“How was your day at school, baby?” I asked as she climbed into the car. —“A little boy told me I had a fat belly,” she said, almost matter-of-factly.
“I’m sorry… what?!”
She repeated herself. The next three seconds seemed like days.
This is my baby. I worked so hard to bring her into this world. We struggled for three years to conceive before we found out that this lovely was, in fact, going to break that streak and I was going to be allowed to be a mom. This little one was to be my charge. My responsibility. I was carrying my heart and in nine months, I would release her into the outside world to wander around with whatever environmental and social-emotional factors were prevalent at that time.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you I had prayed for boys.
On that fateful day when the ultrasound technician asked if we wanted to know the sex of our baby, we enthusiastically responded. Of course we were grateful for ten fingers and ten toes; healthy is really all you hope for, right?
We were having a girl.
I was a girl. I knew what it was like to be a girl. It would be ok.
But on that day a boy told my little girl she had a “fat belly,” I had to draw myself out of my emotions and back into this crucial reality. I knew she was awaiting my response. My response would likely dictate her response.
The decisions of whether or not we truly needed a wipe-warmer on our registry seemed far in the past now. This was real life. I was now raising a young lady and my next reaction was where the rubber would meet the road. What kind of mom would I be in this moment? Some little human had just called my little human something that was not previously in her frame of reference and I was furious. Was today was the day we were going to start defining ourselves based on what others observe in us?
I expected this, sure – but she is six. SIX. Who was this little human who was so careless with his words? Who chooses to voice observations like these? Logic smacked me in the back of the head and I shook the ethos from my rhetoric.
Six year olds do.
They think these thoughts and say them out loud. My daughter had not mentioned malice in his words, although she found them hurtful. Or did she? What if I could get her to reason through the comments of others to circle back to values we were trying to instill in her?
I took a deep breath and responded to that beautiful face staring back at me in the rear-view mirror.
“Well, are you?”
“What?” she clarified.
“Are you fat?” I asked of her, as nonchalantly as I could muster while still in disbelief that I was having this conversation with a six-year-old.
She paused before responding.
“No…,” she finally responded.
“Well then,” I breathed, “you don’t need to worry about what that little boy said.” I smiled back at her.
She blinked slightly and I realized the conversation was not yet over.
“But let me ask, you this, baby, ‘What are you?… Who are you?’”
She said, “I am Harper.”
And that, we decided, is enough.