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Old 03-28-2013, 09:09 PM   #1
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Default Lani, daughter of a BBW - by The Observer (~BBW, Eating, Romance, ~SWG)

~BBW, Eating,Romance, ~SWG – a contrite formerly controlling mom trades her bias for her daughter’s happiness

Lani, Daughter of a BBW
as told to The Observer


Chapter One - The Setup

Why would a mother, especially one who has faithfully followed the common wisdom about childhood obesity in regards to her youngest daughter, abruptly change course?

This is my answer to the question – along with a description of what happened afterwards.

Lani was our third child and second daughter. Her brother Roger never had any weight issues. However, her sister Linda struggled for years with self-acceptance issues before finally learning how to deal with her slightly larger than average figure in college.

As Lani, five years younger, grew up I recalled the pressure I too had felt in school. I tried to spare her by using all the conventional techniques – controlled portions, only fruits for snacks, no junk food available. It was a subtle but effective approach and Lani was never a problem.

But then two conversations shortly after her 18th birthday changed my viewpoint. I realized that I was controlling her and doing so according to my view of what was best – possibly creating a bigger problem than what I hoped to prevent.

Devon Harris was a unique neighborhood friend to Lani. He was different in several ways – from having a prosthesis for a left leg due to an accident that took the life of his Father at age three to having an IQ so good that he took delight in coaching other students. On our block he and Lani were the best of childhood friends as youngsters, but by high school they traveled in different social orbits. Their social interaction was always with our families or privately, never at school.

Three other classmates were part of Devon’s tutoring sessions at our house. Gretchen Northcutt was the largest but comfortable with her size, thanks in part to boyfriend Anthony Robinson, a nerd like Devon who had an open preference for larger girls. Sheryl Myers was a friend of Lani’s, not really critical of Gretchen but her total opposite in size and prone to comment on it.

I noted that Devon was always cordial to her, but different towards Lani and Gretchen. This I thought I understood. They I figured, both related to him on a more intellectual level – Sheryl was there to advance her grades but tended to make banal comments about celebrities. This bored Devon. Lani and Gretchen actually tried to pump him for knowledge and liked to display their own. Sheryl could care less about such things as how the defects of the Treaty of Versailles led to the rise of Hitler.

But one day I became aware that there was more to Devon’s disdain that merely Sheryl’s airheadedness.The tutoring session was over. Lani had gone one direction with Sheryl. Devon was watching Anthony escort Gretchen to his car. He seemed rather wistful and lost in thought.

“Have a good session this afternoon?” I enquired, snapping him out of his reverie.

“Oh, sure – as always, Mrs Johnson,” he replied politely, obviously shifting gears and covering his tracks..

“You know Lani always enjoys time with you,” I probed. “I wonder at times why you come here every week with the three others but hold back from doing more as a twosome?”.

“I know what you’re getting at,” he confided. “We communicate well, but she has defined her place in the world and I’ve no right to invade a circle where I just don’t fit. So I’m content with what we aready have. Does that make any sense?”

“What do you mean “her place?”" I asked.

“She has her social circle and the people around her define who gets in by their values. I’m wired more like Anthony, if that makes any sense. I’m not a jock who plays the field just to see who I can attach to my trophy chain and know better than to try to faking it. Anthony is a one woman guy who makes his girl knew she’s queen and they’re happy. I’m not sure that Lani’s found that with anyone she’s found so far but its her choice. I’m just happy she’s my friend too.”

I knew full well at Lani wasn’t at all satisfied with those Devon called the “jocks.” She was a virgin and intended to stay that way until marriage. She generally went on group dates because she didn’t trust most guys. Devon I knew was one of the exceptions. But I suspected his reference to Anthony and Gretchen was deeper than he was letting on. My husband Charles had been a closet FA at his age as well. It wasn’t until college that I cracked open his shell.

My chat with Devon was the first conversation – and it led to another with Lani after Sheryl was gone.

“Devon certainly enjoys coaching you and your friends,” I remarked.

“Well, we’re all honor students as a result - even Sheryl. I think he gets a bang out of it because we’re not the most likely crew for that to happen with. Although I wish Sheryl would get off Gretchen’s case.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Gretchen’s whole famly is big, like Linda, but Cheryl thinks that’s hugely important. Anthony and Devon don’t. But she even thinks I need to lose weight – and I’m only 130 something.”

I didn’t want to go there, at least not yet, and kept the subject on course. “Speaking of Devon, the two of you seem pretty compatible. Have you ever thought of getting closer to him?”

“Honestly, at times I think we’re soul mates. We even exchange emails and text messages about things we wind up researching at the same time,. But he thinks I’m in a league of my own socially, so its best that we just be friends. He says Cheryl and her gang would disown me if he treated me like Anthony does Gretchen and I wound up gaining just a few pounds.”

Bang! Suspicion confirmed – Devon had practically told her that he was a closet FA! But I held my tongue.

“Would she – and is that important?” I inquired.

“I’ve no idea – like its ever going to be a issue. I’ve never been weight conscious or had a weight problem – but if I did and she couldn’t handle it then it would just be sayonara – but I doubt that would even happen. She needs the grades. Its Devon that needs to stop fretting and treat me to dinner more if that’s what he likes.”

With that Lani turned and headed upstairs, but I was left thinking. She was too young to be familiar with FAs but I wasn’t. It was obvious Anthony was like my husband and Devon was to some degree as well. He was either too fearful or too much of a gentleman to push his preferences.

Lani was apparently ambivalent about her weight. She didn’t have issues because I was the one controlling the calories. After Linda’s struggle I’d tried to keep Lani away from the entire BBW scene – but had this been an error? I was beginning to wonder, and decided to test the waters.

