So today Maya had her 5-year physical and check-up. She did great — but I was shocked when our pediatrician — who I adore and respect –showed us her growth curve chart and told us we need to watch her weight.
Had I been drinking something, I assure you I would have spit it out all over him.
Now let me tell you something about my daughter. Maya is tiny. Not just short, but petite. Small. Thin (not skinny–just thin; normal!).
She’s mother-effing PERFECT.
Like–her little body is insanely perfect, and I’m not just saying it because I’m her mom. I’d do anything for a figure like hers! Even at her age, I was borderline chubby. She is absolutely not. She has long, lean arms and taut, muscular little legs. A perfect little belly that isn’t even rounded anymore (tear). You can see her ribs without her sucking it in. There is nothing chubby about her.
But she is short for her age (20th percentile) and her weight, 40.8 pounds, is in the 60th percentile for her height (41 inches). So according to her BMI, that makes her borderline overweight.
MAYA. My kid. This girl right here. “Borderline overweight.”
Now before you tell me that BMI doesn’t matter anymore, anyway, or that I should find a new pediatrician … just know that those thoughts swam in my head, too.
But that isn’t the answer, either. He’s the physician and he knows what he is talking about. (OK but I still think BMI is a crock; even at my thinnest — I was still technically borderline “overweight”) …
And he was just saying that no, she isn’t chubby now … but we need to be on the lookout, basically, for the future. (What I heard: neither of you are skinny minnies, so genetics clearly isn’t working in her favor!!). In fairness to him, “Just switch to skim milk, more fruits and veggies, less snacky-snacks” … is what he actually said. My ears just heard something else.
Let me be clear: he wasn’t asking us to put her on a diet or for her to lose weight or anything — she’s FIVE and healthy — just for us to be careful that she doesn’t gain too much too quickly; because she’s on the shorter side, she will have a harder time with her weight than someone taller and, therefore, leaner.
But his words hurt, even if they were true.
Fortunately she is a really good and well-rounded eater; loves her F&V — so I don’t think any of the little changes we will be implementing will appear obvious to her or really make a difference to her; we’ll just know we’re being more vigilant. (Luis was there, too, and he’s on board–which helps since we are both on our own respective weight loss journeys).
Also fortunately, this isn’t a kid who sits with a bag of chips or a box of cookies; I’ve always been of the mindset that she can have whatever, but in moderation. I’ve never followed the deprivation model with my kids and don’t intend to, now. She’s an active kid — always on the go, running, playing, in dance … and we need to keep that up. Because she sees us running, going to the gym, playing sports, taking family walks, biking, etc — I hope she is learning by example.
Still, his words stung … because they felt like a reflection of me — of my own weight-related insecurities. I don’t want to screw her up. I don’t want her thinking she is “fat” when she isn’t … or guide her if I see her gaining.
And then it made me wonder if my own pediatrician had ever told my parents to be cautious of my weight as a kid? I should ask my mom. Or maybe it’s that, nowadays, physicians are just so worried about childhood obesity that they just include the fear-mongering in the annual checkup if there is even an inkling of concern — even if it’s not a present concern? I don’t know.
I do know I don’t want my daughter to be concerned about her weight — at least, not now (the tween and preteen years are typically where those issues arise and I can’t control that — just being her best supporter and telling her she is perfect as she is; we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
For now, we’ll just make small changes — switching the kids off 2% and down to skim mik, and less carb-y snacks (they eat a lot of fruit and veggies), encourage and provide healthy choices … and just wait it out.
He wasn’t overly concerned in this minute — but I do know her genetics won’t work in her favor; neither Luis nor I are small people. Fortunately, we’re both trying to lose right now so we have been good about cooking more and ordering out less.
I just love my beautiful girl and don’t want her to ever guess her beauty or worth or think she isn’t good enough. And it’s moments like this, that make motherhood hard.
So truly hard.