The other night I got to spend some time with my family. I love seeing every one of my family members, catching up on news and joking around. I really love getting to hang out with my little brother. He is just so smart and clever, and he has only been around for five years. My life would be pretty dull without him, and I am so thankful I am able to see him about once a week. I even got the privilege to issue him his first library card this past week.
During the time I was with my family we went out to eat. My little brother sat down to eat some chicken tenders and applesauce. He also munched on some food stolen from other people’s meals. Towards the middle of our eating, he lifted his shirt, as little kids are wont to do. He peered down, and lowered the shirt when my sisters reprimanded him gently that it wasn’t polite to do that in public. Suddenly, he leaned over towards my mom and quietly said “I’m fat.” My mom calmly told him that no, he was not fat, he was just getting full. We all went back to talking and he kept us laughing with his antics. About half an hour later, he lifted his shirt again. At this point he had finished his “main course” and had moved on to dessert. He paused long enough to lift his shirt and take a look at his belly, before getting back to his chocolate ice cream. Then, once again, he told my mom “I’m fat”. Just like that, such a simple statement, no emotion revealed. He wasn’t bemoaning his supposed “fatness”, just stating a fact. My mom proceeded to assure him that no, he was not fat. Not even close. He was just getting full, which was a good thing. He was supposed to feel full. That meant he was getting enough to eat.
I noticed all of this, and didn’t say a word. But it really got to me. Here was a little boy, who I love deeply, concerned about “feeling fat” at the age of five. He is not fat, in fact, he is a bit of a runt for his age. So what made him blurt those words? Did I ever say the same when I was his age? What would have happened if I had said this when I was 8, 9, 10…would my mother reassuring me that feeling full was good be enough to quell my fears? My brother is so young. So smart. So full of life. I know that what he was saying didn’t mean anything. not the way it does when I bemoan the state of my bloated belly or how I feel so fat. No, he didn’t mean what he was saying. And I am happy to report that on the trip home, he happily announced “I’m hungry!” less than an hour after he had finished eating.