My son has said mean things to me before. Children, not knowing any better, often blurt out observations without considering how it will make another person feel.
I remember a young cousin asking me if I had chicken pox during my teen-acne years.
My daughter told my husband his tummy was too big when he was blocking the doorway she was trying to get through.
Then there was this morning when I was racing around getting my three children ready for school and my son Philip, 12 said, “Mum, you look fat from behind”. He said it in a tone-of-voice not dissimilar to when he says, “Hey Mum, we’re out of chicken soup,” so I didn’t immediately take offence.
However in that split second before I responded to his comment I became aware that what I was about to say would be a teaching moment for him, for his little brother Giovanni, 8 sitting nearby and for my daughter Caterina, 6 who was watching it all unfold.
I didn’t want to defend myself because I didn’t want to teach them that there was anything wrong with being fat. I didn’t want to be anti-health and I didn’t want to dismiss it because if he said it to someone else they might really take offence.
Here’s what I said and keep in mind I only had a split second to decide how to respond.