Chapter Two – the experiment begins

I wasn’t thinking of making Lani fat, certainly not as big as Gretchen or myself or even Linda. I just wanted her to relax enough about food to give Devon some hope, then see whether nature would take its course. I knew this would mean changing the way the way I’d been managing things. I discussed my intuition with Charles and he agreed to let me try.

The next morning I started out gently, with a half dozen scrambled eggs, some tomatoes, avocados and cheese in an omelet along with some links and toast. It was a hearty breakfast, but not greatly different than usual. The difference was that I served it family style rather than in individual portions just to see what would happen. I apologized for the large quantity to which Charles remarked “these things happen - let’s see if we can’t handle it.”

Charles and I each took a third, eating slowly and thoroughly enjoying our breakfast. For Lani it was a bit more than normal. I think it took some effort, but she completed her share as well without complaint. That told me she wasn’t consciously counting calories. I smiled to myself.

Later in the day I found out that a local market was running a special on Stouffers dinners. I picked up some lasagna, macaroni and cheese, creamed chipped beef, Salisbury steak, Welsh rarebit, chicken breasts and even some enchiladas. All these I stashed in the garage storage freezer, planning to use 1-2 per week for the next month. I also picked up some ice cream rolls for the next study session. But I knew I couldn’t just begin changing things too quickly without being obvious. So when I got home I casually left a bag of potato chips out to match some dip in the refrigerator along with the usual snack apple and banana.

Lani arrived home around 4:00 and ignored both the chips and me. She had something to research on the Internet. So I waited abut half an hour, then stuck my head in and asked how things were. After some idle chat I noted that it would be over two hours until supper and asked if she would like something.

“Oh, a grilled cheese sandwich might be nice - after that breakfast this morning my lunch was kinda light,” she replied.

“OK – one sandwich, with milk I assume?”

"Yeah, sure.” came the reply.

A few moments later I served the sandwich and milk, along with a helping of chips. After another half hour I noticed her go to the kitchen and pour out a second bowl of chips.

That evening we had a home made tuna casserole with a small salad. Lani had a reasonable portion, especially considering her afternoon snack, and then I sprang my surprise – an offer of pralines and cream ice cream.

“Sounds great,” said Father, and Lani went along without objection as I ladled out three scoops apiece. She seemed to be enjoying it but I couldn’t tell for sure.

The next moring I mixed eggs, veggies and cheese into a variant of quiche Lorraine, served with sausages and yogurt. I was careful to keep the serving sizes down so as not to destroy her appetite for lunch like the day before. She complimented me on my efforts, prompting me to ask what we should have for supper.

“Oh I don’t know – maybe beef stroganoff?” came the surprise answer. I promised I’d think about it, and of course obliged. I noticed the next afternoon that more of he chips and some of the remaining ice cream were gone.

This was the pattern until the next week’s study session. Somewhere along the way the bag of potato chips got used up and the rest of what had been a half gallon of ice cream had disappeared as well. Somebody was indulging and it wasn’t Charles or I.

I surprised the group with the ice cream roll as a treat. I divided it into five equal portions. Predictably Gretchen, Devon and Anthony were very appreciative while Cheryl was apprehensive over the portion size, but I as mainly watching Lani. She followed Devon’s pacing, initially with a little hesitancy then relaxing as he gently encouraged her. I wondered if she would have an appetite for supper.

I needn’t have been concerned. I used the Stouffers Welsh rarebit to make six Burgers con Queso and invited Devon to stay. As soon as Lani finished her first burger Devon offered to eat one of the two extra ones if she’d match him. This elicited a brief puzzled experesson, but then she said “sure, why not? They’re great and my appetites good.”

The next evening Charles decided that he was in the mood for pizza and ordered two pies from Pizza Hut since they were on a special. There were twelve pieces. Lani had four while Charles and I had three apiece, leaving two for leftovers. I noted the next day they’d disappeared. Someone was snacking - I was pretty sure I knew who and smiled.

The next few weeks followed a similar pattern I promoted breakfast as a time for fostering family unity and communication. Whether it was breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, creamed chipped beef or toast, waffles and eggs or something else I was making breakfast something to wake up to and Lani was enjoying it – even asking sometimes the night before what I was planning and contributing ideas of her own.

The Friday of the third weekend Charles couldn’t resist horning in on my efforts. He impulsively brought home a half dozen donuts as a “treat.” This wasn’t that unusual except usually his treats were one apiece. This left three leftovers after we each had one. By Saturday night they were all gone. Lani obviously was developing a radar for delicacies and I pretended not to notice. Charles, however, began repeating this pattern each week.

The weekly study sessions continued and remained occasions for special treats supplied by myself. Cheryl predictably tried to resist but was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic appreciation of the other three. I suspected Devon realized what as going on but he kept quiet. However, in the fourth week he invited Lani out for an Italian dinner and she accepted. She came back on cloud nine, gushing about what a gentleman he was and how great the food had been. I began to wonder how soon the effects of her improved consumption would begin showing and what her reaction would be then.

It was in the fifth week that Sheryl was the first one to say something. I’d given the group generous servings of pie and ice cream. Sheryl commented that Lani needed to watch it because she wasn’t just eating at the sessions but other times as well. I immediately wondered how she’d figured that out – and then quickly learned that she wasn’t directly referring to my breakfasts and suppers at all. It was a continuation of a prior conversation.

“Sheryl,” Lani said right in front of Devon, Anthony and Gretchen, “if I choose to have dessert at lunch while you’re having a salad those are both individual choices for each of us. I’m not your judge so don’t be you be mine. If I pick up a few pounds its not the end of the world you know.”

