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The Rule


"You can't throw your mashed potatoes across the table at your sister, because it's a rule."


by Tracie Grimes
Tracie is a monthly contributor to Kern County Family Magazine

mashed_potatoes
I heard one mom say, as she tried to reason with a young boy holding a spoon so loaded with mashed potatoes it was practically dripping.  And, it was locked on his hard target:  the little sister seated across the table from him.  One could hardly blame the young man for wanting to send a food particulate missile his sister’s way.  She was crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue at him.  That’s enough to break any peace treaty.

It took me back to the days of going out in public with my brood.  What stands out most in my mind about those days are the instances when my offspring would decide to engage in PDAs or Public Displays of Aggression.  It would start in the car: the yelling and throwing of crayons (or anything else they could get their hands on including hair bows and, in one instance, shoes) at each other’s heads.  By the time we got to wherever we were going, there was much crying and gnashing of teeth going on, and the kids were upset, too.  Then, we’d have to make our foray into public with everybody sniffing and glaring at each other.  Looking back, I’m surprised I took them out as much as I did.

But, back to the pre-food-fight scene I happened upon at a local restaurant.  I remember trying to explain to my kids why they couldn’t throw their spaghetti at each other or just plant their faces directly in their plates to eat.  “It’s a rule that you can’t throw food,” or “It’s a rule that you have to use a fork,” I would explain calmly.  Once, my daughter asked why it was a rule.

“Well,” I began trying to think on my feet, “because if we didn’t have rules, then everybody would be throwing food at each other, and there would be a lot of wasted food, and even more children would starve in Africa, because of all the food we wasted.”

She looked at me sideways with narrowed eyes but seemed to accept my answer.  I think I may have taken the whole “wasting food” thing a little too far, though, because it wasn’t too much longer before my husband shared this little antidote.  After taking two of the girls out with him, he noticed that they were each chewing gum.  I know what you’re thinking, no big deal, right?  The problem was that he hadn’t given them any gum.  Where they ended up playing underneath a table, the girls emerged from underneath the table chewing gum. Need I say anything more (other than ewwwwwww!)?

You can bet that from that point on, we adhered to a new, very strict rule – the “never put ABC gum in your mouth” rule.

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Tags: Featured Story, Parenting


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