I sat at the table, holding my bowl of oatmeal in my hands, taking carefully calculated...bites? Could they even be called bites? I stirred the spoon around until some oatmeal stuck to both the front and back of it, shook most of what had stuck off, and then put it into my mouth, scoop-side down, to lick off the few oats that had had the bravery to remain stuck on the spoon. I had measured out exactly 100 Calories worth into the bowl, and today was a 100 Calorie day. I wanted to make those few Calories last as long as i could.
The little girl my mom babysat stood next to me and stared. That was normal; she was always staring at me, even when i was acting normal. "Go play toys," i told her. I didn't want her learning disordered eating from me.
She didn't budge, nor did she answer me. She just stood there and stared at me with a blank expression.
Ana laughed at her. "Don't push her away; a little bit of me would do her good."
"Ana," i cried, horrified. "She's only two!"
"Have you seen her eat?!" Ana defended herself. "Every time someone goes into the kitchen she squeals 'i hungry; eat!' and then she only wants to eat junk."
It was the truth, but still. "Have a little pity, Ana," i said. "Ashley, go play toys!"
The little girl blinked and then ran away, hollering my mom's name. "I hungry; eat!" she shouted, even though she'd just eaten five minutes ago.
"See?" Ana said smugly.
I ignored her--secretly thinking that she was completely right; that kid was going to be obese--and continued licking the oatmeal from my spoon. By the time i was halfway through the bowl, i was full and it was cold, clumpy and disgusting, but i finished it off for no other reason than the fact that "clean your plate" had been ground into my brain. "Why do you suppose parents do that to their kids?" i asked Ana. "It's just plain cruel."
She just shrugged. "How should i know? I spend my time trying to get people to overcome that."