Tough to be a Kid

I don’t have children, and barring some extremely unlikely situation (alien implantation, last woman on earth), probably won’t. Still, even I cannot miss the gajillion news stories a day about the childhood obesity epidemic.

Since I’m dealing with my own obesity epidemic, I usually don’t pay the stories much attention other than registering their existence.

Yesterday, however, we gave a 4th grader a ride to soccer practice. He was running late, which he didn’t seem to mind, he told us, because the longest kick contest the coach was having (with candy as prizes) would be played at the end of practice. Since this kid was levitating in our back seat area because of the sugar he’d just downed at a birthday party, I didn’t think he’d be interested in even more sugar after running around outside in the Texas heat, but he seemed excited.

I played the annoying, inquisitive grown-up, quizzing him about school. Favorite class? Language arts. Favorite book? Not really reading any. (4th grade? I know they must be reading books by 4th grade.) But favorite teacher got somewhere. This teacher allows students who get the correct answers to pick a piece of candy out of a big box of treats he keeps in the room. And, he often makes his favorite cookies, butterscotch toffee, for the class. Considering that school has been open for all of a month, I wondered what a 4th grader’s definition of often was.

It just seems like an awful lot of sugar for coaches and teachers to be handing out, doesn’t it? This kid is the only one among his siblings who is a little chubby. I’m pulling for him, but it does seem like he’s already got an uphill battle. Poor kid. Hope the soccer practice stays fun for him even when there aren’t furthest kick/candy prize competitions.

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2 Responses to Tough to be a Kid

  1. That sounds awful! It seems like these adults just don’t want to deal with the actual job of teaching or coaching. Teaching is HARD. Maintaining a child’s attention is not easy work. Not everyone can do it and fewer can do it well. I don’t ever remember getting candy at school.

    These habits the children are picking up are only doing a diservice to them. They’ll learn to reward themselves with food – what happens when life gets tougher, do you keep rewarding yourself with more and more sugar? Where will that get them? This actually saddens me. It’s setting these children up for disappointment and struggle for the rest of their lives.

    • Exactly. I managed to create my own sugar-reward cycle and it has not served me well – if I’d been plied with it all day at school, I’d really be a mess now. My 4th grade teacher made us do an exercise routing every snack break! Imagine if that’s the habit I had picked up as a child. I’m going to ask about it the next time I see this little guy’s parents. I really wonder if the school & other parents know this is going on. Maybe the teacher needs a mentor. Or a new job!

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