for her, I can’t believe what she said to me.”
Now I was really worried. What could a three-year-old say that was so offensive to an experienced mother?
“She said I had a big tummy!”
Now it was clear. I tried to suppress my laughter. This woman was perpetually commenting on the “fact” that she was overweight. In actuality, grading on the curve, she wasn’t more than a bit chubby. She was, however, very sensitive about her weight and if anyone even agreed with her self-deprecatory comments, they’d be on her blacklist.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I apologized profusely and wholeheartedly for my daughter, who was already sleeping, otherwise I would have had her apologize as well.
The next day, my daughter saw me in my workout outfit, which had a very short top. “Chubby tummy,” she said, and started giggling.
I laughed too, because (at the time) my tummy was more concave than convex. I realized she must have picked the phrase up from somewhere, maybe the three brothers she had been hanging out with the previous evening; she was just repeating something she had heard. I explained to her that it isn’t so nice to draw attention to certain parts of people, such as their weight, or if they wear glasses or walk funny. I’m not sure if she understood completely.
I also wondered if I should let my co-worker know that my daughter had called me chubby as well.
I decided against it.
If we can’t take what comes “out of the mouths of babes” with a grain of salt and a smile, maybe a subscription to the gym wouldn’t be a bad idea.
[Image by © LWA-Sharie Kennedy/zefa/Corbis]