I was catching up on Mad Men episodes and Peggy was making a pitch to the partners about a Fast Food Restaurant. As she pitched she mimicked a little girl saying “I’m Starving.” It caught me off guard because my husband and I have been very intentional about teaching our children not to say “I’m starving”. Some people think this is silly, I think it’s important.
It started something like this, “Mommy, I’m STARVING” my 6 year old would say a half hour before dinner. Or she would wake up in the morning, “I need some breakfast, I’m STARVING”. And yes, the emphasis is on starving every time.
So one day, I asked her to stop.
“Honey, you’re not starving, your just hungry.”
It took a lot of explaining. Hunger is a feeling, your stomach growls, you’ve just come home from school, or up first thing in the morning- it’s “time” to eat. There are many things that tell you that you are hungry. When we are babies we cry at the hunger pains, as parents we feed our children, as they grow they get “stuffed” at the table until it’s time for dessert and then suddenly they have room in their tiny tummies.
We are even worse as adults. As Americans we barely even reach the feeling of hunger, it is rare we actually get to the point that our stomach growls, if we haven’t eaten in the last three hours we “need to eat” something as it seems we are depriving ourselves.
So my darling child (and my darling self) you are not starving. You are hungry or something just sounds good to you.
If you have eaten today or yesterday you are not starving, if you have food in your fridge and have access to a meal you are not starving. This is what I teach my children. Maybe it’s just semantics to you, maybe this language doesn’t matter, but it does to me. I do believe that my children will grow up to have a better understanding and more compassion for a world in which children do needlessly starve everyday when there is enough for everyone. The generations before them might be trying, but they might actually be able to do it.
There is enough, I would love to see “starving” go into the same vault as polio and small pox. I would love to see it eradicated, and that starts by teaching the youngest among us what it means that they are privileged to have eaten several times today.