Hank: (tucking into his third plate of homemade mac and cheese) Mama, this is soooo good. Exactly what I wanted. Thank you.
Me: I am just so glad you are eating. You’ve been hungry all day.
Pai: Good sign you are getting better.
Me: We’ve got to fatten you up!
Hank: But not too much. I don’t want to get fat.
Monica: Hey, I don’t like hearing that.
Me: What I miss?
Pai: What was that?
Molly: (happily tucking to her food) Masa (pasta).
Monica: Hank just said he didn’t want to get fat. I’m sorry, but I am a bit sensitive to that right now. When I was home in Luxembourg my eight year old sister, I was helping her get ready for school and I said, “why don’t we make a sandwich for you.” And she said, “No, I have gym today.” And I said, “All the more reason to make a sandwich.” And she said, “Não, pão faz engordos.” (No, bread makes you fat.)
Me: Oh man.
Pai: So sorry, prima (cousin).
Monica: It just makes me so sad, you know? She is eight.
Hank: But I worry about that, too. I worry about getting fat. Being fat makes you so unhealthy.
Pai: Hank, are you aware how many kilos you’d have to gain before you’d be considered overweight? Double your current body weight. You’d have to gain a whole other you.
Hank: But it happens. People do it.
Me: Yes, but you do not live in an unhealthy, emotionally or physically, home. You are not surrounded by unhealthy choices and you have two parents, great school staff and an amazing Prima (cousin) all here to help you make great food choices. You eat soup and salad at each lunch and dinner. You don’t need to worry.
Pai: You eat home cooked food, at school and at home, made from fresh, local ingredients. Everything is from here. If you have a McDonalds it is one meal once a month, maybe. You do not drink soda everyday and when you do it is one can not endless free refills.
Me: You walk everywhere, you are in swimming school twice a week and you have gym at school twice a week and THREE recesses where you run and jump and play.
Pai: Hank, you don’t need to think about weight. Except for now because you lost so much weight with your mononucleosis. These next few weeks you need to over do it a little because you are in the negative. You are at an unhealthy weight.
Hank: (looking at Monica) I am sorry your sister is worried about weight.
Monica: I had a long talk to her about it, but it just bothered me so much. You shouldn’t be worried about these things at your age. You should still be a kid and playing and worried about kids stuff.
Hank: The girls at my school don’t talk about weight. Singing and dancing is their thing. That is all they talk about.
Me: Food is fuel. It is devastating when it becomes something else.
Hank: (polishing off his plate) Argh, I am so full. The doctor would be proud of me.
Me: Yes, she would! She came in to check on him the last ER visit and was so excited he was eating a vending machine Twix Bar. She told Hank, “Fofinho (Cutie), you must eat. Eat Chocolate! You want ice cream, you eat ice cream. You want McDonalds, you eat McDonalds.” You are making up for two weeks of calories from juice.
Molly: (sleeping in her high chair over an empty plate)
Hank: We will help Molly to know she doesn’t have to worry about weight. She is gorducha (plump), but that is good for a baby.
Pai: You have always been slim, never under weight, but always in the healthy range. That is how your body functions. All bodies are different and all bodies are beautiful. It is important to make healthy choices so your body and your brain can work properly. That is what is important.
Me: Life is a balance.
Hank: Right now my body is sleepy. I ate so much.
Monica: Molly, too.
Molly: (sleeping, head nodding)
Me: That’s called a food coma.
Pai: Mac and Cheese will do that to you.