by MIA FREEDMAN
I fear we’re turning into a nation of wussbags. Softies. Princesses. People in need of a big bowl of cement for breakfast. Everywhere you look, there’s wuss.
Like when I heard a recent news report about adolescent obesity where a health professional was explaining why so many young girls don’t like to exercise. “They don’t like to get hot, sweaty or out of breath” he said. Unfortunately, these things are the point of exercise. But apparently, girls become panicky because even mild physical discomfort is such an unfamiliar sensation.
More signs of wussbaggery closer to home: last week I was bundling my kids into the car when we had a sudden standoff. “Wait Mum,” said the 6 year old. “What snacks have you brought?” We were going to the supermarket. A 10 minute drive, tops. “And drinks! We need drinks!” my three year old chimed in. Briefly, I felt like a failure. Inadequately prepared for an outing, yet again. Then I regained my senses. “You don’t need to eat or drink anything between here and the shops,” I replied. “Harden up.”
I’ve found myself saying this more and more lately, whenever my kids display the inability to cope with any form of delay, discomfort or inconvenience. Which is, like, always. For a long time I’d instinctively panic whenever my children said “I’m hungry.” Until I realised they’re always hungry yet not starving enough to consider a carrot. So they’re not actually hungry, they’re just hoping that one happy day I might turn to them and say, “Well, let’s fix that with a Nutella pancake then!”
What is this modern obsession with being fed and hydrated at all times? Why does every mother schlep around half a supermarket of snacks and drinks in her bag and her car? Is hunger so bad between meals? Wait, between snacks and meals? Will any Western kid survive more than an hour without shoving a muesli bar in their pie hole? At one school, the stretch between breakfast and recess has been deemed too long so a new eating opportunity has been introduced at 9:30am. It’s called, ‘pre-recess’. Because heaven forbid any child experiences a hunger pain.
And it’s not just kids.
I heard a theatre director once say plastic water bottles are the bane of his life as audience members now drink noisily throughout every performance. “Suddenly nobody can sit through a 90 minute play without being constantly bloody hydrated,” he complained.
He’s right, you know. Everywhere you go, people are clutching water bottles. Pre-nineties when some genius convinced us all to buy something freely available FROM A TAP, was everyone keeling over from dehydration? Or did we just drink when we could and cope the rest of the time? Imagine that.
One friend reports: “Having worked at Rebel Sport I know for a fact that nobody can exercise anymore without a full set of Skins compression gear and a fancy Puma water bottle that no-one else can open.” Another friend adds, “And you can’t go to the gym without a protein shake.”