The Fat Kid
To be clear, it was me. I was the fat kid when I was young. I often found myself in the crosshairs of kids jockeying for position in the inevitable dominance hierarchy that exists in every school on the planet (and I’m no saint. I was one of them)... My response initially was to be devastated and sad. I had ZERO clue about health and fitness. I was an easy target, as my physical appearance was frequently where the first insult would be directed. However, I then became obsessed with never allowing adversaries to best me verbally under any circumstances. I’m not exactly certain how I ended up being programmed with this circuitry in my head. I don’t know if it was a personality trait that was assigned at the moment of conception, or if my response to different situations is a byproduct of the adversity faced along my journey to adulthood. Regardless, these minor events prompted a deep dive into this subject as I watched a situation with my son occur. We’ll preface this with the fact that he’s only 3 and this was absolutely NOT a big deal. That said, he got out of the pool and was sopping wet. All of his little buddies were standing just inside the door of the house. When he walked up, they all yelled “No! You can’t come in!” I watched as this absolutely leveled him. He crumbled and started to cry. Alone. Rejected. Crushed. It immediately brought back a feeling I loathed in my chubby youth. In that moment I knew and felt the precise emotions he was suffering through. I was morphed back into a 9 year old chubby little boy being teased and ostracized. I quickly explained to him that it wasn’t him. It was simply because of the fact that he was wet and had to dry off before he entered the house. However, the day is coming... The situation will arrive where people are actually verbally attacking him. And when that day comes, I want him to be ready. When he clashes with an adversary, I want him to have the ability to verbally ensure that nobody wants to cross him ever again. I know this is extreme and you may think I’m a lunatic. The truth is, I know that “benign” individuals are people that get walked on. It’s an unfortunate reality, but let’s not kid ourselves. You don’t have to bite to be respected, but you have to have teeth. I won’t tolerate him being a bully. That’s 1000 percent out of the realm of acceptability. Yet I equally or more so don’t ever want my son to allow himself to be a victim. The challenge is, I know that I can’t directly intervene in his squabbles. This will only produce a reliance on outside help to resolve problems. I have to equip him with the mindset, awareness and confidence to navigate through the challenges of human interaction. I suppose that only time will tell if I’m correct in my outlook. I believe with all of my heart and soul that it’s my job to make my son resilient and capable of withstanding adversity.