“Its not if, its now!” Sheryl retorted. “Not much, probably five pounds, but I can tell and you weren’t skinny to start with. And don’t think I’m not aware of you getting cookies out of the vending machine and donuts after school. I also saw the empty McDonalds St Patricks day shamrock shake cup in your car, which means you probably had a value meal with it. You’re eating more all the time and pushing 140 right now I bet.””

“And this is a problerm for you because?” interrupted Devon. “Lani is over 18 and free to be whatever size she enjoys. I happen to find her very attractive.”

Sheryl seemed astonished at this defense and closed her mouth. For my part I was surprised that no one, particularly Lani, had denied the allegations. Were they possibly all true? Later that evening I asked Lani about the exchange.

“I’ve had a monstrous appetite of late,” she confided, “but since you and Dad and Devon don’t seem to care I’m just considering it a phase and enjoying it. Its not like I’ve been binging or getting huge – Sheryl is acting like the food police, spying on me, then listing things that happened over weeks and making them sound like one afternoon. You don’t mind do you?”

“Not at all,” I replied. “But if you need different clothes just let me know.”

“Good, ‘cause Devon’s taking me to a Mexican buffet Saturday and I plan on getting stuffed! I know he likes me eating just like Anthony does Gretchen – not that I’m likely to catch her. She’s probably close to 200.”

“So you really are 140?” I asked.

“Probably. 137 the last time I looked. Its four months till the end of summer. I don’t plan on looking at a scale again until then,” she declared.

Lani is 5’7” and I knew that at that weight she was well within the normal range – and nearly 80 pounds less than me. It was surprising to hear her speak so casually of being nearly 50% larger – but to her it wasn’t really a goal and I knew that. I had nothing critical to say, but I wondered if I should start making sure more comfort food was on hand. But it seemed that Devon was taking note without meddling from me. I just smiled and gave my daughter a reassuring hug.

Sunday morning Lani slept in. When she awoke I asked how her Mexican stuffing had gone. Turned out that the term buffet was misleading – it referred to the variety of dishes available, not actual “pick your own” choosing. But Lani still had what she called a humongous Laredo plate that included Chicken and beef fajita tamales and tacos served with a cheese quesadilla, queso, tostadas, guacamole, pico de gallo jalapenos, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and tortillas.

“Wow, that’s an impressive list,” I observed.

“Yeah, I made a point of memorizing it to recite to Sheryl,” she replied. “She can put it in her next envy of freedom critique.”

I took time that day to observe Lani’s physique. Her belly seemed a little fuller but I couldn’t see any other obvious signs that Cheryl was right. But that didn’t matter – the important thing was that Devon was taking note.

(continued in post six of this thread)

Last edited by Britt Reid; 09-02-2013 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:05 AM   #2
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no other comments? i like the way this is developing, keep it slow and gradual
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:35 AM   #3
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Agreed, great opening for a story. Looking forward to more.
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Old 03-29-2013, 11:46 AM   #4
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I looks good, so i hope for some other chapters :-)
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:50 AM   #5
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This is a great story I hope it continues soon!
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Old 03-31-2013, 05:23 PM   #6
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Chapter Three - coming together

The next week was the Easter spring break. Lani had decided to use it to scout out a possible summer job. She’d done courtesy clerk work the previous holiday season to help defray her car insurance, so she had experience and good references. As for me I’d made sure some of my known comfort foods, including chilled butterscotch pudding, were in good supply. I was curious what, with time on her hands, might happen.

The first day began predictably, with Lani having chipped beef on toast with her Father and I and then taking off. Her hips seemed to be stretching he seams of her capris, which I noted had to be getting snug. When she got home from her job hunting she went to the computer in her bedroom to work on schoolwork, emerging about 4:00 to explore the pantry and refrigerator. I noted that she’d switched to looser fitting workout clothes for the afternoon.

I went ahead and prepared a supper of meat loaf, potatoes and green beans for supper, noting that two cans of soda had been taken from the refrigerator along with half a bag of pretzels from the counter we’d opened the night before. The butterscotch pudding was untouched – apparently Lani was in a grazing mood and didn’t care to be bothered with a dish and spoon. When supper time came I decided not to serve dessert and see what would happen. Sure enough, around 9:00 Lani asked about the pudding.

“Oh, yes, I made it for dessert tonight but then got preoccupied and forgot. . Help yourself if you want” I replied. She did – with a full bowl that she took to her room.

The next morning I had a special Easter season surprise designed to titillate her taste buds – pull apart Easter blossom bread rolls. I’d done my own surfing and discovered how to twist a rich eggy dough into a lovely floral pattern filled with jam and then drizzled with lemon glaze. This I served with a Amish-style breakfast casserole made up of eggs, hash browns and three types of cheese. The duo I knew was a calorie bomb – but Lani thoroughly enjoyed it. Charles did too, and I told him it was all inspired by my web-surfing. Lani wrapped a third jam-filled bread roll in foil and took it with her on her job hunt.

That afternoon when Lani went to her room I told her that I was working in the kitchen but taking a break to have a grilled cheese sandwich. I offered her one as well. She accepted appreciatively, saying she had had to settle for fast food at lunch to keep to her schedule. That evening I served sliced salmon along with a generous side of Farfalle pasta, including roasted red bell peppers, asparagus and a generous dollop of melted parmigiano reggiano cheese. Again Charles expressed his appreciation directly while Lani did indirectly by virtually inhaling her meal. I told them both that I’d be using the left over salmon with croissants in the morning.

“Mom,” Lani exclaimed, ”with meals like this you know what’s going to happen don’t you?”

“What?” I inquired with some apprehension.

