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Am I a Mean Mama? Your Thoughts, Please?

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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Am I a Mean Mama? Your Thoughts, Please?

Jilly, my 6 year old, did not like dinner tonight. I admit that a sandwich was not exactly the most inventive thing I've ever made, but there were hot sides (roasted carrots! breaded zucchini! tater tots!) and cold salads (potato salad, marinated chick peas and cole slaw).

So, not a totally crappy dinner.

But, she didn't like her sandwich, the sandwich she ordered specifically in Chez Mama's kitchen, and so she took the pickle juice left in the jar and poured it all over her sandwich roll (I should point out that 2/3rd's of the sandwich was remaining; also, I was already in the kitchen washing dishes when she did this, so I had a moment to collect myself before I spoke to her).

How would you have reacted?

1. You would have sat her butt at that table and told her she was to eat every last bite of the pickle-flavored sandwich because food is not to be wasted like that.

2. Lectured her about wasting food needlessly and made her eat a bite of the sandwich so she would know how nasty it tasted. Also, no fruit for dessert.

3. Shook your head in a "kids are kids" moment, blamed yourself for making a half-assed dinner and proceeded with the night as usual (dessert and bed).

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. I'll tell you what I did later.


Update: I did #2.

Now some explanation:

The only reason I didn't yell was because my oldest had tattled, I mean alerted me to what had happened to the sandwich while I washed dishes in the kitchen. This gave me a moment to calm myself (I agree that I shouldn't yell at all, but, um, yeah, ain't going to happen without loads of therapy).

The reason I posted this as a question/discussion is because, normally, I would never have made her take a bite of the sandwich, and I wondered if I was being abnormally cruel. I did it because 1) I had specifically told her we could wrap the sandwich up and save it for later; 2) she poured bread-n-butter pickle juice on the top of the roll which I thought would be less nasty to taste then dill juice.

It was a small bite. But, I told her there were plenty of families that would've made her eat the entire thing. She then proceeded to pitch a fit when I told her "no dessert; go to bed!"

Also, I think I blocked this out after going through this once before, but aren't 6-7 year old girls crazy hormonal? I will never survive 13 with her if this is how she's serving up 6 1/2.

Labels: ,


Blogger Shannon said...

That's a tough one. Probably the thing to do would be # 1 but more realistically, I probably would have done #2!

Oh Jilly...her and Paige should go into a competition!

7:39 PM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

Oh, darling, you cook waaay too much. Time to start exclaming, "Cereal for dinner!"

I think my option would have been: finish your milk and it's time for bed! Or I would have poured the rest of the pickle juice on her head.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Katie said...


But it sounds like a great meal!

9:05 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

I can't wait to hear the denouement of this one!

Hmm, option #2? #1 seems a little too cruel for the sake of making a point, and #3 … well, I could never be so serene.

Maybe another choice? Nobody has to eat a pickle-juice sandwich, but the culprit has to make dinner the next night?

9:22 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Benjamin would find himself on the receiving end of a verbal tirade like that of nothing he'd ever seen before.

I'm trying to think if he's ever done anything like that-and I can't. You see, I have created a sort discipline illusion. He truly believes I am capable of anything--going ballistic on him-- yet he's never really had to see it happen. LOL! It's all about the illusion.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Um none. I would have said - well that's the choice you made, if you wanted something else you should have asked for it. And since you deliberately ruined it (or in my kids case - you fed it to the dog) I guess you have to wait for breakfast to eat. We don't waste food because we decide we want something else.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

I'll say #2. I would have said that's fine you don't have to eat it but that's all you have to eat for the rest of the night. :)

9:48 PM  
Blogger Loukia said...

Hmmm... #3 for me. I am a sucky mommy. I would think it was my fault, I would feel like a failure in the kitchen, I would get upset that my child was upset enough to do that, I would feel bad that he did not finish his dinner, blah, blah, blah, etc. I think I need therapy!

