I Hate Fat KidsWho said bigger is better?
I hate Fat Kids. I simply do. Fat kids and their parents.
Normally, I’m not this vitriolic. In fact, I pride myself on being an even-tempered and well-centered individual with no strong likes or dislikes. But I absolutely despise fat kids and their parents. I used to be one. I was chubby as a child, and obese as a teenager. Even now, after years of dieting and exercise, I still have a gut that troubles me. I look better now, but that doesn’t lessen my ire.
I could be a little more specific: I hate spoiled fat kids. I hate spoiled fat kids whose parents indulge their every whim. I hate spoiled fat kids whose parents indulge their every whim and are proud of it. Unfortunately, despite the specific nature of my hatred, I’m in a country that is chock full of them.
I see them everywhere—sweating under the armpits and exuding the odor of soiled flesh. In their beady eyes and swollen faces I see nothing but ego, a selfcenteredness that cares nothing for beauty or art or history—only self-gratification. They sometimes appear with only one family member to wait on them hand and foot, but more often with a bevy. Their family is responsible for making sure their belly is never empty, their brow is frequently mopped, and all their bags are carried by someone else. Because God forbid that the child should want for anything, or make themselves tired. If the mother could chew for the child she would. Instead, she contents herself with merely carrying the food until the fat kid wants to eat. I saw that on the subway recently. And if there is no food ready at hand, they will move Heaven and Earth to find what the kid wants.
These brats have been handed everything in their lives. Their own personal failings have been made up for by their parents. They have no wants or desires; they merely do what their parents tell them. Instead of ambition there is only greed and sloth. They have learned that failure means someone else will clean up your mess. In their lumbering, shambling gait, you can discern a total lack of concern for the situation around them. Trash magically disappears from their hand, to be replaced with a toy or more food.
Despite my intense loathing, I cannot find myself blaming them alone. Can one blame a tree growing in the shade for becoming stunted? Instead, I find that the blame falls also on the shoulders of their parents.
Now, parents are too-often blamed for the defects of their children. Studies have shown in the West that parents have much less influence on their children than they think. Environment is the biggest influence—statistically speaking, it’s better to grow up in a dysfunctional family in a good neighborhood than grow up in a good family in a bad neighborhood. So often, when the parents are blamed, I feel compelled to defend them: they did all that they could.
In China, however, things are different. So many of the children here have no real friends outside their family. Their parents and grandparents are the only people they see or interact with. Children here often don’t form functional friendships with people outside their family. Instead, their parents fill all those roles. The result, as you might imagine, is rather incestuous. They are spoiled, petted, cosseted, and otherwise indulged until any natural inclination they had towards self-efficacy is smothered. Their default setting is to sit and wait for things to come to them. The parent works and saves, only to spend it all on an unappreciative brat. Their life is like that of a young chick—an insatiable maw that waits and cries until food is regurgitated down their throat.
Chinese parents confuse a child’s happiness with indulging their every whim. Boundaries are not set for the child, nor is independence encouraged. In order to keep a child from making mistakes, parents make all the decisions for them, not realizing that sometimes mistakes are good, nay necessary, for learning. If a Chinese child trips and falls, the parent will pick them up and dust them off. Children never learn that they can stand up on their own. And like any unused faculty, their ability to pick themselves up withers and dies, like a vestigial appendage. All they learn is that if they want something, they should grab onto it with their sausage fingers and not let go, and eventually it will be given to them.
If trace this epidemic back another step, one might blame the one-child policy for encouraging parents to lavish attention on their one and only child. Nothing like being told you can only have one to make someone cling to it the harder. At the same time, however, that’s merely an excuse. One can point to the one-child policy and blame it, but there is something fundamentally wrong with the way Chinese culture treats children in the first place. If there was no imbalance to begin with, there would not be this extreme swing of the pendulum. Changing the one-child policy would not fix this problem—it would only produce twice as many plump brats. Parental attitudes towards their children need to be changed in order for any progress to be made. The children must also be taught to take responsibility for themselves and for their own actions.
Perhaps the biggest horror of all this is that I’m actually related to people like this. My genes carry with them the predisposition to raising a monstrous tyke. Lest this happen, I’m already planning the 5 mile run and carrot juice regimen that I’m going to put them on.