OUR DISTURBING TRIP TO THE DOCTORS

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Germs pass through our house in a slow, soul-destroying, lingering way. I always say that the best case scenario is if we all get sick at the same time because then at least we all get better together. Most of the time we pass our germs back and forth until some miracle happens and we all just magically feel healthy again. A couple of weeks ago both of our girls were sick at the same time. Fevers, snot, coughing and general misery demanded a trip to the doctor.

Having just started a new job, I was unable to take the girls to the doctor myself – cue epic mom guilt – so Regan and our nanny piled into the car with Sophie and Grace and off they went to the doctor. Now at this point I should probably tell you that we have a pretty awesome doctor. We’ve been going to her for 5 years and she is really great. We all love her and feel super comfortable with her.

This visit to her office was the exception though.

After waiting the standard 45 minutes past the booked appointment time, Regan and the girls finally got in to see our GP and after a short examination, she declared that both the girls had chest infections and would need to go on a course of cortisone and antibiotics. In order to prescribe the correct dosage of said antibiotics, she had to first weigh the kids. And this is when things took a turn for the worse…

After weighing both the girls, she sat down at her desk, faced Regan and our nanny and declared that both of our children were at least 3 kilos overweight and both needed to go on a diet. Now there are a few major problems I have with this:

1. Sophie is 5 years old and not deaf. How dare 3 adults have a conversation about her body in front her and act as if she is not there, or not able to understand them?
2. I firmly believe that no child under the age of 12 should be put on a diet. Childhood obesity is pervasive and devastatingly sad, but children are not the problem. And they should NEVER be made to feel like they are.
3. She is a 4 year old girl, how dare anyone speak about the shape of her body, which is still growing and changing drastically, every single day.
4. She is 130 cm tall. That is 36 cm shorter than me. So yes she weighs more than the average 4 year old.
5. Grace is a baby FFS. NOt even 2, no way she's going on a diet.

Regan called me after the doctors visit and naturally I was outraged when he told me what was said. I took half the day to cool my jets. I needed to think about how I could help Sophie process this horrible trip to the doctor and also how I could take what our doctor said and make actionable changes to my kids’ lifestyles that didn’t involve putting them on a diet.

I have spoken a little about my own struggle with my weight and if there is one thing I hope for my girls it’s that they grow up loving their bodies. So how do I encourage a body positive mindset in a 1 year old and a 5 year old? I’m so glad you asked, because this is basically what I am doing:

Encourage them to be whatever they want to be.

I am aggressively supportive of everything my kids want from life. Whether its to wear an Alice band over a beanie or to become a rocket scientist that lives on Mars. I don’t care, if it’s what you want you want, I will support you forever.

Let them have a voice in making the decisions that affect them.

We discuss everything. When I came home from work, Sophie and I spoke about the visit to the doctor. We spoke about how we’ve been eating so much crap lately and we spoke about wanting to be healthy and fit and strong and how junk food makes us sick. We spoke about the importance of speaking up when you feel uncomfortable. We spoke about being brave enough to tell people that they are making you feel sad when they exclude you from conversations. We spoke about how important it is to be happy with yourself. Children have to feel valued and the easiest way to achieve that is to make sure they know that their opinions matter.

Be the woman you want them to become.

How can I tell my children to love and respect everything that they are if I don’t afford myself the same level of care? How can I shun diets when I am always on one? How can I preach about self-worth when I consistently devalue myself? I can’t. So I need to be the example.

Praise for their achievements, not their appearance.

Listen, my kids are gorgeous. And not just because I think they are. They really are. So the one thing they hear more often than ANYTHING else is how pretty they are. I hate it. It means nothing. Pretty is not an achievement. It’s not worthy of praise. It’s just your face. We all have one. And while yours may be nice, it’s not the thing that defines who you are. When we praise our girls we try to say things like: you are so clever, you have such a gift for xxx, I am so proud of you for being kind to your sister, you are so funny, I love that you care so much about your family.

Listen more than talk.

