This weekend was fabulous; we went to an apple orchard up near the Wisconsin border with some family friends. We picked our own pumpkins, we ate warm apple cider donuts, we took silly pictures. We had a blast. It wasn't too hot, it wasn't too cold. It was just the right mix of sun and clouds; you know a darn near perfect day.
Whenever we go to fall festivals, they have pony rides. Like any little girl, SarahAnne loves pony rides. She will save her allowance for weeks if she has to in order to ride a pony. She loves it; many happy pictures of her have been taken on top of a pony.
The whole morning of our orchard trip she talked about the pony ride; she couldn't wait to ride the pony and what color would the pony be and oooh could I take a picture of her on the pony?
We got in line to ride the pony; a measly four dollars for five minutes of sheer joy for her? Sign me up.
We saw a sign that said "Weight Limit XX" I'd never seen a sign like that, but though "eh, whatever" Bits is right around the posted weight limit, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. NOW, Bitsy is a big girl. By big, I mean she is tall. She is over four foot tall already. She's got a stocky build that she comes by honestly. There are very tall people in my family; I had a maternal grandmother who was over six foot, so it stands to reason that one of the grandkids on this side would be tall, right? Not only that but HH isn't a small guy either, he's six foot tall. Regardless, Bitsy doesn't look like she is six; people have asked if Gabe and Bits are twins because they are so close in size and looks.
SarahAnne was standing at the gate, starting to get giddy after picking out the pony she was going to ride when a woman who worked there said to her "come here, I need to weigh you" she made Bits get on the scale and when it pointed to four pounds over she said "yeah, sorry you're too heavy, you can't have a pony ride"
Annnnnnnd right then and there, Bitsy's damn heart broke. I watched her step off the scale and start to sob quietly until she was back next to me where the water works let loose.
NOW, I understand weight limits and size limitations; the rules are in place for the safety of the animals and I respect that completely. COMPLETELY. What I do not understand is why she was made to stand on a scale and then be told she was too heavy.
Could the woman have asked me if she was under the weight limit? Could the woman have had her step on the scale and then back off and say "oops, looks like you're too old to ride the ponies this year, sorry honey" Could she have possibly handled that with any amount of decency at all?
What lesson did that teach SarahAnne? That she's getting too old for pony rides? (nope, because a few weeks ago she did and there was no scale in sight...) That she's too tall for a pony ride? (nope) What did it teach her? That she was too heavy. Even at the age of six, she has grasped onto the concept of being fat, thanks to some little girls in her class who...well I won't get into that, it's not my place to judge but suffice to say, six year old children should NOT be worried about their sugar intake (she actually said "mom, I'm not going to eat sugar for a week, it makes you so fat" um no. NO. NO!) six year olds shouldn't be concerned that they need to take an hour walk each day in addition to the running around they already do because they are "fat". These are NOT the things six years should be worrying about...and yet...here's my six year old worrying about it because of what society is ALREADY telling them to be worried about.
I don't ever recall being concerned about sugar intake at six, hell even at twelve or thirteen I didn't care about things like sugar intake (and the only reason I do now is because my body doesn't particularly like sugar) I don't think I ever forced myself to go exercise at six and I can't remember being on a scale at ALL except for my yearly physical. I was never told that I was too heavy, I was never told that I was too fat, etc. Was I a chubby kid? Yup, I was. Was I healthy? Yup, I was. It didn't phase me. I didn't worry about it. I don't remember my mother ever being concerned with our weight (other than making sure we were eating well and playing outside-you know, normal mom stuff)
My heart broke for Bitsy on Saturday. I try my damnedest to make sure she has a positive self image because I know how it is to be a girl. Geo and I try to make sure she knows that we think she is funny and smart and clever, not just pretty. We don't place any emphasis on her weight because it's only one small part of her (and she is healthy...very healthy) and yet...when it all came down to it, the scale was the only thing that mattered that day. Again, I understand the concept, I understand the need for the rule, what I don't understand is the way it was handled.
I hate that at six she's already worried about numbers on a scale; I hate that she cried and cried because she is six and just wanted to ride the damn ponies. I hate that this isn't the first time someone has said something about how big she is and she has cried because she thinks she's fat. Just because she doesn't look like she's six doesn't mean she isn't for God's sake. Not to mention, that you shouldn't comment on anyone's size regardless of their age. Damn this vain, self absorbed culture we're part of.