This from the little boy in the backseat. The two year old.
“What?” I ask, my voice a bit frantic.
And so BF and I do what we do as parents: figure out where the heck that came from.
Little kids as early as preschool age have and share judgments about weight. Even if we don’t stay stuff about their bodies, we still often say stuff about our own bodies or other people’s bodies in front of them. And though we think they aren’t listening, they really hear everything.
Our little kid is no different. Anything we say, he parrots. Sometimes, I crack myself up by getting him to say things that are just funny to hear a two year old to say. Now, get your mind out of the gutter. Not that. But the sort of things that just sound silly coming from a two year old like, “I wonder how the stock market performed today.” Because that’s how easily I am amused.
But as my little boy declares again that he is heavy, I am not amused.
“Where do you think that he heard that?” I ask BF.
And so we sit there, going back in time to a moment where Happy may have heard he was heavy. And, then, it dawns on me.
I said it.
Happy likes to be held. A lot. “Up” might very well be the thing he is most likely to say to me. And as a parent through adoption, I’ve been wired to build attachment at all times. I pick him up when he asks because, seriously, how much longer is he going to ask, and I just adore this kid and there’s really nothing sweeter than being eye to eye with him, laughing, kissing, snuggling. But here’s the thing about Happy’s “Up.” It can’t happen in a chair. Up means UP. Means mommy needs to stand up for the duration. And I don’t lift weights like I once did. Happy’s the only weight I’ve been lifting of late. And I can feel it. So the other day, after about 3 or 4 hours of upness in the day, I handed Happy off to BF at bedtime prayers (which also have to be done UP) because “he’s getting a little heavy for me.” Three days later, he’s declaring he’s heavy spontaneously in the back seat.
For a moment, I think about every lesson I’ve learned with this one: that he really can hear and understand most of what we’re saying now, how my statement was really more about my strength and endurance than a judgment about his size and, yet, I didn’t deliver it in a way that accounted for that fact, how you can never be too careful and schooled on this stuff to avoid all missteps.
And then I pipe up and change the dialogue to one that I can live with and, more importantly, that is fair for my little boy to live with from this day forward.
“You are growing, Happy. And everyday you are becoming stronger and stronger. What you are is strong.”
“I’m strong,” his sweet little voice echoed.
And I thank my lucky stars that, maybe just maybe, we reshaped that conversation before it ever did damage.