How does one tell a neighbour that her daughter might have an eating disorder/is plain greedy/really needs attention (choose your diagnosis)? Does one? Do I keep my counsel? Do I reexamine my own prejduces before I attempt amateur diagnosis? What do I do?
One of my daughters playmates is a very bright, incredibly social and portly little girl, precocious in all senses beyond her tender chronological age. The kid comes over all the time and eats dinner with us atleast 2 or 3 times a week. I keep an eagle eye on the girls as they play... because... well, I have learnt to. She is a sweet kid but one aspect makes me wonder if there is a problem somewhere... with her or my perception.
This child eats, eats, eats, eats and eats some more. She demands, yeah demands.... second, third and fourth helpings at dinner and a big man sized snack every half an hour. She will eat both healthy and unhealthy things in termendous volumes. Without permission, she opens and rummages through and ransacks all my pantry and kitchen cabinets; is the first to open all entering grocery bags and knows the insides of my freezers and refrigerators intimately. In the past year or so, she has begun to sneak food if she thinks no one is paying attention. When she leaves our house, her pockets are bulging with cookies and sundry snacks that she has tries ineffectively to hide. I tell you this child eats much more than a grown man perfoming heavy manual labor. I feel awfully petty saying this, but sometimes I really think she will eat us out of my grocery budget. It has been this way since the kids were toddlers together. The kid displays plenty of energy and runs around but is obviously heavy.
The sneaking of the food really bothers me. It does. More than anything else.
I dont know if her parents will ever acknowledge there is a problem at all. How do I know this? Well, the mom jokes all the time about not needing a dishwasher in the house because the kid cleans her plate at every meal and is not a fussy eater. I tried to bring up the topic a couple of times, but she just kind of laughed it off. The housekeeper cooks a lot.... good, oldfashioned Italian home cooking. I know that she feeds the kid well, and no one is being starved in that house. The household seems quite normal apart from the kids being a little too materially indulged. It is a typical family in our neighbourhood.
I wonder sometimes if it is my own cultural prejiduces that make me irritated with this gluttony and sneaking of food. Then I think ... not... because visiting friends and the husband also see this. So why dont her parents see it?
I have lived in this country for a very long time. I am married into the culture for a very long time. But then I am still wary and sometimes unsure of how to say the difficult things. Unsure of what will be acceptable and what will not. Sometimes cultural rules are so hard. I wonder if I should even say it out. open and loud, or will it be construed as getting into someones childrearing business.
I know that I would like to know if my child had a problem like that. It would disturb me and make me feel somewhat defensive, but I would still like to know.
I am just so disturbed by what happened at dinner tonight. Oh the typical, and then the cookies fell out of her pockets when I walked her back home after dinner.