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Couldn’t Suck It Up, Buttercup

| Related | December 11, 2016

(My sister and I have never really agreed but since she’ll be moving closer to where I live, we agree to try to put aside our differences for our children’s sake. This takes place when her daughter is three and my son is four. I’ve invited the two of them for dinner and everything is going as decently as they can… until her daughter begins to spend more time pushing the food listlessly across her plate rather than eating it.)

Sister: *admonishing* “Now, [Daughter], you to finish what’s on your plate or else you won’t get any of [My Name]’s pie! Don’t you want some pie?”

Daughter: *whining* “But, mama, I not hungry!*

Sister: “Of course you are! Look at all that food on your plate! Eat it all gone or no sweets!”

Daughter: “But—”

Sister: *firmly* “No buts! Eat!” *focuses her attention on my son* “And you too, mister! You better eat everything on your plate or else your mom’s going to be very sad.”

(My son looks at me in confusion.)

Me: *calmly and patiently* “Actually, no, he doesn’t have to finish everything on his plate. He just has to eat until he’s not hungry anymore.”

Sister: *snorts* “That’s a stupid rule. So, what, he eats two bites of dinner and gets dessert?” *sarcastically* “Nice parenting.”

Me: *still calm and patient* “Don’t be ridiculous. He has to at least eat enough to warrant said dessert but he also doesn’t have to eat dessert if he doesn’t want to. It’s not uncommon for him to eat half his dinner, half his dessert, and then finish his dinner. Either way, he doesn’t have to clean his plate.”

Sister: *angry* “Well, I’d say that’s pretty unfair to [Daughter], don’t you think?! I mean, how would you feel if the tables were turned?! I think [Son] would be pretty upset, wouldn’t you?”

Me: *getting a bit irritated* “Of course he would probably be upset, but that is precisely why we have already warned him that each family is different and just because some mommies and daddies let their kids do things that doesn’t mean it’s the same for him. And we’ve told him that this may make him feel sad or angry but that’s life. He just needs to turn around and do something to make himself happy. Stop focusing on other people.”

Son: *murmuring* “Just gotta suck it up, buttercup.”

(I pause for a moment to shush my son and my sister shoves herself back from the table and practically yanks her daughter out of her chair.)

Sister: *snarling* “Oh, and what? Are you saying I don’t teach my daughter that?! I teach my daughter stuff like that too! All the time! But, hey, you want to pretend like you’re better than us then fine!” *picking up her purse and walking out while still yelling* “I don’t even know why I thought this could work out. Come on, [Daughter], let’s go to [Fast Food Place] and get some ice cream. God, the nerve of some people!”

(She then walked out the door and slammed it shut. It’s been a few years since this incident and I haven’t heard from her since.)

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