All children need to heard. They need to know that when they talk, we are not just waiting for our turn to respond, we are listening.

Help them process the messages they see in the media.

It would be so naïve to think we could shield our children from mainstream media. But we can help them process what we see. Here’s an awesome of example of something that happened to Sophie and I: I was paging through Marie Claire and Sophie saw one of those heavily airbrushed images of some female celeb in a perfume ad. Her first reaction was to say how the lady in the ad looked exactly like a princess. I started to say something negative along the lines of “well she’s totally airbrushed” but instead I decided to lift the curtain, and showed Sophie a bunch of makeup tutorials on YouTube, specifically the before and after ones. I explained that anyone can look like a princess with the right amount of makeup but that looking like a princess didn’t mean you were a better person. It just meant that you had lots of makeup on. Now when she sees ads featuring beautiful women, instead of shouting about how perfect they look, she says “I like how her makeup is done”. Which tells me that she understands that underneath all of the make up is just a normal person.

As far as healthy eating goes, we’re tackling it as a family. My children do not go to the shop to buy their own food. They don’t order take out or stand at the stove and prepare unhealthy dinners. I do. So I am taking responsibility for that. I am trying to reignite my love for cooking and I’ve bought a few new cookbooks to help us eat healthier meals that are nutrient dense and better for us in the long run. We’re also taking part in Meat Free May and waving goodbye to all animal products for the month of May.

Motherhood is such a journey and I know that since January I have kind of checked out of it a little. I have been dealing with so much stress and as a result I have let things slip at home, I have been way too lenient about snacking and being a little too indulgent about desserts. So we’re making the changes we need to make and in the meantime, we’re working on cultivating KICK ASS attitudes about our bodies.

Nikki
Xxx

10 comments

  1. GIIIIIRL!!! I don't have daughters, and politely decline any offers of daughters, or more sons, or pets :) But I loved this so much! I have the same ethos when it comes to raising Aidan, he gets to make decisions and I talk to him about talents that outweigh his long lashes and curls, love it, great job lady.

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    1. Firstly, AMEN!!!! to know more kids. Secondly, I applaud you for teaching A about body positivity because it's often treated as a "girls only" issue, but it affects boys too. Flip raising kids is no joke.

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  2. Holy crap. I read this and literally had shivers. I cannot believe that adults can be so reckless.
    I'm constantly being told that my son looks like a girl because he has long hair. As if long hair is an exclusively female thing. Oden loves his hair. I tease him about cutting it and he gets so cross, the only time he EVER said he wants it cut is after some asshole kid said he has girls hair. And he's bloody two. It makes me SO mad.

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    1. So reckless. The long hair thing is one of those things that elicits epic eye rolling from me. People are so insecure in their own sexuality that they always seem to have this need to pass off their bullshit ideas to everyone around them. I mean FFS, hair is not inherently male or female.

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  3. Thanks for this honest and insightful story Nikki! It has given me food for thought (excuse the pun;)

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  4. Totally not on! It is some thoughtless thing that can add years of devastation. How do you explain this to go away? In this house we are focusing on health, not weight? I would talk to the doctor

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    1. Yep, that's exactly what I did. I had an appointment with her the week after this happened and I raised it then. She did explain that it was never her intention, but she should have known better. Done better.

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  5. I would have lost MY SHIT!!!! Your girls are perfect and it is ridiculous that a child be weighed and judged without factoring a number of things in such as their height, heritage, bone structure etc. Ooh this made me so mad I can barely type. I love your approach though and I'm actually also going to show my 4 year old some make up vids so that she has an idea of reality before she processes the fakeness of tv and magazines. Ugh, stupid doctor.

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    1. Thank you so much Nadia. I got so angry, and like you say, weight and body type is informed by so many different factors and before you humiliate, you need to consider all of those things. I also firmly believe that children who are overweight should be steered towards healthy eating that maintains their current weight so that it evens out as they grow, and not put on a diet. I mean how fucking damaging is that??

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