Earlier this month, my twelve year old daughter Sammi mused to me, as she rummaged through the refrigerator for a snack, that she was hungry all the time these days.
“I feel like I just always want something to eat!” she told me as she scooped refried beans into a bowl at the counter.
“That’s pretty normal for a kid your age,” I reminded her. “You’re doing your last big growth spurt right now.”
“Yeah,” she answered, sprinkling shredded cheese on her bowl of beans and sliding it into the microwave, “but this is crazy. By seventh period every day, I’m already trying to think about what’s left in my lunchbox to eat on the walk home! I just chew gum and try to make it for three more classes.”
I made some suggestions about keeping a small snack in her bag to nibble between classes, and she brought her bowl of beans and cheese to the counter to eat as she got started on homework.
Four years ago, I would not have recognized one thing from this scene: not her independence, not her strong shoulders or her thick hair, not my casual tone, and, most of all, not the fact that my daughter was making the equivalent of a full meal as an after-school snack.
Four years ago, a bowl of refried beans and cheese would have come home from school with her in a thermos, missing a few spoonfuls, and be dumped in the trash by dinner time when she still hadn’t finished it.
Four years ago, my relationship with Sammi was almost entirely composed of my trying gently to encourage her to eat, my trying not-so-gently to encourage her to eat, and my internal monologue that blamed everything that went wrong with her temperament to my failure to find exactly the right things for her to eat.
Four years ago, I didn’t really know my daughter at all. Continue Reading…