This is my tenth post, for age 10, of the October Memoir and Backstory Challenge hosted by Jane Anne McLachlan. My previous posts: Baby Speed Eater, Two Tales, Curls, Most Magical Christmas, Kindergarten, Places, Mental Health in 1969, The Boxcar Children, and The Little House Books.
For much of my adult life, I was overweight or obese. Growing up, though, I was always more or less tall and slender. I was often the tallest in my class until Junior High when the boys finally started working toward their full heights.
At age 10, I had an eating problem and it was a matter of too little food rather than too much. I had always been a picky eater but in 5th grade, if I didn’t really like something, I quit eating it. I ate breakfast every morning because I’d been eating the same breakfast for several years and I liked it: Rice Krispies and a teaspoon of sugar with 1% milk and a glass of Tang. I ate supper because, under my mother’s watchful eye, I couldn’t get away with not eating it.
Lunch in the school cafeteria, however, was icky and no one was forcing me to eat anything. So, I ate nothing. This behavior probably would have gone unnoticed for quite some time, but I got a little cocky about my explanation. I felt childish about being a picky eater in front of my friends, so I started using the same words I heard from my mother and her friends about diets and restrictions and “being good.”
One of my friends told her mother that I wasn’t eating and her mother told my mother. The end result was a visit to the doctor. The scale showed that I lost weight since my August pre-school physical even though I was an inch taller.
In those days, anorexia was not as well-known as today. I’m sure my parents had never heard of it. Thinking back on it, my doctor must have had anorexia in mind because he asked very specific questions about the what, when, and why of my food consumption. However, he was also the dad of daughters, including one of my classmates. He wasn’t going to go down the road of an unnecessary diagnosis without trying a more practical solution first — making sure that I had food to eat at lunch that I liked.
That’s how our family doctor ended up being a mediator between me and my mother as we negotiated my entrance into the brown bag crowd. I had always wanted to take my lunch to school since the first time I saw someone else do it. I asked several times, but each time, Mother gave increasingly angry responses so I quit asking. But Mother wouldn’t get angry in front of the doctor, so from that day forward, I took my lunch to school. After that incident, my weight stayed in the normal range for my height through high school.