Too little, too much, just right?

Part of a 2010 discussion on Always Learning:

-=-I think the less focus on weight the better, especially in growing kids who do tend to bulk up several times during childhood before a growth spurt.-=- [part of Joyce Fetterolls's response to a worried mom]


And especially just before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don't even look at it until after a solid deschooling period and into the more- active summer months.

Marty and Kirby both went through pudgy phases and then came out taller and thinner again, three or four times, and they never had food rules or deprivations. Their dad was BIG from infancy. He's a little over 6' and his parents are 5'7 and 5'1 or so. His brothers are shorter than he is. His mother shamed him ceaselessly. Proof is that at the table, out for lunch, last Thursday, she asked him how much he weighs, because he went for another plate at a Chinese buffet. Keith's 52 and his mother is still ragging on him. Holly's boyfriend was there to meet them for the first time and he was kind of stunned, even though his own mother is a shaming kind of mom. He told Keith later than it seemed he (Brett) was the only one at the table who was surprised that the question had been asked.

School and Keith's mom were both cruel to him when he was a kid. My kids didn't have school or a food-controlling mom. I bet all of us know unhappy thin people and happy fat people and shamed-to-death people of all sizes, so the real question for this list isn't how to control of manipulate people, but how to provide an environment in which they can grow in such calm self reflection and awareness that they can learn naturally from the things around them.

My sister got divorced recently (the second time) and she lost a lot of weight, from stress and workaholic tendencies and increased smoking. She thinks it's cool. She's suddenly unhealthily thin (111 pounds at one point recently and she's 5'5" so there's one extreme: the idea that emotional upheaval would create gauntness and that it's a great thing.

Styles change over generations and from culture to culture, and people agitate over not having the ideal size, hair, lips, feet... One of the best things about unschooling is that we can focus on strengths and joys instead of imperfections (whether seasonal, temporary or permanent).


Rue Kream's response:
**I’m assuming you mean your sister in her particular situation is unhealthy, not that anyone who is 5’5” and 111 lbs is unhealthy, cuz you’re logical like that so my response isn’t directed towards what you said, just inspired by it. So here’s where reading that led me…

Keeping weight a non-issue is just as important for kids who are thinner than average as it is for any other kids. I’m 5'4" and usually weigh between 106-112 pounds. Other than a few years when I was having babies I have always been very thin, and I have always heard much more than I would like to about it (although never from my parents, thankfully). People call me skinny or say I’m scrawny or, and this really happened – a man I had never met before, at a party, as I walked away to get food – that I’m built like a carrot stick. I think I can honestly say that not a month of my life (since I was old enough to remember) has gone by without at least one comment about my size. That had some serious affects on me when I was a teenager.

When I was about eleven I was at a friend’s house. We were making dinner with her mom. My friend said something about me being skinny and her mom said, “She’s not skinny, she’s thin.” That’s one of my first memories of thinking about how the words we choose matter. I was reminded of that moment yesterday. Dagny and I were watching the clip that’s all over the internet of Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg making mashed potatoes (don’t ask me why – apparently if I see a link enough times I will eventually click on it) and Martha called Snoop skinny. He said, “I’m athletically built. That’s what you call this.” I filed that away for future use.

Recently at a homeschooling gathering a mom said to me, “What do you think about food?” I said, “I love food. I think food is good.” Of course, she wasn’t asking whether I liked food, but what I thought about limiting food. My answer’s the same either way.

People grow in all sorts of shapes and sizes and will have different shapes and sizes in different seasons of their lives. That’s not something to worry about. ~Rue

Up in the discussion somewhere I had responded this way to this statement:
-=-However, he often goes food shopping with me and chooses his snacks and sweets so more gets purchased those times than if I went food shopping myself :) -=-
I have a recommendation I think you should adopt immediately, and as retroactively as possible.

Rid your vocabulary of "snacks" and "sweets" and "treats." Start thinking of food as food.

"Too little, too much, just right?" of what?

Food? Control and rules? Weight? Worry? Disapproval? Commentary?

Balancing in the Middle Ground

Just right
When I was little, I always liked the musicality of the story of The Three Bears, with its "too hot, too cold, just right" and "too hard, too soft, just right."

Recently I was interviewed and responded to a question about what can be a hurdle for new unschoolers, and what advice I would give to beginners:

"Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch." That's my new improved advice for anyone about anything. Some people think they can read their way to a change, or discuss themselves into unschooling.

It's important to find out what others have discovered and done, but nothing will change until the parents change the way they respond to the child. But if the parents change EVERYthing about the way they respond to the child, that creates chaos, and doesn't engender confidence. The child might just think the parents have gone crazy or don't love him anymore.

One solid step in the direction a parent intends to go is better than a wild dance back and forth. And if that solid step feels right, they can take another solid step.

the full interview, by Kim Houssenloge, of Feather and Nest
Photo by Linnea, with Holly's camera

"The Full Plate Club" Abundance Food at an Unschooling Table

Mindful of Words