P.S. The dinner sounded great!

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of what you did: I am certain that you are NOT a MEAN Mama.

But if it were my kid? I'd go for #3. #1 and #2 are pointless b/c at 6 y.o. she KNOWS it tastes bad, and she KNOWS it is wrong to waste food.

#3 is the only one that wouldn't make her dig in her heels and it wouldn't make me appear vengeful or rob me of my dignity.

And that dinner sounds pretty good to me.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

OK. If you even seriously considered #3 as an option that means you are a wimpy, pushover mommy! :) Come on! You made a lovely dinner (not that that's even the point here), and 6 is old enough to know she was engaging in pure, evil, naughty girl behavior. Sassy thing.
I would do #2, but with lots more yelling and carrying on. Actually, I probably wouldn't make her eat a bite, but she'd certainly have to clean up the mess and apologize and go straight to bed.
Guess I'm the real Mean Mama.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Heather @CritterChronicles said...

If Whirlwind hadn't put it so well, I'd have said the same thing: you chose the sandwich, you chose not to eat it, which means you get nothing else to eat until the next meal, which happens to be 12 hours away. Now clean up your mess, take a shower, and go to bed.

I'd have a wee bit of sympathy, given that I don't always like what I make for dinner, either. I also don't pour pickle juice on my sandwiches, but I'm also not 6.

(Also, I wrote all that with the intention of being all calm and collected. What would really go on would be a gigantic yelling fit on my end, and a lot of crying on hers.)

12:22 AM  
Blogger Lise said...

I'd have chosen option #2. #3 seems pretty wimpy to me, and I wouldn't just ignore intentionally naughty behavior. I wouldn't have been able to enforce #1, and I always had a thing about not forcing my kids to eat. My rule was, if you don't like what's on the table you are welcome to make your own peanut butter sandwich but I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. And mama is not a short-order cook.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have calmly said"I guess you're noy hungry" and removed her plate. There would have been nothing else to eat until breakfast. All yelling does is give them the power of making you lose it.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would probably do #2. :-)

4:20 AM  
Blogger The Mom said...

I would have done the same as Whirlwind and Heather. You choose not to eat, then you can wait for breakfast. Now off to bed. I think the early bedtime is the biggest threat at our house.

You are not a mean mama. Kids need to have discipline.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Suburb Sierra said...

Sadly, I run a diner from my kitchen so the kids tend to eat what is in front of them since they pick it off the menu (aka two choices from my head)...but when they pitch a fit about dinner or dip something in someplace it shouldn't be dipped, I usually ask once, "Are you going to eat that now?" and if they say, "No" then it's off the table and they eat nothing until the next day.

Then I go out of my way to make the world's best dessert that night just to rub it in. See...that's a mean Mama!

8:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'd do a combo of 1 and 2. In my house we had (and still have for SOME people) a three bite minimum. You don't have to eat everything, but you do have to take at least 3 bites so you have time to decide if Mommy is poisoning you or not.

But I also would have been steaming mad and would have a no dessert policy for a week as punishment because I am "The Meanest Mommy in the Whole Wide World" (tm).

9:12 AM  
Blogger Little Miss Sunshine State said...

I would have thrown in a little speech about how disrespectful she was to her mother, whose job it is to make sure her her kids have a meal to eat at mealtime.

Then I would have said that they would probably be very hungry at breakfast the next morning.

Then the next morning I would have made a huge breakfast because the kid would be really hungry.

PS: I have actually done all of the above...back in the olden days of the 1990's

9:24 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

I would probably say, "Well, this is what we are having for dinner, so you can eat what's on your plate or not, but you aren't getting anything else."

How much yelling, cursing, and gnashing of teeth that accompanied this decision would depend on how the day had gone and how much of my patience they had already used up.

It's making me a little grouchy already, and it's an imaginary scenario!

