My 7-year old daughter and I stopped by Target to buy some playing cards for soldiers, our contribution to boxes our church is sending to our military members in Afghanistan. I had a cold and wanted to pick up something I could easily cook for dinner for my family, so we detoured into the food section.
I steered my cart toward the frozen foods but my daughter stopped by the refrigerated food.
"Mom! Can I buy some yogurt?"
"I don't care."
I grabbed a pan of frozen lasagna and placed it in the cart just as she arrived with two containers of Yoplait Light yogurt.
"That's the kind you want?" I was surprised. I'd thought she'd pick out some yogurt marketed toward kids, like Trix yogurt.
"Yes," she said, "Because I want to lose some weight."
"You want to lose weight?"
"Yes, I weigh sixty and I want to weight fifty."
So, that sound you heard late Monday afternoon? That was my scream coming from the food aisle in Target.
My beautiful, perfectly proportioned, athletic, lean daughter has received the message that she needs to lose weight and that the way to do so is to eat this particular brand of "diet" yogurt.
I'm going to have to blame the media for this one, though I am responsible for what happened the other day in our kitchen.
I have to weigh myself in the kitchen because my bathroom is carpeted. It's dumb and turns weighing myself into something of a production. Usually, I have privacy, but the other day, my daughter was lingering around, so I had to weigh myself while she was in the room.
"How much do you weigh?" she said. "I want to see."
"No! Don't look," I told her. I don't really care if she knows my actual weight, but she's at that stage where she announces everything she knows about me to random strangers and all the people she knows at school. She loves to discuss my age (45!) with everyone. I couldn't care less if anyone knows my age, but I really do not want the other kids at school to go home asking their mothers, "How much do you weight? Grace's mom weighs 216."
Then, Grace got on the scale. I was curious and leaned over to see what the scale said and she said, "No! You can't look! I don't want you to know how much I weigh!"
So, I have given her the message that the numbers on the scale should be kept secret, that they are somehow shameful.
And the yogurt people told her she should lose weight by eating their yogurt.
And the television tells her that "thin" is better than "fat". (She says "fin" instead of "thin", though, which makes me smile. I haven't the heart to correct her when she says, "finner" when she means "thinner.")
I have made a point of not saying out loud, "Oh, I'm so fat!" and "I need to diet" and "I can't eat that because I am fat." I do not want to pass along my so-called "food issues" to my daughter. I want her to be healthy and to regard food without the emotions that I've attached to it.
So, in the store, when she said she wants to weigh fifty instead of sixty, I said, "Grace, you are perfect just the way you are."
I turned the cart and we headed to the check-out area. On the way, we passed boxes of donuts.
"Oh!" she said, "Can I get some donuts? Please? Please?"
And I said, "Yes."
Maybe things aren't as bad as I fear.