"Mommy, look at my belly! It's sitting up! (means sticking out) Maybe there's a baby in there!"
My son was looking at the photo I had just taken of him and his little sis eating their ice cream cones. I actually laughed loudly because he said it with such vigor and exclamation, but now I'm re-thinking that decision.
The very next night he was taking a shower with my husband after they had spent a long time gardening. "Daddy, look how FULL my belly is! Maybe I shouldn't eat breakfast or lunch tomorrow?" he asked. My husband bent over to be on his level and said, "Oh, Buddy Boy. You're perfect how you are! You're growing and it's wonderful!"
Later my husband and I privately talked.
"Where would he have learned a question like that?"
"Do you think he's insecure?!"
Maybe we're overreacting. Perhaps it really wasn't a big deal and he's simply starting to recognize that his tummy expands after he eats a meal. But oh my heart... how I pray the feelings of insecurity AWAY from my sweet, dear boy!
We don't talk negatively about body image in our house. Before they were born we agreed that we would fight tooth and nail to not let them hear the word "fat" or "awful" or "too big," when referring to ourselves. Brave, strong, courageous, handsome, cute... those are the adjectives we use more often than not when loving on them. Behind our walls, may they never feel the weight of insecurities.
But we all know that can't really happen. Someday they'll go off to school. Kids will be mean and say hurtful things. They'll get their first zit, they'll be made more aware of society's 'ideal image' for men and women. But how fervently I pray that their worth is never found in their physical characteristics alone.
It could have been nothing.
It's probably no big deal.
Even though I will fight to help him feel so incredibly wonderful, just the way he is, my heart aches at just the thought of my barely 4-year old son thinking that perhaps he should eat less to stop his belly from growing.