Local grandma worried about Brandon
By Chris Giblin
A local grandmother berated her grandson last night for failing to eat everything on his plate at dinner.
Ladislava Mislav, 72, of Owego made a sizable but, according to her, “reasonable” amount of food for the first night of her grandson’s weeklong visit as his parents took a cruise. But, she was disappointed by his lack of intake.
“There were so many leftovers, way too many for a healthy growing boy to leave behind. A couple pounds of chicken were left and he didn’t even put a dent in the potatoes or vegetables. No wonder Brandon’s so skinny and frail,” she said.
Twelve-year-old Brandon, on the other hand, tells a different story. According to him, this was no normal dinner for two.
“I was the only one visiting but she still made an entire chicken, and she must have mashed up at least ten potatoes for me. I mean, it would have been fine, I guess. I just wish I wasn’t expected to eat more than five pounds of food at dinner,” he said.
Last night was nothing new to the Grandma Ladis-Brandon relationship. All his life, Brandon says, Grandma Ladis has been expecting him to eat unreasonable and unhealthy amounts of food. When he inevitably fails to eat everything she becomes distraught, worried and even a little angry.
“All I want is to have a strong grandson,” Grandma Ladis said. “How will I have that if he never has enough meat or vegetables?”
Friends and acquaintances of Brandon give another assessment of the situation, however. According to a basic consensus among his 6th grade classmates, he is anything but “skinny and frail,” as his grandmother would attest.
There is a reason for such discrepancy between the generations. Ladis, who hails from a poor section of Eastern Europe in a nation to which she only refers to as “Old Country,” was brought up under the impression that the fattest people are the most prosperous, as was the case in her foreign upbringing. Despite the fact that obesity in modern-day America is more prevalent in lower income individuals, Ladis still retains the perceptions of her youth. Brandon’s peers, on the other hand, give an evaluation of appearance based on physical health and not economic prosperity.
“I would say Brandon’s a bit of a porker myself,” classmate Jack Nolan said. “I think most of the class would agree with that. To hear that anyone would even think about calling him ‘skinny’ is kind of weird. I don’t care if it’s coming from his grandma.”
Making matters worse, with puberty coming on fast, female classmates have begun noticing Brandon’s pudginess more than ever, ranking him in the bottom ten percent in terms of “cuteness” in a recent poll they conducted. All the girls in the grade participated.
“He just has very few desirable physical characteristics,” said Jenny Spellman, the girl who instigated the rankings and posted them on several walls in the school. “I can’t think of any girl who’d ever want to go out with him.”
In his defense, 12-year-olds of both genders can often be heard in the schoolyard referring to the popular Spellman as a “total bitch” and a “slut no one actually likes.”
Brandon is all too aware of how other people perceive him, and he has started running, eating less and is hoping that a growth spurt may one day end his awkward, pudgy stage. If that day ever comes, however, Grandma Ladis will be more upset than anyone.
“I’m hoping he’s just going through a phase right now,” she said. “I’ll be happy when he finally fills out in a few years.”
Chris Giblin is a sophomore TV-R major. E-mail him at cgiblin1[at]ithaca.edu.