People watching: The chubby little girl at the Novotel


I don’t mean to sound creepy, but I do like a good people-watching session from time to time.

When it does happen, it’s normally when I least expect it; like when I was supposed to be watching what was supposed to be an epic game of Football. And which consequently, wasn’t.

Was the Roosters mediocre performance a cruel reflection of the thoughts going through my head? Perhaps. But you’ll have to know what they are before you can make a sound decision.

It was just this past Easter Sunday, after a few good and totally tiring hours at the Easter show, I was savoring the air-conditioned break that the Novotel lobby brought. The Roosters game was on the telly and I had a sparkling cider in front of me, it was pretty much a state of bliss.

Then a normal-looking group of people came in. Three mothers and like 5 girls. I didn’t take much notice at first, but after making quite a ruckus with their showbags, I got a little fixated on one of the little girls.

She would have been no older than 10 or 12. I can’t really tell these days when they get older than 8 or 9, but she was definitely a loud one.

She was wearing denim shorts and a little crop top that displayed more often that not, a pretty distinguished belly for her age. My inner self gasped and yelled ‘cover up!’ I looked at her mother to see if she was at that exact moment realising what a terrible mother she was for allowing her child to look that way – and I was momentarily surprised when she wasn’t, and was instead talking to the other mother about ‘Evie’s horse riding lesson on Sammy.’ I could only imagine that Sammy was the horse.

The little girl seemed to have her hands permanently in a bag of salt and vinegar chips for the next 10 minutes, only stopping for a shot of sherbet or a mouthful of pink lemonade – without even taking a breath. I couldn’t stop watching her, and despite incessant nudges from Mr. NQC ‘watch the game, honey!’ I couldn’t break my stare.

I vowed that my kids would ‘never, ever eat that crap’ and that I’d never allow my kids to look that way. Weren’t we all aware that that is how all bullying starts? And that it’s not the kid’s fault, it’s the lessons they learn from their parents?

The thing that shocked me the most if just how much she didn’t care. The little girl, that is. She was trying on her plastic showbag ring and flipping her hair around like she was ‘Miss Thang’. I envied her carelessness.

It was a weird feeling. Half of me feeling sorry for her, half of me envying her. I wanted to tell her to ‘put the chips down’ and ‘get a water instead, it’s better for you and cleanses your system’. I knew that if I did she’d thank me one day. “And I owe my amazing body to that incredible girl at the Novotel 10 years ago who told me I was chubby and to stop stuffing my face and leaving crumbs all over the floor.”

I think the other thing that disappoints me now is how I wondered what the mothers were thinking. I think watching shows like Dance Moms with pushy parents has made me a little retarded when it comes to real life. I was thinking, ‘Why aren’t you more aware that your little girl is chubby and stuffing herself with shit?’ Why are you not ON TOP of this?! Like it was the most important thing in the world.

When I think of myself now, I think about how often I don’t reach for that last dim sim, or fear of looking like a pig. I think back to my childhood, and how I grew up on pink lemonade, isn’t it every child’s right to down the delicious pink drink? I also loved me (and still do!) some cheese and onion chips – and you know what, I turned out okay! I’m not thin, but I’m not not overweight.

The thing I’ve taken from this is that kids should get to be kids for as long as they can – and as parents, it’s up to us to give them the right tools to make the right decisions in all areas of life, including what they choose to put in their mouths. While I think it’s definitely okay to have the odd pink lemonade and splurge on a few packs of Wizz Fizz from time to time, it is all about balance. I wouldn’t consider much past a pack of McNuggets when I was a kid, and now with WAY more culinary options, parents aren’t so limited in what they can feed their little ones. Things like sushi train (what, with the whole MOVING train thing) can be the new ‘treat’, instead of the McNuggets I was always bribed to behave with.

The most important thing I took from Sunday is how little time the little girl I saw on Sunday will spend thinking about any of the things I spent so long thinking about – and I hope she gets to stay that way for as long as she possibly can.