Those two words cause a stir at my house. Whether it is preceded by “Where’s”, “There’s” or the ever-popular “Who’s”, the words “My Fatty” have become a common source of conflict between me and my wife. And me and my mother-in-law. And me and the daycare women. And me and the checkout girl at Food Lion.
To put it simply, no one likes me calling my daughter “My Fatty.” It’ll cause a complex, is the popular argument. Another is that she’s not fat at all, just “healthy.” Sort of like how a baby elephant is “healthy.” I get cold stares when we get together with friends. The girls smack my arm. The guys shake their heads and laugh. My loving wife just shakes her head.
It’s not as if Kaitlyn was large when she was born. I would know. I tipped the scales at nearly 13 pounds at birth. My wife likes to tease that I had plenty of room to grow, considering I was the last of six kids and the previous five stretch my mother’s uterus to the size of a football field.
Kaitlyn was just half my birth weight, but in the forthcoming weeks filled out nicely; sort of how a Thanksgiving turkey fills out “nicely” between April and September. I came to call her “My Fatty” early on because she was, well, a little Butterball.
My brother-in-law calls one of my nieces “Biggie” because she’s got a giant melon. I think it is hilarious hearing a dad call his daughter “Biggie,” especially considering she’s a toothpick like her mother, brother and sister. It’s a term of endearment, one that is cute when the child is young enough not to understand how a complex is formed. That’s the way I see “My Fatty.”
As the months passed and Kaitlyn began understanding words and repeating words, my wife would tell me to curb the use of my pet name. Unfortunately, I never did. I would pick her up from daycare, walk into her room and ask the world, “Where’s my fatty?” She would come running and all was right with the world.
At get-togethers and parties, I would call her to me. “Come here, fatty.” A slew of women would begin taking shots at me, telling me that Kaitlyn would become bitter and sore come the age she understands that “fatty” is not a compliment. By that age, I counter, one of three things will happen:
- Kaitlyn truly becomes a fatty thanks to low self-esteem, developing cankles and excessive arm-flab by the age of 13. By junior year in high school, she is an All-State goalie for the varsity field hockey team because her dimensions match those of the net, making it impossible for the ball to get by. She receives numerous scholarship offers from Division I colleges and universities (all of which include unlimited meal plans). Her prospects of dating are, well, non-existent. Even though she is chubby-cute and vastly intelligent because of her dad’s DNA, she outweighs most linemen for NFL franchises. Overall, she gets a free education and she doesn’t date. Win-win for daddy.
- After listening to her father’s “term of endearment” for too long, Kaitlyn becomes determined to never become fat. In elementary school, she plays outside all day long and learns to roughhouse with the boys. As a teenager, her athletic prowess is unprecedented and she plays varsity sports throughout the year. She receives numerous scholarship offers from Division I colleges and universities. While prospects of dating are good (remember: dad’s DNA), she realizes that dating would merely interfere with her spin class and, thusly, her figure. Overall, she gets a free education and she doesn’t date. Win-win for daddy.
- Her daddy stops calling her “My Fatty” because of outside pressures. Kaitlyn plays on a recreation sports team where everybody receives an award for participation, thus losing any sense of accomplishment. She gets overly excited for fifth-grade graduation, which doesn’t count. She hangs out with boys whose futures include the phrase “Would you like to super size that order?” She hangs on at community college for three or seven years, all the while working at Waffle House, staying in mom and dad’s basement and looking forward to each Pall Mall break.
You tell me: Is “My Fatty” so bad, after all?
James Moffat is a former journalist and the author of Growing Up Kaitlyn. He and his wife, Michelle, have been married for nearly four wonderful years (plus another two) and are the parents of 21-month-old Kaitlyn Riley. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet him @jamesmoffat.