My 4-Year-Old Asks About Diets

In our Daddy Issues series, a father of a young daughter seeks guidance, hoping to raise a strong woman. He looks to our readers for insight.

Sometimes I hate other parents. I'm tired of cleaning up their messes.

So my daughter comes home from a party, strikes a cutesy little pose and looks up with thoughtful eyes.

"Does this dress make me look ... fat?"

What. the. hell.

You're 4. You should only wonder if your dress makes you faster or jump higher or if it coordinates with your lunch box.

Not long after this, Emmeline wanted me to explain what a diet is. She picked this up from school, and while thankfully she didn't say she needed to be on one, I have a feeling this may come some day. Possibly soon. Kindergarten starts next fall and there's no way you can hold off the onslaught of worldly knowledge passed on to younger kids by older siblings or their moronic parents.

How do you get off that roller coaster? Or can you?

Over the summer, my daughter and I read through the Little House on the Prairie series. I loved the wild, curious, seeking nature of younger Laura, compared to her more uptight sister Mary. Laura seemed so intent on adventure — from wading in the depths of Plum Creek to helping Pa stack the hay as winter approached. When she got older, Laura protested against the curse of the corset, admitting she never wore it to sleep, unlike Mary and her Ma.

After reading that chapter, Emmeline wanted to know all about the corset and I tried my best to explain it, but then with each new awkward word slipping from my lips, I had this fear of not only contributing to the roller coaster of self doubt but of sitting in the front car, leading the way. What does a 4 year old need to know about a corset anyway?

"So a corset was kind of like a diet, right?" my daughter asked.

Awesome.

This was not going at all as I had hoped, and when I flashed on images of "moronic parents" my own face came immediately to mind.

I tried to explain that everybody is on a diet — that it's no big deal. No, not that kind of diet — not the diet of not eating. Rather, I told her that diets are merely the menus of food we consume every day. Some people have a diet of fast food and soda pop. Some people eat healthful foods. Animals have diets of meat or plants. I told her it would be silly not to eat and that we have a family diet needed to fuel our fun and work, because what the hell else can you say? Sometimes I hate being a parent.

Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!. His diet consists largely of Ben and Jerry's.

Image by Lauri Apple.