“You’re actually going to make Sheryl’s prophecies come true – not that I really care at the moment," she declared “Your cooking is delicious! I couldn’t stop enjoying it if I wanted to.”

I discovered that she must have been telling the truth when half the remaining butterscotch pudding was gone by 11:00. I finished the rest off myself. This was the pattern for the rest of Easter week. I estimated Lani was probably consuming easily over 3000 calories per day

When the study sessions resumed nothing spectacular happened. For refreshments I served apple crisp with ice cream. Sheryl ate some, but not as much as the others, without comment. But when Charles arrived home near the conclusion he asked Devon if he could see him. It turned out he’d been given a prize by is company – use of the firm’s season ten seat box for a game against the Dodgers in June. He was wondering if Devon wanted to host an outing for his study group.

Devon thought it was great and phoned Anthony, who had already left with Gretchen. Devon of course expected Lani to come with him and I would accompany Charles. But who would accompany Sheryl? Lani agreed to encourage her friend to bring someone to balance things out. She’d drive her car with Devon and Cheryl; Anthony and Gretchen could come with us. I saw the possible strategy in the pairing, but held my peace.

Apparently Sheryl was conflicted over the invitation, because on Thursday I received a call from her mother, Rebecca Myers, who I had met in passing some years before.

“What is this with your family and Sheryl? I understand you’re trying to get her to invite a guy to a ball game with Lani, your husband and some other students. She’s used to being asked, not having to issue invitations. What’s going on?” Mrs Myers demanded

“Well, no one as far as I know says she absolutely has to invite anyone – or even come for that matter. But she’s been part of this study group at our house and deserves to share in the celebration after working so hard. We have the seats so why not include her and a date was my husband’s thinking? Or maybe you think she should just bring one oif her parents instead?” I countered

Rebecca paused, seemingly taken aback at my inclusionary offer. “No, I don’t think that’s an option. Its just that …well you know, teens have their groups...”

“Yes," I replied. " I’ve both been there, done that. But venturing out and doing something different is broadening – has Sheryl ever been to a professional ball game?”

“No, I don’t believe so. She’s basically into music and movies – but I see your point. I think that word you used, broadening, might be part of her concern. The guys she might ask might not appreciate being in a group with someone of Gretchen’s size. I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at,” confided Mrs. Meyers.

“Yes, and as a 200 pound plus college graduate mother I think that attitude is passé,” I replied, fighting back my own anger. Gretchen was big but probably not over 200 and I weighed 220 something myself, which Rebecca was apparently forgetting. But maybe she had been told Gretchen was even bigger, at least in Sheryl’s eyes. “Being fat isn’t a contagious disease or a reflection on anyone’s character. I think Sheryl should break through her prejudices – she even rides my daughter, who is certainly not fat.”

Rebecca Myers sighed, “OK, In my heart I know you’re right. I’ll see what I can do with Sheryl . Surely there must be someone and its only one time.”

That was Thursday. On Friday Lani confronted me and she wasn’t munching on anything. She was all business. “OK mom, what did you do to Mrs Myers?”

“She called and I explained your father’s and my good intentions about including Sheryl at the ball game in June. I think she’s intimidated about having to ask a guy out. That’s all.” I replied half-truthfully, leaving the discussion about Gretchen out. I didn’t want to risk Lani disowning either friend.

“Well, she apparently read the riot act to Sheryl – she either gets off her high horse and finds an acceptable date or her allowance gets suspended for a month. So she’s coming, but not happily. But don’t worry. I think I can handle it,” Lani confided.

“Good,” I smiled. “I’m glad that’s settled.”

“Yes, but there’s something else,” my daufgter said.

“Yes?” I answered, wondring "Where is this going?"

She cleared her throat and shifted nervously. I noticed that she was beginning to sport a nascent belly roll – her pants were definitely snug.“You said to let you know if I needed new clothes? Well, I think the time has come to go shopping. I’m definitely out of my size 8s and my few 10’s are getting snug. It’s a good thing I know Marilyn Monroe was a 12-14 or I might be getting concerned about my appetite.”

I nodded and we agreed to go shopping the next day, which was Saturday. Size 12 seemed to be her preference although it was still kind of loose, but as she commented, she seemed to be in a “growing phase.” Our purchases also included larger tops and brassieres. I wondered if any of Linda’s old clothes might be stored but decided to hold my peace.

We skipped the food court but by the next day Lani was back to her happy self. We had a Tex-Mex supper of home made tacos after pancakes and eggs in the morning. Lani made a burger for lunch and had at least one bow of ice cream during the afternoon while watching television.

Lani must have talked to Devon about Sheryl because at the next session he had an announcement of his own. Of course he cleared it with Charles and I in advance. He anticipated that everyone would do well on their finals and in that honor he was planning on cooking a meal for everyone. And he wanted to extend a special invitation to Cheryl to bring a date of her choice

“Now before you decide,” he proclaimed, “let me share the menu. Spinach and avocado dip with a slew of chips for the appetizer. Entrée will be garlic and cheese mashed potatoes, chicken penne with plenty of sauce so it won’t be dry and for dessert Apple Chimi Cheesecake with ice cream. Its meant to emulate Applebee’s but I’m offering it for free."

“Sounds great,” exclaimed Lani with open eyed enthusiasm. I wondered if she was becoming a bona fide foodie. But Sheryl was not looking happy..

“Yeah, count us in,” agreed Anthony, speaking for Gretchen who was typically quiet about food matters, especially around Sheryl.

I could tell Sheryl was feeling swamped and pressured, so I chimed in. “I didn’t know you were a budding chef?”

