I worry far too much about the damage I do to my daughter. Or maybe I don’t worry enough. Or maybe I worry in spite of the fact that the things I worry about won’t be the things she will spend her twenties (and thirties…maybe her fourties…even beyond?) carrying around with her and fighting to let go of and instead these will be some other thing I did to try to save her from myself. Or herself. Who knows? All I know is I want to protect her from it all.
An impossible task.
Her father and I spend lots of time discussing the language we use with her and around her. After some training at work he became a huge advocate of mindset thinking and took from this that I should ban the word clever (something I say all the time) in favour of telling her that she succeeds because she tries hard. I can see the sense here. However, we then spent the weekend using this phase to a ridiculous degree in regards to any minor success she had. Even she started to look at us as though we were crazy. And in secret I still told her what a clever girl she was. I can’t help myself. I think she needs to know.
But what good does all our worry and concern do? She learnt all too quickly to speak of selfies and emails and characters in shows I have never sat down with her to watch. It’s a big, bad world out there and she’s been taking it all in.
And then she said something shocking.
“Look at Mummy’s fat tummy!”
Aside from being a little offended (ok, I was carrying a few post holiday pounds), I instantly began to worry. Where had she learnt that word? Does she know what it really means?
Since becoming a mother, and in turn a feminist, I have worked hard (and evidently failed) to discuss people in regards to their value as a person rather than their external appearance. I have spent a lot of time (and money!) working on my own sense of self worth so I can be a positive role model as my daughter grows up.
I have VERY strong feelings about this particular F word.
Sadly, I know my partner does too.
And I know that knowing the word in itself is not the terrible thing. Being the person I am, upon hearing this I then ran my mind though the books I read with her; Fat Cat (a story about a large cat nobody realised is about to give birth) was the first title I came to before I’d even got to character names, traits, themes,messages or the other places I thought this word might be hiding.
Now you may think I am paranoid (and you are right, I am), but there was something in the way she said it that told me she knew that this word had the power to hurt. My mind raced and I pictured decades of scars. This was then reinforced when, whilst having a tantrum, she called her father fat too.
And this is why I worry.
Despite my care and concern about the words I use, she has picked up on something greater. She has seen the power and fear of this word elsewhere. Our bathroom scales. My sidewards glances into shop windows. And what else has she learnt whilst watching me ‘get ready’ each morning?
I can’t save her from the words, they are out there. She doesn’t even need to search.
But can I give her the tools, the thinking, to fight the fear when everything else suggests it is a battle that can’t be won?