Here is the face of neglect:
You might not realize she is neglected. We didn't know either since we lavish her with love and attention and she is oftentimes found in our laps giving and receiving hugs galore. But, as it turns out, she has been the victim of parental neglect.
This all came to light a week ago when she had her annual checkup with the pediatrician. I wasn't there, B had taken her since I had taken LM the week before to his annual and a few days before, I had taken time off of work to bring them both to see the dentist.
Our baby is overweight, as in "fear child obesity" levels of overweight. She is in the 90th % for weight to height ratio and we were read the riot act. No juice, no chocolate milk, less sugary snacks, and make sure she gets a good hour of exercise a day and don't depend on daycare for providing it!
I am watching The Biggest Loser this season mainly because my beloved Jillian Michaels is back on it (please don't criticize her, as I have told B, I have an excellent sense of humor about many things but not MY Jillian). This season they are focusing on childhood obesity and they have 3 kids who are more tweens/teens on the show. In one episode, they made a point that most parents of obese and overweight kids think their kid is normal weight or even underweight. Guilty!
I look at my daughter and see nothing but beauty and love. Sure she has a chubby round face, but I always did too. I considered it genetics. But I also have much less desirable genes too and they are hitting her young.
Now, coming from a fat childhood, I had some ideas of how not to handle things. For starters, my parents banned sugary snacks from the house so what did my brother and I do? We stole coins from the coin jar in my parent's room, saved up, bought bargain bags of candy at the drugstore on the corner near our bus stop and gobbled hand fulls of it on our walk from bus to home, hiding the evidence deep in the trash when we got in the house.
The other extreme was my doing something called Diet Workshop with my mother as young as 9. Now to be honest, I have great memories of that as time spent with my mom doing something together. But, I also have memories of these nasty chemical laden "diet foods" and liters of diet soda which I still think may have played a hand in my mom's cancer.
It was hard deciding what to do and I am sure we will change as we go. It is all complicated by the fact that we have to go through extremes to keep weight on LM. His ADHD medicine makes him not want to eat during the day so he eats a large dinner and then has to have a calorie laden "bed time snack" about an hour before he sleeps. This, mind you, is also doctor's orders.
Since the kids have a very ingrained sense of what is and is not fair, you can be sure A has made it known that she too must have a night-time snack and some nights we indulge her and give her a smaller portion of what he is having. It is typically wheat crackers with peanut butter and jelly on it and a banana or a bowl of cereal and milk, that sort of thing.
Balancing the needs of the "needs to eat more" kid with "needs to eat less" one has been rough. We tossed out all the juice and chocolate powder and went from having one sugary thing a day to one every other day. This has been met by some resistance but so far so good. They seem to understand that sugar is not good for their bodies and is something they can have, just not every day. I have started packing more fruits and veggies in their lunch boxes, and nighttime snacks for A are now relegated to a few times a week instead of every night.
But exercise, well that is another story. This is where being a full time work out of the home parent is a real detriment. If she is not getting exercise at school (although I think she is because they do a lot of physical activities with the kids), just how am I supposed to make sure she gets an hour a day in the few hours I get her in the evening? They are starving when I pick them up, and after LM's homework is done it is pretty much bath, books, and bed.
Here is a little pet peeve of mine. As I have confessed earlier, I am bad with money. As such, we are focused on the following: paying the bills, paying off the credit card debt, and saving for a house down payment. Some things have suffered in this, and one of those is extracurriculars for the kids. I would love to be one of those parents who have their kids in a sport, learning a language, and playing an instrument but (spoiler alert!) I'm not.
I even threw a tiny bit of a tantrum because I already pay for a weekly dance class at A's school and their only other offering is Spanish class which costs $150 for 3 months. I had declined it thinking that it was a lot of money for a 3 year old to learn Spanish for half an hour a week. I considered it the equivalent of watching Dora the Explorer which she can do for free! (Please note, I am not intending to be a racist asshole, I am just saying if a 3 year old gets exposed to a few songs in Spanish for a tiny bit of time once a week, is it really worth $150? Is she really going to learn anything that way? Discuss!)
Anyway, you know what happened? She was the only kid in her class NOT in Spanish which meant that every week when the Spanish teacher came, A was escorted downstairs to play with the younger kids while all her friends stayed behind. Guess who cried because of that? Guess who had to pony up $150 so her daughter could learn to count to 10 in Spanish?
It is winter here. It hasn't snowed enough to make sledding a regular thing and it has been arctic cold. This makes staying home all day very inviting on the weekends and has not been conducive to providing the kids with the hour a day of exercise they need. This means I have to either enroll them in a gym class or pay to take them to one of those inside ball pit bouncy house germ factories every weekend.
Unfortunately since it is winter, and people can't go out, all the other parents who aren't neglectful, have already filled all the weekend spots in the classes. I must have called 20 places (mostly dance and gymnastics) before I found a class with one spot left for her age group. Today was her first gymnastics class and don't you know that she bitched about it the whole way there and I had to bribe her with TV to get her to try it but after one class, she is hooked!
Sadly, so is her brother and there aren't any spots for his age range anywhere until March. He is angry, my friends, angry! It is that fairness thing again.
Anyway, please let me know if you have any suggestions on how I can best deal with this situation. How would you suggest we go about it with one kid who needs to gain weight, and one who needs to lose it?