“Lani does. Actually it’s a hobby more than a career since with my mom working I’ve had to do some of the cooking for years. I’ve now had two years of formal cooking classes as an elective. This will probably take 4-5 hours but after everyone’s hard work I think they deserve it,” Devon declared.

“Eating all that at one time would make me gain three pounds for sure,” protested Sheryl.

“Who said anything about having to eat the whole thing at one time? Eat what you want and take the rest home,” countered Devon.

“And since its a month away you can just eat especially light ahead of time,” chimed in Anthony. “We would really like you to come.”

I could tell Sheryl was considering her options. With her parents on my side already concerning the ball game she really didn’t have many and so she conceded. Now she had two dates to find!

After everyone had gone home I asked Lani if she really expected that one big meal could change Sheryl’s attitude towards food and weight.

“Of course not,” my daughter replied, facing me with her own developing belly roll even more noticeable than a week or so earlier. She seemed not to even be conscious of it. “Being skinny is what she wants and that’s her right. We just want her to respect those who have other priorities. I for one am tired of being targeted by her and her diet-Nazi friends.”

“I recall what it was like when I was in school and agree with you absolutely,” I affirmed. As Lani walked off towards her room (which I knew included a stash of Girl Scout macaroons) I observed that her hips did appear a tad wider. I was grateful that she now had larger clothes.

The next day I got another call from Mrs. Myers. “I hear the ball game trip has spawned a dinner invitation.”

“True,” I replied, “but not my doing. Devon came up with that one on his own.”

“Sheryl thinks Lani put him up to it, but I’m happy to hear it. She needs a broader range of friends,” her mother said.

“I’ve listened to many of their sessions.” I replied. “Sheryl’s smart, but she doesn’t enjoy serious topics. I hope she doesn’t feel out of place outside her present circle.”

“What do you mean?” came the puzzled response

I had been wanting to say something and finally did.

“Only about two thirds of the study sessions are related to classes. Sheryl eats that part up because she knows it will improve her grades. But about one third involves research and sharing outside the box of the textbook. There I think she feels uneasy because that’s when the barbs start coming.” I informed her

“Barbs?” Rebecca said

“Yes – especially on weight issues. She’ll dig at Gretchen or Lani until Devon or Anthony jumps in. Do you know why she does that? They’re all over 18 and able to run their own lives,” I asserted

“I can’t say. I work on my figure because my husband thinks its important but I never dig at others. I agree its impolite but maybe her Father’s feelings have carried over. Maybe she does need to broaden her circle of friends more than I’ve realized.” Mrs Myers remarked.

“Well, we like her and she’s always welcome, “ I replied simply.

The next few weeks flew by as both the discussion classes and Lani focused on final exams, which all five passed as expected. It was apparent to me that Lani’s belly roll was rapidly becoming both a muffin top in front and a fully developed spare tire around her torso, but apparently her ample bosom didn’t give her the same perspective. In addition to enjoying good sized breakfasts and lunches I knew she was snacking on average twice per day – plus whatever she had at lunch. But Sheryl was suddenly very quiet about what was becoming quite obvious.

After exams came the dinner Devon had promised. Sheryl brought along as her date a tall athletic type named Robert Flynn who I was to learn was the captain of the B football team an slated to head the A team next year. He was also a student body officer and part of a local political family. He initially said very little but was polite. I thought maybe he wa just naturally quiet, but I was mistaken. As the table was cleared he turned to Devon and said “this meal was outstanding Devon – far different what what I was expecting. May I ask why you are hiding this kind of light under a basket?”

“Sorry,” said Devon, “I don’t get what you mean.”

Robert cocked his head, choosing his words. He wanted I could tell to persuade rather than come across as dictating, but he did have an agenda and was dealing with people he didn’t really know.“On our sports teams we learn that different players are best suited for different roles. Some are on offense, some are on defense, and then we have the field goal squad. Do you realize the talent you have? I’m thinking you don’t – but in my opinion you should start using it to both help the school – and also yourself if you neeed a job.”

“How so?” said Devon with some interest, because he was just naturally inquisitive.

“The school holds multi-cultural fundraisers where different people share different cuisines. But the nearest thing anyone does to Italian has been spaghetti and meatballs. This penne Alfredo would be a great addituion – and a nice item on your resume both for service and for a skill. I’m sure Lani would be willing to help you,”Robert declared.

“What about Gretchen?” interjected Anthony. “She’s great with Hungarian dishes.”

“Another possibility,” Robert agreed.”Is that something you’re interested Gretchen?”

“I’ve neer thought about it,” Gretchen stammered. “But I guess I could look into it.”

Sheryl wasn’t saying a word. She appeared confused, even a little upset. It puzzled me and also Robert.

“Is something wrong Sheryl? Have I said or done something,” he asked.

“You’re, you’re just not playing this the way I expected,” she stammered at her escort – or was it her date? “My mom wants me to reach out into other groups, which is fine. And I ask you to come here for support and insyead of asking about me you act like you’re trying to draw them into your circle,”

“Yes, and you find that contradictory? Circles can overlap and strengthen each other – if those within them can respect one another. I came here already respecting what Devon, Lani, Gretchen and Anthony, as well as you have done academically, but I discovered more. There’s nothing wrong with carrying it to the next level.” Robert said holding his ground.

Anthony snickered, “I think that’s the problem. There are some who think nerds and fatties aren’t entitled to a next level.”

“Well that’s just plain wrong – and hopefully Sheryl doesn’t feel that way. I’ve known her for some time and I don’t think she does. But,” Robert said as he turned to Sheryl. “maybe you fear some who do have that attitude?”

“You know full well who I’m fearing,” she bristled.

