A Frank Discussion

Today, my seniors and I had a discussion about life choices. It’s the second and last semester of their high school careers, and there are moments where there is a sudden change of thought, behavior, and focus within their lives. Today was the first sign that I received that my fifth hour was indeed becoming adults. 

This is my smallest, and my most quiet class of the school day. It’s a class of just 26, but I usually have only 20 of them at a time for different reasons. Today, there was a brief interruption for some of the kids to work on their financial aid, so that left me with around 13 of them. I was preparing to do a lecture on my one my favorite writers, Zora Neale Hurston, when one girl asked me about my biggest life decision, my Lapband surgery. I had taught Alexis last year, and she had been very curious on the process and how the ups and downs were in doing something as drastic as bariatric surgery for health.

“Ms. Mathews, when was the last time you had your band filled?”

I had to pause and think of when it was that I did indeed have the band buddy (that’s what I call it) filled. It had been over a year. I told Alexis that, and she seemed surprised.

“I thought you had to do that at least once every 6 months?”

“No, you only do it if you are getting hungry.”

“You haven’t had a really bad hungry bout hit you? And you have lost weight since last year, do you know that?”

After pausing to think about it, I had to tell her that I had not had one in quite some time. Which was a little odd, because I had to do it around every 8 months the first years of having the band. I thanked her for noticing my hard work of losing more weight.

This, of course, opened the door for more questions from students that hadn’t known me as long as Alexis. It wasn’t a time to ask questions to get out of work; they had looks on their faces of amazement, horror and intrigue with me discussing my life as a Banded Baby. Some had heard that I had done it, others it came as a complete surprise.

I realized during the conversation that none of these kids remembered the former, and way heavier, me. They had not met that woman, and when they asked for pictures of me during my heaviest time, I broke down and showed them. Many were astonished that I was the girl in the picture.

“Naw, that’s not you, Ms. M. It can’t be.” One student, David, was amazed by the picture of me at over 300 pounds.

“I have to tell you, David, that was me around four or five years ago.”

“Do you feel better now?”

I nodded my head to show pleasure in my accomplishment.

“You should be proud of your hard work. You’re a new woman.”

He is right. I am a new woman.

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