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15 July 2009 @ 05:17 pm
not the kid's fault  
My niece recently allowed her six-year-old son to accompany her boyfriend, who's a trucker, on a three-week haul all over the eastern half of the country.

It appears that the wide-ranging trip was not only wasted on the youngster (he can't remember any details of the ride), but that the boy may have suffered some health consequences, judging from what the mother was saying to us the other day.

The child, who was overweight to begin with, gained "another fifteen pounds on the trip," she told us in a mortified tone. 

And while she said that she encourages him to move about more, and play,  "He's lazy," she complained. "He gets tired just walking around."

I'm thinking: this kid needs to see a doctor. I'm thinking: how much exercise can a six-year-old get sitting in a big rig most of the day? And what was he eating on this trip? It would take some serious planning for a situation like this NOT to be a weight-gain + artery clogging fiasco, right?  Did the mom discuss any of this with the boyfriend before the trip happened?

I guess most people would stay silent.  I found myself thinking that the kid's health was at stake.

So I waited for an appropriate moment and then called my sister-in-law (the child's grandmother) and offered to pay for him to have a physical if indeed he hadn't had one recently for whatever reason. Grandma assured me that he has regular physicals and that she is currently making sure he's getting plenty of exercise and eating right (he's staying with her for a couple of weeks this summer while the mom is in another state). I had to couch my concerns in pretty gentle language to avoid implying that the family was failing the kid, but Grandma was magnanimous and thanked me for my concern.

She related how, that very morning, the boy had spent an hour at the local public swimming pool (swimming lesson), and how the two of them had done a fair amount of dog-walking that afternoon. "And in between, he was on the pogo stick!" she reported. "And we're eating good stuff. Fresh green beans this evening."

So I feel better about this. And I was glad to hear that she had already planned some talks with her daughter on the wisdom of letting the youngster take any further trips with the boyfriend, at least until he's older.  But did I overstep? Just because I perceived that the kid may have needed outside help--does that justify intervening in a family's dynamics? What if they hadn't been relatives?