“Yes, and you need to get past that. These four have done nothing but help you. What have the campus bullies ever done that’s helped anyone? I can tell you that they’ve never helped me on the paths I’ve taken in sports or student government. These are really your true friends and in your heart I think you know it. And yes, I want them as part of my circle too.”

“Robert, I think I owe you an apology,” Devon said quietly.

“How so?” Robert said.

“Your father is in politics and I’ve always thought you were just coasting on his coattails and your athletic ability. I assumed that someone like you would consider a geek like me out of their league, but that was stereotyping. You deserve the jobs you’ve been elected to because you are a true leader - and yes, I’ll do what I can to help your fundraiser. And Sheryl, I would suggest you think about what Robert has said. We are your friends, despite your criticisms of us at times.”

“I know, I know,” Sheryl started sobbing. “But I need time to sort things out, Please – forgive me, but I need some space.”

“Sure,” Robert said compassionately, “I’ll take you home.”

Anthony and Devon looked at each other, then at Gretchen and Lani.

“Looks like you may have cooked more than a chicken tonight – maybe some goose!” commented Anthony.

“Miracles sometimes happen in peculiar ways,” replied Devon. “Do you and Gretchen want to help with clean-up and play a game or do you need to split.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d rather stay,” Gretchen spoke up. “This Hungarian goulash thing is going to force me out of my shell and I need to do something besides study.”

I quietly withdrew. These were young adults finding their way. And I knew that Lani could find and serve any needed refreshments. What surprised me was her statement the next day.

“Mom, stuffing my pie hole has been fun but I can see where this next level business is heading. I’m going to have to learn to really cook as well to keep up with Devon and Gretchen. Will you help me?” she asked.

Of course I couldn’t say no! As summer started I now had an apprentice in the kitchen.

(Continued in post eight of this thread)

Last edited by Britt Reid; 09-02-2013 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 03-31-2013, 06:37 PM   #7
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Another great chapter...I'm not sure I can predict where this is going and the all around character development is great!
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:50 PM   #8
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Chapter Four - summer of growrth

The next week I learned a bit more clearly what Lani had in mind for me to teach. She already had a comfort level doing simple single dishes – an omelet here, meat loaf or casserole there. Such basics weren’t an issue. But she wasn’t confident with fancier entrees or coordinating multiple items efficiently. So we decided to spend a week each on breakfast, baking, salads, red meat dishes, poultry, fish etc. before getting complicated.

Meanwhile life threw in another complication. Lani’s job search efforts paid off. She was offered a job assisting on the local Wal-Mart courtesy desk. It basically amounted to listening to complaints, issuing credits or finding replacements on returned or defective items. This I feared would interfere with both our relationship and that with Devon.

I needn’t have worried. It took her just two days to discover their in-house bakery. It featured luscious fresh apple bear claws, glazed donuts, shortcake, sliced marble loaf cakes, cherry cheese Danish mini-rolls, blueberry muffins and pecan tarts, among other things. She itemized these on what she called a “Breakfast Resource List” and put it in a notebook along with recipes she found on the Internet,

“With this kind of variety you can build all kinds of breakfast menus around quiches and egg dishes,” she proudly informed me as if my generation didn’t already have similar aides. “Why not let me try while you advise and we’ll see if Dad can tell whether it was me or you?”

“Well,” I replied, “we could do that, But I suspect you have a dual agenda?”

“Well, sort of, yes,” she confessed. “Devon wants to make a hit with Robert and I’m thinking that some of these fresh baked goods would go great with quiche or eggs or maybe breakfast casseroles. So if we try them out first we’ll know which ones work best.”’

“OK,” I agreed, “But have you made your first quiche yet?”

“Well, no, but I suspect you intend to have me doing that.” She smiled.

“Yep,” I said, “the key to making a great quiche isn’t just ingredients. Its timing. You want to remove it from the oven when it's just barely set, then let it cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. That means the table needs to be set and anything else timed to come together when the quiche is ready. And those yummies from Wal Mart will be great when you’ve mastered things and invite Devon over to show off.”

“Devon says quiche is great dumping ground for leftovers,” Lani observed. Obviously they had been discussing this topic since she got her job. Fear number one quashed.

“Bluntly spoken but true,” I concurred. “That’s where I sometimes put vegetables and meat from the night before. But you can make them from scratch as well and that is where you can get creative. Omelets are the same way.”

The next day – and the two days afterwards as well – we practiced with different quiches. And since she’d brought them home we included the Wal-Mart pastries. I noticed that the packaging was usually an odd number for three people, so there were usually 1-3 left over items, but Lani seemed able to handle those in the evening. It was obvious that her appetite was intact. The next week we worked with omelets and did some light baking instead of relying on Wal-Mart. I thought it good that she knew how to bake cornbread and homemade muffins.

The third week of summer we invited Devon over for breakfast by Lani. What surprised me wasn’t the food, which turned out fine, but Lani’s outfit. She wore shorts with a light blue and white striped camisole top. The effect was to draw attention to the pudge of her thickening belly and her growing butt. I suspected it was for Devon’s enjoyment. He seemed to get the message and gave me a half smile. For my part her shorts allowed Lani’s legs to be exposed and I noticed that her formerly svelte runner’s thighs were definitely filling out and getting thicker.

All went well at breakfast. Afterwards Lani changed into her less attention-drawing Wal-Mart uniform, which still clung somewhat tightly. We looked forward to the ball game which was coming up the next weekend. Robert, as we had suspected, would be Sheryl’s date again.

We divided the eight of us up into two cars per Lani’s plan. This gave me a chance to interact with Anthony and Gretchen. I found out that they appreciated what my Charles was doing but were apprehensive about Sheryl. Gretchen was also concerned about Lani.

