Child Abuse

There.  That got your attention, didn’t it?  Well, I saw an example of it last night.

Job #2, as many of you know, is at a restaurant.  I work three shifts a week, and whereas I was a delivery person last go-around, this time I am up front most of the time:  running the register, greeting and seating, making sure there’s plenty of food on the buffet, etc.

Last night, a married couple and their son (who looked to be about 9 or 10) came in to eat.  The man and his wife were rather large, but that’s not out of the ordinary these days:  being thin is out of the ordinary these days.  So that’s not what turned my head, and my stomach.  It was something else I saw.

After they had been there a while, and by the plates on the table, had obviously already been through the buffet line once, I saw the wife coming back to her table with a plate piled high with food.  The food stuck up a good six inches off the surface of the plate:  I am not exaggerating.  She probably had the equivalent of an entire medium (12-inch diameter) pizza on her plate.  Of course I wanted to believe the best:  “She’s probably bringing food to everyone at the table:  one of those ‘oh while you’re up’ kind of things.”  But no.  Moments later, the husband returned to the table, his plate laden in similar fashion.  Then the son followed suit.

Why, I wondered?  Were they worried the other patrons would eat up all the food, so they had to make sure to bring the entire contents of the buffet back to their table?  (It’s not like the kitchen isn’t constantly bringing out food or anything:  no chance of the buffet “running dry”.)  Could they be that hungry?  I know that if I allow myself to eat four slices of pizza I’m feeling really bloated and gross.  I cannot imagine eating 8-12 slices!

But it didn’t stop there.

There were more trips to the buffet, each time with the plates piled high as they were the first time I saw them (which, you will remember, was not the first trip they took to the buffet).

I wanted to go to their table and tell them they’d better be setting the money aside now for their young son’s bypass surgery, because the habits they were teaching him were going to put him in the hospital by the time he’s 18.  If they were getting him drunk, there would be criminal repurcussions.  But stuffing him with food?  That’s just all in good fun.

I don’t think it’s fun.  I was an overweight child and an overweight teenager.  It was not fun.  The complications of obesity for that child will not be fun.  Besides the aforementioned heart disease, there’s high blood pressure, diabetes, joint problems, reflux, a whole host of maladies.  And that doesn’t begin to cover the ridicule from other children, the inability to participate in sports, etc.

It used to be that buffets had signs that said “all you can eat.”  When I was younger, most of them changed it to “all you care to eat” because “all you can eat” was taken by many people to be a challenge.  Nowadays, “all you care to eat” doesn’t work either, because people “care to eat” way too much!  I know many people (such as my mom) who will not go to many of the buffet restaurants (such as Barnhill’s) precisely because they have witnessed too many scenes like this and it makes them ill.  The question is, what is it that makes some people “care to eat” so much?  What is it that makes three or four plates piled high with food, Super Size Fries, fried Mars Bars, etc., appealing?  Why is it that “going on a diet” for most people means changing eating habits for a limited time only, instead of eating wisely all the time?  (Sure, everyone “needs” a slice of cheesecake every once in a while, but no one ever needs to eat the entire cheesecake.)

Is it depression?  Ennui?  What?  Help me figure this one out.

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About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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4 Responses to Child Abuse

  1. Cap'n Whook says:

    I knew a person who was a full professor at UA, a department head, and one of those people who (along with his wife, grown daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, if they were in attendance), would pile up a mound of food at any buffet. They would often even TAKE TWO PLATES, whether allowed or not. And they would bring their own libation in (home refilled) miniature bottles that the airlines used to provide for first class passengers, as not to pay the bar for drinks.

    They thought all this was “cute” and were used to the perk at university receptions. I’m not sure why they thought such behavior was appropriate elsewhere, especially at some charity events for which my mother was treasurer. She’d complain about them costing too much when the caterer would charge by the plate, not by the head.

  2. Cap'n Whook says:

    Oh–I forgot–they would skip lunch on the day of such buffetified events out of cheapness (he felt his salary wasn’t high enough). So, it wasn’t total gluttony. But then, skipping meals and bingeing is not good, either.

  3. karen says:

    Gluttony? Isn’t that covered in your day job? I’d hazard a guess to say that the family you witnessed has crossed over from what the nuns would call venial sin (giving your two friends each a hoho and then scarfing the rest of the box yourself) into mortal sin territory – putting themselves and others at risk of not being able to complete their obligations to God, either because they’re too busy worshiping their stomachs or because they’re tied up with health issues. So sad that they’re teaching a child to live like that – I agree with your assessment of abuse there.

  4. Eeyore says:

    I’ve no idea why people do that either, especially now that there are actually stories on the news about how dangerous it is to be so obese.

    When I first started reading, I thought you were going to talk about the parents physically abusing or emotionally abusing their son. If that were the case, your actions (at least in Washington state) would be clear; you would be required to report them to the police/Child Protective Services. But as modeling stupid eating behavior isn’t on the list yet, I don’t think there is anything you can do, except watch, and hope they don’t come often. The only thing would be to encourage the restaurant to change their policies.

    I’ve quit going to buffets because I don’t eat enough to make the cost appealing. They count on people like me to pay and then take very little food.

    I will say, though, that your description reminded me of a family that lived in our neighborhood. Both parents were overweight, and their daughter was also. We went on a camping trip with them once (that was more than enough), and I could see why they all had issues with weight. They brough every fattening snack you could imagine and ate constantly. I brought healthy snacks for our daughters.

    The sad part of this story is that the mother was finally so heavy that she had to be put in a nursing home and died there a few years ago. The father and daughter weren’t quite as heavy, but neither took that as a cue to lose the weight. Then one day they left the house (and most things in it) and moved to California and no one has heard from them since.

    The unfortunate thing is that it’s very difficult for anyone to intervene on behalf of the child, so I don’t know what the answer is. One can only hope that he will get the message about food from someone else, because his parents will likely never change.

    Pat

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