Too Thin — October Memoir Challenge
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.
So glad your experience had a happy ending!
The lunch lady used to cook our lunches at her home and bring it down to us when I was in first grade. Amazing! I still remember it just like my grandma’s cooking. Then from second grade on…industrialized fare that kept getting worse and worse until the cardboard pizzas of my high school years. Now everything is plastic wrapped. Doesn’t even resemble food.
Wow, what a hassle for you Joy. Chloe’s father has a strong food obsession and is very obese. He would try to push food at Chloe and my other two kids constantly staring into their plates and making comments. Those were a few difficult years. (needless to say we are divorced) But I was the main parent and always took the position that they will eat before they die of starvation and guess what? They did.
Ahh, what an issue is weight. Too low, too high, we can’t seem to hit a happy medium. Fortunately, your doctor didn’t make a fuss about it and fix the issue in your mind at an early age. Wise man..
Cafeteria food was icky for sure! I’m happy you got to brown bag it 🙂
Glad you got to be a part of the brown bag crowd.
I’m glad you got the help you needed, and that some grown-ups around you were invested in you. And it sounds like you had at least one good friend and a perceptive mother who both bumped the problem up to your parents. It is okay to be a Tattle Tale sometimes. ;-).
Dr Margaret Aranda
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Ugh, I always bought my lunch too. My mother said food taken in a brown bag would go bad before I got to eat it and would make me sick, lol. The cafeteria always had a weird smell to me – it came from a soup they made. ick.
I’ve always had an issue with weight too. At first the issue was my mother – she always said I was “chunky” but you can see in pictures I wasn’t. But it was apparently a prophecy, because later I was. I had a kinda weird rollercoaster thing going. I was thin as a young child, started putting on weight in about 3rd grade (so embarrassing, they’d line you up and take you to the nurse where she weighed everyone and loudly announced the height and weight 🙁 ) then in sixth grade I slimmed down quite a bit, but in high school (10th grade) started putting it back on again.
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