“I know she wants to make an impression on Devon, but she’s really packing it on Ms. Johnson. Doesn’t it bother her – or you? I know what it can be like when people start teasing,” she inquired.

“It can be rough Gretchen,” I acknowledged. “I wasn’t skinny in school either, and tried for years to shield her. But she’s heard it from me and seen what happened with her sister, so she knows the score and has to take her chances. Personally I think she can handle the critics. And she still isn’t really very big – although I am beginning to wonder where she’s headed myself.”

“She wants to make 160 and size 14 by September – I’m size 20,” Gretchen confided. “She thinks then Devon will begin treating her like Anthony does me and where it goes after that is anyone’s guess.”

“And its working,” noted Anthony. “He’s already dating her more and looking after her on campus along with Robert’s posse.”

“Posse?” I said startled.

“Yeah, He has friends who keep an eye out for bullying and try to stop it. He says bullying and teasing is what people with no life do to cover for their insecurities. If you have goals you don’t have time to bully and tease others,”

“A wise young man,” Charles observed. “So I take it this same posse also tries to get students involved with goals?”

“Exactly.” replied Anthony. “I think Sheryl may be beginning to get the message. We’ll see in the fall whether she joins any clubs or stays with her clique. It takes courage to step out.”

“Like us, right?” Gretchen said. “We’ve been a clique of two and Robert is bringing us into the mainstream.”

“Touché,“ acknowledged Anthony. “But I don’t think we were bullying or teasing anyone..We’re just sharing your culinary heritage with people who’ve never heard of it. I’m looking forward to it now after being a little scared at first.”

We arrived at the ballpark and watched the game, sharing hot dogs and soda as we did so. Lani was noticeably larger than Sheryl. I wondered if she might already be approaching what Gretchen said was her goal eight weeks from now. But not even Sheryl seemed to be paying attention to that because she was focused on staying close to Robert.

When the game was over Robert asked Charles quietly whether we’d made any plans for supper.

“Not really,” replied my husband,

“Well, I’m grateful for what you’ve done for this group. Now I’d like to treat both you and them to a pizza and wings dinner, if you don’t mind,”’ he declared.

“Do you have any idea how much that could cost?” I blurted.

“Yes m’m,” he answered, “and don’t be concerned. I have a job and do this type of thing occasionally to honor people who deserve it.”

With that we informed the others and were off to a pizza chain outlet called Shakey’s. I noted that Robert without batting an eye broke out a hundred dollar bill to pay for the order. The atmosphere was noisy with no chance for serious conversation and none was attempted.

We all had access to as much chicken and pizza as we wanted plus a lightly stocked salad bar which only Sheryl used. I noticed that despite being the largest Gretchen actually ate no more than Sheryl or myself – but Lani easily kept up with Devon and Charles. Robert and Anthony were in between.

Lani enjoyed her summer job and, as I suspected would occur, began taking advantage of the in-house McDonalds at lunch, favoring particularly their new chicken McWraps.. There was no time for afternoon snacking, but at home she made up for it at night using the leftover pastries from breakfast.

The difference was that I now knew it was deliberate – part of what she had meant back in late spring when she said she wasn’t getting on a scale again until summer’s end. But I could see the results – her thighs and arms were becoming noticeably fuller and her belly was steadily developing. By August her clothes were getting tight again and I was sure she’d be needing at least a size fourteen wardrobe for school - probably sixteen.

Fortunately Devon was responding as intended. In addition to what became a weekly breakfast visit he began taking her places on the weekend and was much more attentive. Sheryl and her cronies weren’t in the picture and Devon was laying plans with Robert and sharing them with Lani. Anthony and Gretchen I assumed were doing likewise.

I noticed that Devon’s weekend suggested dates followed a pattern – food, exercise and some sort of intellectual stimulation, whether a hike to a state park or using rented cycles on the beach. Lani told me that this emphasis on physical activity was deliberate – Devon maintained that larger people needed muscles to carry themselves and move about or they lost energy. That is a key they’d learned from Anthony and Gretchen, who were frequently their double dates and came from larger sized families.

“I don’t know whether it would be true but I wonder if Sheryl and her buddies could cycle ten miles,” speculated Lani one morning. “The first time I tried we had to rest half a dozen times. I was sore for two days but Gretchen was poised to go. Now none of us stops unless there’s something to look at and it feels good.”

What Lani didn’t know is that Rebecca Myers and I were in communication. I knew that Robert’s friendship with Sheryl was just that, one more involvement in a busy life that touched dozens all over campus as he tried to bring people together. He wasn’t committed to anyone, particularly Sheryl and she couldn’t fathom why.

He’d told the answer to anyone who was listening. He had at least six years of college ahead of him. His family’s expectations involved long-term goals set by his Father and Grandfather before him and he expected to eventually outdo them, but in a right way. This kind of long range goal setting was beyond Sheryl’s radar, and both her mom and I knew it.

The problem is that the other four young people understood Robert’s shorter term goals as stepping stones for themselves - accomplish what you can today for and with others, then see what opportunities develop. But Sheryl hadn’t gotten the message – which had nothing to do with anyone’s waistline.

“What can we do?” Rebecca asked.

“Just let her know she’s wanted and welcome until she comes around,” I replied. “I’ve told Gretchen and she understands that there is nothing to be gained by fighting back with reverse exclusion now that she’s become mainstream. Lani of course is the one who cares most because Sheryl’s been a friend for years. Its too bad Sheryl doesn’t want you to help her with anything but that’s the way teens can be.”

“I know,” Rebecca sighed. “Its all about her peers and what they’ll think.”

