Just Desserts

6 years ago
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(as posted on http://southernfriedchildren.blogspot.com )

When I was four, my mother made a delicious peach cobbler for dessert one night. She gave me an appropriate four-year-old portion and, being four, I asked for more. 

Some mothers may have just said, simply, 'No.', but my mother was testing out natural consequences that week (a fad sandwiched in between macrame and cross stitching) and said 'Okay. But you're not leaving the table until you eat it all.'

Being four, I ate a few bites and announced that I was done. 

My mother was, most times, a pretty lenient parent. Unless my father was around, and then she turned into a HAMMER DROPPER. As we sat at the dinner table and I made my announcement and my father glared at me from the head of the table, my mom decided to go badass.

'Oh no you're not. You are not getting up from that table until every bit of that is gone! You asked for it, you eat it!' She was really getting hot now. 'Your father works hard so that you can have nice things, like Weeble Wobbles and peach cobbler!' I could totally see how those two tied together.

'I slaved over a hot stove for TWO HOURS,' she continued, 'So you could have a nice dessert!' Total lie, she made it at my dad's request, but I thought it wise not to point this out. 'Do you think that little shit Tammy Redman's mommy makes her peach cobbler?'

The Redmans lived down the street and had a planter made out of a toilet in their front yard. From what I'd seen, the Redman kids lived on a steady diet of YooHoos and frozen Twinkies. I doubt they even knew what a peach was.

And then she said it - the phrase that cut into the hearts of overprivileged honky kids everywhere: 'Don't you know there are children starving in China?' She'd later change it to Africa, but we were still almost a decade away from Band Aid and USA for Africa. All our pity was still focused to the East, and those poor, starving Chinese babies.

'Yes, Mommy.' I said softly.

She had backed me against a wall, leaving me with only two choices. Either I eat the cobbler, or...

Slowly, I took a bite. I raised my eyes to meet her gaze, her mouth turning up at the corners. She thinks she has me. I chewed once, twice, then swallowed. And then,

I threw it all up, back into my bowl.

My mother's jaw clenched and her eye twitched. I thought I heard my father laugh softly. 'May I be excused?' I asked.

'Yes,' she sighed. 'You may be excused.'


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