We have two kids. The first is seven years old and the second is five years old. To me, the greatest blessings of my youth are these two kids. I’m the only kid of my parents. According to the story my mother told me, she suffered before she got me. She got married for seven years and didn’t get pregnant so the man divorced her and went in for another woman. The sad thing is, the woman the man went in for was my mother’s tight friend. One year later, they had a child. My mom became the laughing stock. People would look at her and say something like, “If you’re scared of divorce, you’ll never have a good marriage. See what happened when her husband left her. Just a year they have a child.”
My mom couldn’t stand it so she travelled to stay with her aunt in another town, met another man they got married. It took them five years before I came along. So you can say I was the pride and joy of my parents. That story wasn’t exclusive to only my mother. My mom has three siblings. They too struggled before they had children. They are men so their story was a little bit different. Their women stayed with them for so many years before they started having children. Among the three siblings of my mother, only one of them had three children. The rest had only one child to cater for.
My mom told me, “It’s in the family. I don’t know how your story would be but if it happens that way, don’t be scared. Have patience and a prayerful heart. It may take long but in the end, the children would come.” So, before me and Aggie got married, I told her the story. My mom also told her the same thing and asked her not to put pressure on herself when the time comes. Both of us prepared our minds for the worse but guess what, Aggie got pregnant just within the first year of our marriage. Our first child was only two when Aggie got pregnant again. We could sing Hallelujah song to God for making our story different from the story of our parents. It’s the reason I said in two paragraphs ago that my kids are the greatest blessing of my youth. I didn’t expect them to come when they did. They came early and they came beautifully.
Both kids are obese. They both remind me of a photo I saw of myself when I was their age. I was very fat too. I don’t know what happened to me but as I grew up, the fatness disappeared and I became the athletic guy you see now. My wife would look at these kids and complain, “They are too fat. They will eat everything they see, why won’t they grow fat?” I told her the story of my childhood, “Dear, I was just like that when I was a kid. They will lose it as time goes on. It’s not the food, it’s in the genes.” The issue got worse when these kids came back from school and told her that their friends tease them. The second one said, “They call me Fatso in class. Even my teacher calls me the same.”
The second one started dreading school. Immediately he wakes up and you start telling him about school, he’ll start crying. At first it wasn’t like that. He was excited about school and was the one who went around looking for his uniform and socks. But now, he sees these things and he begins to cry. I went to their school with them one day and spoke to the teacher about it. I told the teacher, “My daughter tells me you call her Fatso. She came here with a name. I’ll respectfully ask you to refer to her with that name and that name only. You don’t know what you’re doing to her when you call her a different name. Talk to the class. Ensure they don’t call her with that name again. If she comes and complain to me again, I’ll speak to the owner of the school and have her withdrawn but it would be an indictment on your profession for failing to instill discipling.”
When I got to the second born’s class, I spoke to the madam and told her about the bullying of my kid. She gave me the chance to speak to the class myself. They were too young to understand the emotional damage they were causing to my kid but I guess I made an impression on them the way I spoke to them. For a whole month each time they came from school I asked them if they were still facing the same challenges. By the end of the month, they both told me that it has stopped. I even saw the change in my second child. He stopped crying about school. He willingly got ready for school with a happy face. Order restored. Little did I know that the next storm was going to come from within.
My wife never stopped complaining about their size. “They are too big for their age. Sometimes it’s embarrassing when you walk with them and everyone begins to look at them. They eat too much. That’s their problem. We have to start reducing their portion.” I told her, “They are different so definitely they will draw stares. That isn’t a bad thing. That isn’t embarrassing. If you’ve been childless before, you’ll understand that having plus size kids isn’t embarrassing.” I treated her complains as the usual rantings she does whenever she wasn’t happy about something. But the first kid started talking to me about the way her mother treated her, “Today mom called me a pig. She said I look like Peppa pig.”
I confronted my wife about it; “Why did you call your fellow woman a pig? Huh? How could you?” She asked, “So she came to tell you? If it hurts her then she should stop eating like one and reduce weight.” We had a little confrontation and he accused me of not caring about the health of the kids. “Their size is not healthy, you have to know that. I’m doing all that because of the health aspect and not because I just want them to look thinner. Think about that and start doing something for them since they run and complain to you.”
We agreed to change their diet style and see what improvement can be gained. We cut down sugary foods. No processed and fatty foods. My second one didn’t like vegetables but we encouraged him to eat more vegetables and fruits. Their sleeping hours were also regularized and then we put in some little exercise regimen here and there. Honestly, for two clear months, we didn’t see any noticeable improvement in their weight but we were encouraged to continue until we see changes. Sometimes I had to tell my wife to stop expecting a miracle and face realities but she was bent on reducing their weights significantly.
I travelled for a week on a job assignment. When I came back everything was normal around the house but my seven year kid became more clingy than she used to. One day she said, “If I tell you something will you tell Maa about it?” I said No. She said, “You promise?” I said, “I promise I won’t tell her.” She said, “When you traveled, mom didn’t give us food. When we are going to school she doesn’t give me money. We don’t eat in the morning again. When we don’t go to school, she won’t give us food until afternoon and when we eat in the afternoon we won’t eat again until we sleep.” My heart jumped out of my chest. I told her, “If I don’t talk to your mom how can she stop starving you? I have to talk to her so she changes.” She said, “Then don’t mention my name. She said she’ll kill me if I tell you anything.” That made it worse.
I went ballistic, I must admit. I didn’t go to her to ask questions. I went in for confrontation. I went in with fury seeking to smash than soft-talk my way through. “Why would you starve them? What is wrong with you? Are you ok? Are they so deformed that you have to repair them? You’re an embarrassment. A stepmother should do this to kids and not a real mother. Who raised you?” As I said, I was too angry to be measured with my words. I was too hurt to be controlled. Honestly, how can a mother starve her own children because of their weight?” She denied it. She said she was following what we agreed on to help them reduce weight. She called her kids liars and even cried at some point. But you and I know that kids don’t lie. She said, “If you trust them more than me then take them along when you travel next time.”
The problem is, there are a lot of travels ahead of me and I don’t know how to deal with that. Now, I can’t trust my own wife around my kids—kids she herself gave birth to. We had that argument three weeks ago but she’s still angry with me and the kids. You should see her making breakfast for them. She throws things around and throws the food at them as if she’s being forced to feed an enemy. Anything she does around the kids, especially the first one is done in anger. She tells me she’s ok but it’s only in words but not in action. Our kids now run to me at any given opportunity. You can see they shrink in my absence and only come back to life when I’m around. I’m worried. I’m trying to make amends. I’m trying to make my wife understand but she thinks I’m rather doing the wrong thing. Is that the case? That I’m the one not caring about the health of the kids?