They say these things are sent to test us – accompanied with an inane smile with a hint of fear in their eyes. They say that. Well, if that’s the bloody case, have I won yet? Have I passed? I’ve had everything thrown at me this month, from my boiler breaking, anti-depressants sending me loopy, my oven blowing up, sickness bugs, insomnia, my nan having a stroke, colds, the TV packing up, a child with awful constipation that left him sobbing on the loo and Rob collapsing. Twice.
That’s all on top of the standard mentaldom of everyday life. With schools never ending demands of ”Please send your child in with a star costume / money / plastic cups filled with sweets / cardboard boxes / a stamped address envelope (delete as applicable) etc etc. Christmas meltdowns ensuing and bajillion other things I’ve successfully managed to block out with exhaustion and a lack of caring.
It’s all been dealt with though. Somehow. I’ve found if I try really, really hard I can shit miracles.
But do you know what’s got to me the most? Above not being able to have a shower for five days? Above spending every last penny I had to pay for some mysterious part to magically resurrect my boiler? Even beyond my blind panic about my nan’s and partner’s health?
My four year old getting it into his beautiful head that he’s fat.
Yes, that’s right.
Watching him in horror climbing down from the dining table once he’s finished his dinner and immediately dropping to the floor to (attempt to) do push ups. Hearing the words I don’t want to have a big tummy, tumble from his mouth with a tangible edge of anxiety in his words. Him saying that he has to do lots of exercise so he doesn’t get a big tummy.
Realising with a massive thump in the pit of my stomach that my four year old has already made the connection that big equals bad. I had no doubt in this day and age it would be inevitable when he’s older, even if it wasn’t a full blown complex, then it’d more likely be just a smidge of lingering doubt about himself, no matter how many times I tell him he’s beautiful.
But not when he’s fucking four. Not when his physique is still very much like a toddler’s with a protruding tummy that will only diminish as he grows and gets older – not with a bloody push ups.
So how did this ugly little seed get planted into his gorgeous little head?
I know what your thinking.
You’re thinking, Ahhh, Cas, you have a some extra junk in the trunk, he’s got it from you, right?
And actually, no, as much as I blame myself for every single minute thing, no. I make a point not to say negative things about myself in front of him, however subtle. I’ve even ensured I never use the word “fat” with him around because I know from experience it’s one of those words that sticks. I don’t go on crazy-arsed diets, I don’t fall into the trap of pigeon holing foods as “good” and “bad”.
So where then, you ask?
Peppa motherfucking Pig, that’s where.
“I don’t want a big tummy like Daddy Pig.”
“I have to do exercises like Daddy Pig so I don’t get big, mummy.”
A children’s program. A program that’s mainly watched by pre-schoolers and toddlers.
A program where for some reason, it’s a running joke that Daddy Pig has a big tummy and is lazy, and we must all poke fun at him for this, even though he’s the same bloody size and shape as all the other daddys and male characters in the program.
What the actual fucking fuck?
I’m absolutely crushed.
My little boy, who accepts everyone without question, be it their size, age, colour, sex or what cartoon character they have on their lunch bag, has already descended on the downward spiral of not being able to accept himself. And no matter how many times I say to him that him having a big tummy is a good thing, as it means he’s been very clever and eaten all of his dinner, how many times I tell him he’s beautiful, and so special and that I love him more than anything, I’m terrified that this is a slippery slope that I just can’t cushion and the damage is already done.