“Maybe she should think for herself and lead them,” I suggested. “Think on that. That’s what Robert did with Devon and Anthony – they thought he was in a different league until he recruited them and showed what they could contribute. ”

That conversation had been three weeks earlier and none of the young people knew of it. But Rebecca did think on what I had said. She passed on to her daughter what she knew of the outings of her former study session mates. Now she asked if perhaps Sheryl could be included in an outing – forcing her to again get a date, probably Robert.

“If she sees a group of bigger students in better condition than her maybe she’ll wake up and start thinking,” her mom said.

“It might work. Let me talk to Lani and Devon at breakfast next Monday,” I replied.

Devon deferred to Lani, who agreed to extend the invitation, but I could tell neither held out much hope. But if Sheryl expected to be part of their sessions their Senior year she could hardly refuse entirely. But they thought the idea that she’d try to lead her circle of friends was expecting a bit much. I knew it was a long shot as well.

The ace in the hole was Robert, who by now was working closely with Devon. He too was apprehensive but willing to participate, and as a football letterman his physical condition was excellent. They agreed on a five mile each way cycling and outing. Robert invited Sheryl himself.

Sheryl it turned not hadn’t been on a bike or five years – nor doing much at all physically all summer. She’d taken summer school classes in the mornings and lazed about her friends pools in the afternoon, eating little but exercising even less. But she thought she could do five miles, wondering if Gretchen could even do it.

She got the surprise of her life when Anthony and Gretchen took the lead position with Devon and Lani in the rear, she and Robert sandwiched in between. The guys had knapsacks with the picnic lunches strapped to their backs,

Anthony and Gretchen started off gently but quickly picked up the pace knowing that there was an uphill grade that would make it harder to travel the distance in an hour’s time. Twenty minutes in they began pulling away from Sheryl, who was feeling fatigued and slowing down. Robert slowed to match her pace, at which point Devon in the rear saw her flagging. He called for a rest stop and the leaders wheeled back.

No one criticized Sheryl directly but Gretchen expressed concern and a fear of not making it on schedule if they took too long a break. She obviously didn’t need or want one. According to Lani’s account Sheryl was still breathing heavily while Gretchen seemed as fresh as Robert.

“It is probably a good thing to rest – there’s a mild grade coming up and if it takes a few extra minutes no big deal,” Anthony said, feeling for Sheryl. After ten minutes she seemed ready to go. But at the top of the grade twenty minutes later she needed another rest.

Gretchen said nothing but her incredulity was obvious. She outweighed Sheryl by at least 70 pounds but was ready to press on. Lani was at least 30 pounds heavier and was of the same mind. Sheryl was not the one with a belly pressing against her thighs yet she was the most weary. She felt humiliated.

So they rested, and finally completed the ride in thirty minutes more time than was slated. The scenic view was sensational, the food great and thankfully no one focused on Sheryl’s distress. Coming back it was all downhill and no rest stops were needed.

I reported the events of the day to Rebecca who was amazed. I told her that if Sheryl shared things with her she should make a point of suggesting the use of wisdom when judging a person by their size. She said she understood.

What shocked me was that two days later, while Lani was at work I received a call from Sheryl asking if we could talk. I invited her over

“My mom says you know what happened last weekend,” she said. “It wasn’t good and I guess I‘ve learned a lesson. I’ve always thought I was better than people who were bigger and I’ve been taught a lesson.”

“Well, if you’ve come to that conclusion on your own that’s a good thing , but I don’t think that’s what anyone was especially trying to teach,” I replied.

“Robert agrees with you, but says the lesson was there, and he’s right. I’m sorry that I let others dictate my values and I’m going to try not to pre-judge anymore,” she said sincerely. “But he also says I should learn to find myself and set my own short and long term goals. How do I do that?”

“You can’t talk with your mom about this?” I inquired.

“I’ve tried, but she says she focuses on pleasing my Dad and I have to please myself, whatever that means,“ came the answer. The poor girl was trying but still not getting it.

“It means you can’t be her, or me, or Robert – but just yourself. You choose who you want to be and why, then be faithful to it. God is the one who sets the important ultimate boundaries and within them we have a lot of individual latitude to choose.” I counseled.

She nodded, I wasn’t sure with how much understanding, but it encouraged me to continue.

“It also means you respect the choices of others within those boundaries. You mom and dad have made theirs, Charles and I have made ours, so have Lani and Devon and Gretchen and Anthony. Once you’ve defined yourself you’ll learn what it means to give and love and you’ll likely find someone to live your life with. Making choices just to make others happy doesn’t do it.”

I felt that she was perhaps getting the point. She looked me in the eye and said “Thanks, Mrs. Johnson. I’m glad you don’t hate me and I hope I understand. I’ve a lot to think about.”

I too was thinking – but about Lani. What had been a somewhat loose fitting, even baggy, leopard top several months before still fit. Now, however, it was snug. One could easily discern her developing love handles. It formerly came several inches below the waist band of her slacks; now it rode on the edge and her Comforteeze under-blouse was shielding a developing belly roll. My daughter was definitely becoming quite the chubster, and seemed almost proud of it.

I was happy Devon agreed.

Last edited by Britt Reid; 09-05-2013 at 10:14 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 04:29 AM   #9
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Really happy to see a new piece. I was beginning to think the story was abandoned! Really excited to see all the character development and where this is headed!
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:02 PM   #10
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Abandoned when it only began three weeks earlier?

Hardly!

But this was my original intended stopping point and I for some reason missed your post in April. Now I'm wondering what more could/should be done.
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Old 09-05-2013, 06:46 PM   #11
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I guess no where really I was just thinking it could be developed a little further into the future.
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