About four years ago when I trained an employee group on customer service, I told a story that I recall like it was yesterday. I was in Meijer, perusing the chip aisle, when a little girl, probably three or four, said to her mother, “mom, that lady is biiiiiiiiig.” Nice.
The truth is, I have been tall for as long as I can remember. While my driver’s license says I’m 5’11”, when I was last measured I actually came to 6’2”. My self-confidence must have risen slightly because there was a time I would be too scared to even write that. Six-two…that’s like a man, I know.
I honestly cannot remember for the life of me why I shared that story to the group or what the heck it had to do with customer service. I’m sure it had some connection, but it’s also likely I wanted to use my platform when speaking in front of a few hundred people to say, “Hey! Teach your kid the word tall if it’s the only thing you teach them!” I’m not big. I’m tall. There’s a rather big (no pun intended) distinction there.
So about a month or so ago our toddler was looking at her reflection in my husband’s car and it was distorted. She said to me, “Hey mom look. I look fat!” Then she backed up and went forward multiple times saying, “Fat…regular…fat…regular.” She was pretty excited about the whole thing, but I was somewhat appalled that she would say that, and I told her she was just perfect no matter how she looked.
Then she said it again when she was all bundled up underneath her Halloween outfit. It was something to the effect of, “I feel fat.” Really, did our toddler who just turned three say she feels fat? While I can’t say for sure that I have never, ever said that in front of her (but she would remember, even if I said it once two years ago), I can say that it isn’t something I say often, if at all.
So, I started paying attention to things and finding out how this word, fat, has entered her vocab so much. As we’ve been reading books over the last few weeks it’s probably come up at least once per day. The big fat caterpillar…the big fat cat had a big fat smile…and so on and so on. Seems totally harmless until your toddler starts using the word like a teenager.
The kicker was when she looked at her precious baby sister the other day and said, “Mom, she has a fat face.” WHAT? So, acting quickly I said, “Your sister isn’t fat. She’s a healthy, happy baby.” To which she replied, “Well, what is she then? You know, her cheeks and stuff.”
At the spur of the moment I said, “Your sister is a cute little chubby-wubby.” And she is. At seven months she has chubby-wubby cheeks and chubby-wubby legs. I.just.love.them. The chubber-wubbers is a happy, healthy babe.
Our toddler does listen well. Tonight she pushed her skinny little belly out when I was putting her to bed and said, “Mom look, I have a chubby-wubby belly. But it’s not fat!” Success? Failure? Is there really a difference between fat and chubby-wubby? I think I’ll stick to telling her not to comment on her or other people’s appearance and remind her God made each one of us just perfect. Even my big, chip aisle shopping, tall as a man self.