I see all kinds of kids, I hear all kinds of conversations, and I get told a lot of strange things. I also love it when I don’t see a student for a few years and then run into them. It’s nice to catch up with them and it’s nice to see some things coming full circle.
A few years ago I had a student that would eat breakfast during her first period class. She was in a different classroom, but I would always hear about what she pulled out of her book bag to eat. It was always leftovers from the night before: fried chicken, biscuits, pork rinds and hot sauce, cookies, cake, etc. She would take it all down too and she was tiny. She was barely 5 feet and barely 100 pounds.
I would give her a bunch of crap for eating that way too. I would always tell her it would catch up to her. She would laugh and tell me she was young and could eat what she wanted. She even said, “I’ll eat better when I’m old. I’m young and I don’t want to think about healthy food. It’s gross.” She also told me that her family was overweight. It was kind of a joke between the students and the teachers to see what this girl was going to pull out of her bag for breakfast. Personally, I don’t know why that teacher let her eat during first period when she could have had breakfast in the cafeteria 10 minutes before that, but hey, not my classroom.
It’s been a few years since I’ve seen this girl, until the other day. She’s in high school now, still eating like crap, barely 5 feet, and maybe 130 pounds. She has gained about 30 pounds or so since she was in 8th grade. That was a few years ago, but that’s a lot for someone so young. I mean, that’s like 15 pounds a year. If she keeps that up, she’s going to be morbidly obese by the time she’s 20!
She said to me, “I think about what you said about the food catching up to me, but I don’t care. I’m young. I’ll worry about it later.” I gave her my best teacher pep talk and told her that if she didn’t stop eating Grippos and hot sauce for breakfast it was going to catch up to her faster than she could imagine. She told me that she hasn’t really gained that much weight and she is a growing girl. She also said that she doesn’t do anything active either. She’s too tired all the time but she thinks that’s from staying up late and going to school all day.
I kinda wanted to shake her and tell her to get a grip on reality! Her eating has caught up to her! She’s tired, she’s lazy, and she’s making excuses! I do agree that she’s a teenager and she should have fun, but I don’t like that she is associating eating with fun.
I had another female student last year who was about 5’7” and probably 300 pounds. She would eat breakfast at school. The difference though is that she would eat the school breakfast. She would a few servings of the school breakfast. Then she would pull out food from her bag. Usually it was a bag Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and a bottle of hot sauce. (Ok, I don’t understand why these kids are carrying hot sauce in their bags, but they do!) She would then eat those and then complain all morning about how hungry she was or how her stomach hurt. As the year went on I literally watched her gain more and more weight. I would venture to say that she probably put on 30 pounds through the course of the year. I watched her grow out of her clothes and still try to wear them. I watched her wear clothes that were too small and she would be so uncomfortable all day. I could not address the problem with this student though; she didn’t think there was a problem. She was a nice girl and I haven’t seen her since she was in my class, but I do think about her and her eating habits.
I later told Janelle about these thoughts and conversations and she said, “Yuck. The time is now. You have to eat right, right now. Then you can have a bad day once in a while because the bad days aren’t everyday.” Of course Janelle would know the right thing to say. I just wish more kids and parents saw how important it was, right now!