Queen once sang:
“Hey, listen here
Now I got mortgages and homes
And I got stiffness in the bones
Ain’t no beauty queens in this locality (I tell you)
Oh, but I still get my pleasure
Still get my greatest treasure
Heap big woman you done made a big man of me (now get this)”
Now until recently I never knew the lyrics to the song. I was listening to a classic rock station a few weeks ago and I suddenly figured out they were singing about overweight women. Then I was looking at another blog and there were complaints that some schools are now sending home “Fat Letters” – basically letters telling parents how in-shape (or out-of-shape) their kids are. Of course, the soccer mommies of the world suddenly freaked out.
Fat Letters Go Home
I started thinking, “What the Hell? What is the big complaint?” After all, schools do a ton of testing telling parents how well or crappy they are doing. But sending home a note saying Johnny needs to go outside more and spend less time by the LCD Babysitter playing Call of Duty, is somehow a bad thing?
When I was in elementary school, the nurse came in one day with an eye chart.
She measured out a line on the floor, stuck a poster to the wall and called us to the front, one by one. When it was my turn, she had me hold a plastic thing in front of each eye and “read the smallest line you can”. I said “E” for the first one, and “RH” for the second one. She told me not to be a smart ass (in more elementary school appropriate language, or maybe she said that, kids weren’t big crybaby pussies like they are now, and schools weren’t afraid of ‘offending’ some parent and a their lawyers) and asked me to do it again. Now I said RH for both of them, after all, if you have one good eye and one bad one, you can cheat. Today, of course, this would be forbidden, because of HIPPA the nurse would have to call each kid into a secure room, monitored to make sure she treated each kid equally and fairly and didn’t have sex with them. Notes would probably have to be sent home in a sealed envelope with some type of evidence seal on it to make sure is wasn’t tampered with. Half the kids would lose or throw away the letters and the school would be sued for failing to notify the parents correctly, thus “negatively impacting Johnny’s educational career”.
So the nurse wrote a note telling me to go to the eye doctor. Every now and then they would come around with the combs and check us for lice, or check hearing, or whatever. How could checking my head or my eyes be any worse than coming around with the calipers and saying, “Hey kid, lay off the Snickers”?
Is it because Fat is sort of a chosen condition? We can’t keep our ears from going bad, our eyes from getting all wonky, or the lousy friend from throwing his hat on our head or sharing a comb, but we know if we sit around watching television, drinking Monster drinks and eating french fries, that sooner or later we will have to buy bigger pants. Now I’m not saying being skinny as the average person cast on network TV is easy. We can’t all look like olympic athletes and victoria’s secret models… but it is something we can work to improve. Even Reality stars are chosen for their looks… except on White Trash TV (See any show on TLC), where bigger and dumber is better.
Is that what is chapping the hides of the overachieving mommy crowd? Suddenly they have to plan meals and not stop by McRonalds on the way home between gymnastics, dance, piano and riding lessons. They might even have to throw out the frozen pizzas and buy something healthy. In fact, it might not be a problem exclusive to the overachieving mommy set. The underachieving mommy set probably struggles with it too. After all, once you’ve gone to Wal-Mart on the first of the month and bought your Lobster and Tenderloin, you have to struggle through the rest of the month and make the food stamp dollar stretch, and Soda, Hot Dogs and Ramen Noodles are cheap, easy and unhealthy…
Parents are quick to tell the school to test kids for a variety of things. Test them for behavior problems, test them for learning disabilities, for exceptional education programs, for cheerleading, football, archery (seriously, a kid brings a butter knife or a Benadryl to school and they get expelled, but we’re going to GIVE them a bow and arrows and teach them to shoot things?). We can’t forget, of course, the bane of teacher’s existence: the Standardized Tests. Odin Forbid the schools don’t test the kids to figure out which mold they fit, and so the state can penalize schools for when parents don’t help kids at home (so they can blame all the kid’s problems on the school).
So, I ask again, what’s the big deal with telling kids to spend a little more time physically active, and educate them on fats and sugars and carbohydrates?
It sounds like a good plan to me.
Of course, this leads to another repressed memory:
The three years spent sentenced to Physical Education in Middle School. But that’s another blog entry.