10:36 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Oh, plus I sometimes break out the "If I hear one more word of complaint, you will be getting peanut butter for the rest of your life." Which is strangely effective.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Issa said...

Honestly? I decided long ago to not make food a battle. Ever.

I wouldn't have given her a dam thing to eat though until the next morning. When mine do something to ruin their dinner, that is the only consequence. But I just don't even fight with them over eating. Eat, don't eat, whatever. Just don't expect snacks if you don't eat is my rule.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Issa said...

And Susan is a bit harsh and rude. The end.

A six year old doing something like that is normal. Because, hai, she is six. Nothing evil about it.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

I won't battle food either. You don't eat what's in front of you, you don't eat, especially dessert. Dinner is over when it's over and if you're not done? Oh well. Granted, I make foods my kids enjoy, (though we have a 2 bite rule for new foods. Don't like it after 2 bites, no problem). kids push boundries. no need for drama, but if she were my kid and ruined her sandwich? (provided she thought it was ruined at all) That'd be the end of dinner. Calmy.

All in all? you're her mama, so you know what would work for her.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Melani said...

I would have to agree with all the one's that said #2 and Whirlwind's comment hit it on the head for me, totally agree to that one! My kids are being raised vegetarian and I make meat for the rest of the family and we get creative at times, but man the sides themselves should have been enough. I am big on NOT waisting food since there are hungry children/people all over the world and I let my 4 yr old know it when she thinks she doesn't have to eat the crust off her sammy.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Julie B said...

Ummm yeah, that was enough food choices to make my head spin!
In a perfect world I would have said, well, too bad so sad, you did it you eat it. Dinner's over.... but I was raised with Catholic Guilt you know, soooo knowing that your Jilly is a peanut much like my M, I would have yelled at her and told her not waste food. Then I would have let her eat cereal instead.

But truth be told, I only cook one meal unless I know FOR SURE that it is not something the kids will eat.... like Eggplant...

4:10 PM  
Blogger Krystan said...

Probably #2, but I would definitely lecture a bit about wasting food. Then they're done, no snacks or back-up meal (although you had plenty of other options on the table), especially if they're rude about it. I just made my daughter cook dinner three nights in a row for being rude about something she didn't like. *Definitely* NOT your fault - sounds like a great dinner to me!

5:13 PM  
Blogger said...

I would have attempted #1 but ended up screaming and acting childish. A storm about money not growing on trees and children in poor countries being grateful for just the bread would have ensued...

7:38 PM  
Blogger claire (fresh air fund) said...

This is exactly why we have backyard chickens - they love all the leftovers and you go to bed feeling very satisfied with your cooking!!

8:43 PM  
Blogger Loukia said...

So, no, of course you are not mean! I wish I could handle my children as well as you do!

11:56 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

So what did you do?

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

Number 2 most likely. Dont' know if I would make them taste it but that's a nice touch. Definitely no more food if they don't eat what's in front of them. No dessert or snacks til morning if this happened at supper.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Patois42 said...

Moment to collect myself or not, I'd have yelled, then lectured, then forced her to taste it, and then sent her to her room without dessert.

Meanwhile, her father would have snuck her dessert. 'Cause we like to undermine each other like that.

Dang, all that and you're saying it was a "half-assed" meal?

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

Ahhh, the battle also known as family meal time. We have some protest at the table because I tend not to cater but then again I do have 3 reasonably good eaters.

I have definitely played the "be grateful that there is healthy food on your plate" card. I have also intentionally put off a trip to the grocery for "must have" staples just to drive home the point of how good we have it. "Aren't we lucky that we can just drive to the store and that we have money for groceries? Sorry but tonight it's rice, carrots and water for dinner."

I also believe that they will eat when they are hungry and I keep good choices available.

I am not sure how I would have handled the pickle juice sandwich. I would have been irritated, I would have insisted on clean up and I probably would have shut her day down, not allowing any more outside play.

I loved reading through all the comments.

12:03 AM  

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