Not too long ago, in some place called
North Andover, Massachusetts, parents received letters telling them
their kids were fat.
Now, instead of lowering the letter and
looking at their kids to see if this was perhaps true, the parents
went into fits of rage, declared their children perfect and demanded
everybody at the schools be fired.
Or I guess that's what happened.
Seems like a reasonable thing to expect in this day and age when it
comes to parents and kids. But the story I read centered on one kid
and not all of them, but I've been on the receiving end of the
outrage that emanates when you dare suggest someone's child might
not be second in line for the throne, and it's not pretty.
The kid the story I read focused on an
athletic fourth grader who got a letter telling him and his parents
that going by the body mass index scale, the kid was overweight for
his height and age and was doomed to a life of misery if he didn't
At least part of the letter was true.
The kid was heavier than most in his age group, but he plays a lot of
sports and, according to the story, sports little or no body fat.
It's conceivable he could one day be 6'2, 230 pounds and sport
ripped muscles, yet still be considered obese by the BMI scale.
As with most things that come from
government institutions with good intentions, this school system
didn't allow for any individuality among the kids. Whether the kids
were weighed, or the school just looked at their records, if their
BMI topped 25 (anything below 25 is considered normal or healthy),
they were fat and did their parents know this?
Showing the normal reaction of a parent
whose child has been maligned, the mother immediately contacted her
congressman and demanded this insidious practice be stopped. The
congressman is apparently drafting a bill and will get back to the
minor things like the budget and whatever wars we're fighting as
soon as he can.
To his credit, the kid told the
reporter he didn't really care what the school thought about his
weight, but he had some classmates who might be upset or have their
feelings hurt by having the school system point out what everyone
knew but were too nice to mention.
It's been 28 years since I was in a
school of any kind, but I can't imagine letters being sent home to
let mom and dad know how fat we were. Yeah, we had some "early
bloomers," but for most of us, if a note bad been sent home it
would have said, "Are you actually feeding that bag of bones you
call a kid?"
The school defended the letters, saying
they were meant to be used as a tool to help parents raised the
healthiest, happiest child they could. And I'm sure that's how it
was meant. I'm sure the phrase "that porker kid of yours" was
never used, but it's a different world than it used to be.
Once upon a time (not saying it was a
good or bad time) if somebody accused a kid of doing something, the
parent could almost be counted on to say, "Oh, Lord, what did he do
That led to the question everybody in
my generation and before asked a thousand times: "Why doesn't
anybody ever believe me?"
We've done a complete 180. Kids are
believed immediately and adults simultaneously have their lives
ruined. Sometimes that's the way it needs to work out, but
sometimes a little more investigation needs to be done.
But that's a topic for another time.
This particular school system said 32 percent of the student body was
considered obese. That's a pretty large number, but it'd probably
be the same, or higher, around here. I haven't heard of the schools
wanting to let parents know their kids are fat, but that would be an
interesting reaction to see.
But being a 6'2 man who weighs around
230, I know how that poor kid feels to be called fat just because of
a number. I often have to show off my ripped abs to people who claim
my BMI says I'm fat.
And keep all comments to yourself.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 442-4575