Sunday, November 23, 2008

Unmitigated bitchiness

I'm at Starbucks doing some work, and I'm next to this family. Three generations, really loud. On the table is about 5 thousand calories of sugar and fat, split among four people. The ten year old, really overweight girl, keeps whining to her father to give her more solid chunks of chocolate to melt into her drink because it's too bitter. It's a venti mocha--that is, a coffee drink. It's bitter because it's coffee. It's okay though, what with the chunks of chocolate to sweeten the drink, and her side order of a large chocolate milk. They're getting ready to leave now, because the little girl is demanding increasingly loudly to go for supper to the fast-food seafood place up the street. She is mad because they are going to walk (it's about a block away).


Is it child abuse to so seriously mis-feed a child? It must be habitual, because she's quite overweight.

Is it wrong that this makes me bitchy?

(Ask Pynchon. I'm totally, irredeemably judgmental about this kind of thing. I feel bad about it ... but not that bad.)


Omaha Mama said...

This gets me grumpy too. Says the mom whose kids have had more than their fair share of fruit snacks and pie this weekend. I don't know what the answer is, but owning up to your bitchiness makes you less bitchy, in my opinion. ;-)

hoppytoddle said...

My Italian in-laws think I;m some kind of crazy as I don't allow our 3 you to drink espresso. THNAK GOD my husband is as wild-eyed-terrified at this prospect as I am.

Can I say that it is so gratifying when my mom goes somewhere with us where there are other families & she is forced to reckon with the fact that we are not some sort of weirdoes because everyone is as strict or normal about what they don't want their kids eating?

No, Mimi. I've actually said things to complete strangers. You are not alone.

crazymumma said...

Treats are good. We do many a treat in our family. So is balance and excercise and moderation.
I can understand why it bothered you but it sounds like she was just a product of what she came from.

and some people really do not know how to eat.

(yeah. me moderate. HAH!)

cinnamon gurl said...

I do sometimes notice what other families feed their kids, and I certainly do feel surprise. I forget that not everyone knows what healthful eating looks like. However, you never know what other families are dealing with.

I know Andrea posted a while back about bad parenting and what to do about it. The parenting that is bad but not necessarily abusive. The problem is that I don't think intervention really works without systemic support...

Beck said...

We do eat a LOT of treats at our house - but my kids are all skinny, skinny kids, thanks to their genetics. I somewhat shudder to think about people's reactions if I had FAT kids.
My kids aren't allowed to have coffee drinks (although they're always stealing drinks of mine), but it would totally be my kids with chocolate AND hot chocolate - not every day, but how would you know that if you saw them? If my kids' weren't attractive, slim, reasonably well-behaved children, would that change how people preceive what we feed them in public?
There are things that I think of as unwise nutritionally - eating a lot of fast food or processed foods, of course, but child abuse only comes into the picture when the child is being deprived of food or being fed things that are consistently unhealthy. I really shudder to think about lifestyle choices - giving a child the occasional coffee drink, for example - becoming fodder for accusations of child abuse.

Mimi said...

Beck -- fair enough. I wonder about this, too. I mean, I'm at Starbucks having my coffee drink and a cookie, right? But I'm thin. I feel like a jerk, and yet, there seemed to be something WRONG going on over there. We're beginning to reference not-food issued like 'well-behaved' and such that bespeaks a certain kind of class and parenting competence that makes sugary junk okay. Still, I think when a really overweight kid is being managed from one inappropriate overindulgence to another, that's a sign ... I don't know. Of something.

Dunno. Am conflicted. Also feel like a jerk.

Jenifer said...

It is one of those things that conflicts me for a variety of reasons. On a given day my girls at Starbucks having a kiddie hot chocolate with a chocolate chip cookie might look bad. No one might know they had a healthy lunch right before.

Then there is my issue with when I see someone giving a baby (1-2 year olds) pop and it drives me wild. It happens so much more than you would think and I just want to say something, but never do.

Or, when a friends child has over 10 cavities, silver teeth and several root canals before they start cutting back on sweets.

A healthy balanced diet has plenty of room for treats. A constant diet though of treats and high fat foods is another story. My guess is there was something you picked up on about this family that made you react so strongly.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Yesterday at a place called Bouncing Off the Walls -- where kids spend an hour or so jumping in those inflatable bouncy things -- I saw two pre-teen kids drinking Pepsi. I was shocked. Pepsi seems like such an obviously horrible thing for kids to drink, and there are so many alternatives.

I wouldn't say it's child abuse, though.

Assertagirl said...

One of my neighbours has kids that are both very overweight...the kids can't keep up with the other children on the street when they play outside because of their weight. The mom buys CASES of potato chips and the kids nearly always have a can of pop on the go while they play outside. The ice cream truck driver knows to stop at their house when he comes around because they nearly always buy ice cream cones for the kids. It makes me very sad.

Mimi said...

Jen -- a kid's hot chocolate and a cookie is a treat, I think, and totally cool. But this kid had a VENTI (ie, the very biggest) mocha, and an adult-sized chocolate milk. So it was also, for me, a question of the wrong thing (caffeine-y coffee drink) and the wrong size.

I keep starting, right here, to write part of this comment about judgments I make based on perceived class. But I don't know how to do it.

the new girl said...

It is a wicked interesting discussion. A venti is TWENTY ounces. Of coffee. That boggles my mind, really, but I see beck's point too.

Mad said...

Reading this post and Beck's comment got me to thinking. Right now I weigh the most I have ever weighed. Part of it is stress eating and part of it can be attributed to spending 2.5 years with a thyroid condition that packed on the pounds for me. Miss M is wee but cherubic of face. I do take her to Second Cup regularly for a treat while I drink a latte in peace. Miss M still makes a gluttonous moaning noise of pleasure while she eats. There are times when I wonder what people see when they look at my now obese self treating my groaning daughter to sugar in public.

Yes, there are deep problems in our society with the kinds of lifestyle choices you are talking about. It is very hard to be the person being judged from afar, though.