Thursday, May 14, 2009

Child Abuse...

No, TheBoy didn't push me to get the belt. I saw a different form of child abuse the other night, and have decided to chuck caution to the wind and expound on it a bit. You see, TheBoy just got promoted in swimming to the next rank up, having been on the edge of "Minnow" and "Fish" (beginner/intermediate and full-blown intermediate, for those not versed in the YMCA's grading system for swimmers) for a while now. Baseball season is currently in full swing, and his team practice and Monday night games were preventing him from attending either of the two "minnow" classes offered.

We were going to simply pull him out of swimming lessons entirely, as he would have missed last Monday's lesson as well as next week because of a baseball game, then a week in June when we go to Disney. The instructor mentioned that she'd been thinking of promoting him, and that there was an advanced class ("Fish") on Tuesday nights (when we currently have nothing scheduled). Bingo! We have a plan. Yay! Well, I brought him to his first lesson Tuesday night. The Fish class is larger than Minnow, as there is only one class as opposed to three. Two things immediately jumped out at me: 1. TheBoy is the smallest boy in the class, as he's a good year or two younger than the rest; and 2. He's the only boy and one of 3 children not borderline obese.

Now, I'll take a break here to interject that I know I'm biased. I'm a recovering food addict lardass, having spent most of my adult life and all of my childhood as "portly", "chubby", "chunky", and any other euphemism for "fat tub of goo" you can dream up. I've been there, the kid too ashamed of his rolls of fat to take his shirt off at the water park; the kid always picked last for dodgeball because he presents the largest target (and is therefore the first one hit and out). But every other boy in the class was overweight; all but one appeared to be obese. Three out of the six had bellies that rivaled the most stereotypical beer-swilling redneck. The girls in the class were marginally better, with two in the "normal" weight category, another two as mildly overweight, and two outright obese. Maybe it's the cranky old man in me coming out, but I do not remember kids being that heavy when I was a kid - and believe me, as "that kid", I would have remembered if most of my classmates were fat like me. And even at that, I was never obese like these kids - I could see my toes.

Why are so many of these kids overweight? Studies put the number of obese kids today at up to 1/3 of all children - this is not just one or two kids in a classroom; this is like 8-10 kids in any given classroom. It's particularly vexing given the palate-boggling array of low-calorie options available in this day and age; it's not terribly difficult to prepare tasty, low-calorie meals. There are many possible reasons: too much time spent in front of TV watching Spongebob or playing PS3; too many trips to McDonald's because the drive-thru is easier than cooking; fear of damaging Junior's fragile self-esteem leads to an utter inability to say no...

In any case, it's just plain wrong.

There's a point at which you need to step back, take stock, and say, no, I'm sorry, we can't go to McDonald's tonight. No, you can't watch any more TV today; go outside and play. We need to remember that being the adult means you need to say no; you need to make the unpopular decisions; you need to be the authority figure rather than the BFF. Rather than let your child devolve into Jabba the Kid, put 'em on a treadmill. Hand 'em a Huffy, point to the street, and tell 'em not to come back until there is noticeable wear on the tires...

Movin', movin', movin'... Keep them kiddies movin'...

That is all.

12 comments:

Bitmap said...

I saw a boy the other day about 8 years old. He had a roll of fat at least 4" thick around his middle. His dad had him in front of a vending machine letting him pick out more fat stuff. I wonder how the kid got so fat.

My kids actually like fruits and vegetables.

Epijunky said...

I couldn't agree more. I was not a chubby kid, because I actually played outside. Something that so many of the kids of today are lacking.

It makes me sick.

That being said, at least these kids are getting some sort of physical activity through the swim program. Mom and Dad need to get them away from the computer/wii/tv set and outside more.

Brad_in_MA said...

Epi,

My 8 1/2 year old is the product of two heavy parents. Don't badmouth the Wii -- at least the wii sport piece. After 25 or 30 minutes of the stuff, my kid's clothes are drenched from sweat. It can, and does, provide quite the partner for a vigorous workout. As for the rest, abuse can take many forms. Jay -- you're spot-on in your observations.

- Brad

Epijunky said...

Brad, I stand corrected where the Wii is concerned. Truly.

My apologies. You can get a great workout on that thing (and have fun doing it), which is so important!

Thanks for setting me straight!

"Zack" said...

I've noticed the trend of parents and schools objecting to kids being "hyper active". When I was young, ALL kids were "hyper active"; kids were kids and bicycled or ran everywhere.

There are plenty of kids in our neighborhood but you would never know it, they are all inside most of the time.

Weer'd Beard said...

+1 the Wife is HARDCORE into the Wii fitness games (she just got a new one last night, but I haven't tried it yet) She was an inactive child and an inactive adult, now for the first time in all her life she's getting in good shape. In part its from Yoga, we have an Elipitcal, she does some weight training, and into power walking, but the Wii has been a HUGE boon for her.

I was a Video Game kid growing up. I got fairly chunky in elementary school, but the folks threw me outside, and enrolled me in various sports so the damage was minimal. Still if I had been left to my druthers I would have been a BLOB in front of the Nintendo.

Still what will this result in the Wii generation?

I can't wait to see.

Christina RN LMT said...

Excellent post, Jay. I have to say that I don't see as many fat teenagers as I do younger children. It really disturbs me to see overweight toddlers, though. There's absolutely no excuse for that. The parents' fault, all the way.

Brad_in_MA said...

Epi, Others,

Allow me to expand upon my first post to this thread. While the Wii does have some games which make you work like hell, it also sports many other games which rate an 11 on the couch-potato meter. No apologies necessary -- my answer was incomplete.

- Brad

Lissa said...

I used to work mornings at Dunkin Donuts and I encountered the same disturbing phenomenon. Often the parents were overweight as well, so I suppose "they might not know any better" . . . but it was always distressing to hand over a double-sausage-egg-and-cheese to a ten-year-old weighing 150 lbs.

Climb trees, ride bikes, play tag, break out that archaic Skip-It, stick-in-the-mud is wicked fun, as is Shark-and-Minnows -- active games are awesome!! If you MUST involve TV, make it TV tag :)

Anonymous said...

One of the problems is that many parents won't LET their kids play outside for (overblown, IMHO) fear of abduction, etc.

RW said...

What we today call "exercise", I called "playing" as a kid. The culprit: lazy parents who let the television/playstation/Wii serve as babysitters.

I'm not in the "it's the pizza & big Macs" crowd; kids have metabolisms that are thru the roof, provided they don't sit on their arses all day & play video games.

I know, as the parent of an autistic kid who has seen him go 6 straight hours on a game, they love 'em. But, there is more to life than a quite hour or two for you; it's their health.

Ross said...

Jay, I just got back from a week at Disney, and the amount of fat kids there was amazing. And the percentage of fat kids with fat parents was noticeable - if Mom and Dad don't know from portion control, the kids won't, either.

And that Disney Dining Plan, where they practically PUSH dessert on you... stay away from it. Never saw so many Jewish mothers in my life. (And no, you can't substitute a salad for a dessert on the DDP, either). But if you fail to have dessert, or take a second drink with breakfast, they will NAG you until you take it just to shut them up.)