The 2.3 miles that separate my house from daycare are not marked by traffic lights and stops signs. Rather, the seven-minute drive is punctuated by question marks that leave me wondering why I didn't pursue advanced degrees in meteorology, animation, anthropology, theology and criminal justice before choosing to have a child.
"Who does Spider-Man fight?"
"Who else does Spider-Man fight?"
"Is it going to thunderstorm? See - the clouds are coming together. Why do the clouds come together?"
"Where do the robbers live? But why do they live there? Do they not buckle their seat belts?"
But on Monday morning, as we made the famliar drive, I found myself not pulling my hair out and silently screaming, "I don't give a shit where Superman lives," but answering a question that I'd never thought I'd have to answer. Not while talking to my son, not before he has even turned 3.
"Mommy, why do you want to be skinny?"
Long before I became a mother, long before I met Mark, I knew that of the things I would pass on to my family, I didn't want it to be my own weight history or body image issues. It was not just a matter of the child(ren) not being overweight but also one of recognizing it. Just as one might try to "erase" race, I didn't want them to see fat or skinny, to recognize it, to talk about it.
Yet, here I was. Being forced to talk about it. And I didn't know how.
So I did what I do best. I just started BSing my way through it, hoping to turn the conversation around and distract him.
"Mommy just wants to be healthy and strong."
Why? He asked.
"It makes mommy feel better about herself."
"When I feel healthy and strong, I feel happier."
"When I'm healthy and strong, I can play ball with you in the backyard and take you for runs and go to the park and play."
"Hey! Who do you want to play with at daycare?"
Daycare. I thought, as I drove. Of course.
Recently, one of the helpers at daycare has commented (more than once) that I have been looking skinnier. I think it's probably because I have lost a bit of the wheat bloat and now that it's finally summer, wearing less bulky clothing. I don't like talking about my weight, no matter how well meaning the comments are, and I usually slough it off. I say I'm just doing what I'm doing.
Miles isn't always around for these conversations and, if he is, I'm not sure he cares what we are saying. There are times, though, when he'll ask what we're talking about and pull out words from the conversation.
Words like skinny.
While I thought the issue was one I would need to be more cognizant of if I had a daughter, the inquisition was a reminder that what we say has power. The things we talk about don't recognize age or gender. A parent's opinions, attitudes and comments shape what they think is important.
And, at 33, I can say that skinny isn't one of those things.