The Scalloped Potatoes Standoff



Warning:   This is a 20th century parenting strategy that will land you in jail if you tried it today. Also, be aware that this post includes a whole lot of Southern vernacular/ dialect or whatever a linguist might call it! 😉

I love scalloped potatoes!  I can eat them on any given day of the week.  I like them with cheese, chives, cheese and chives, onions-whatever.  Any iteration of scalloped potatoes is all good with me 🙂

But it wasn’t always that way.

In fact, when I was a kid, I HATED scalloped potatoes!!!  Baby there aren’t enough exclamation points to help me stress this point.  Now, do you think that this fact mattered to my mama?  Ummm…NO!

Note:  If you don’t know my mama, go back and read the post “Mama and the Balloon Man.”

Anyway, I grew up during a time when you ate whatever your mama cooked.  There was none of this ‘meals cooked to order’ business!  Either you ate whatever was placed in front of you or you stayed hungry.

Well, there was also another possibility. Let me explain.

One 1970’s-ish day, mama cooked meatloaf with butter beans and…you got it… freaking scalloped potatoes! I remember quickly gulping down the meatloaf and butter beans–baby they were delicious!  After doing so, I politely used my napkin to wipe my mouth (mama taught us manners) and I commenced to go outside.  Mind you, those scalloped potatoes were still sitting on my plate, just as mama had placed them.

My dear hearts, before I could reach the door, mama said, “Where you goin’?”  I said, “I’m going outside to play jacks.”  Friends, I could tell by the scowl on mama’s face that she didn’t like my response!  I remember how she looked at me–then at my plate and said, “Get your butt back over there and eat them scalloped potatoes—and you better eat every bit or you gone sit there all night!”

Baby, she threw the gauntlet down!  And so did I.  The scalloped potatoes standoff was on!

Ok, I knew not to completely defy her so I sat my butt down and stared at the scalloped potatoes.  My brother, who was very young said, “Gwin-Gwin (that’s what he called me back then) you better eat your food!”  Mama looked at him and said, “Don’t tell her nothin’, she gone see!”

No matter, I just sat there looking at the plate.

Before long, I looked up and realized that I was the only person left sitting at the table; but that didn’t bother me.  I simply REFUSED to eat those potatoes and I was prepared to stay there all night to prove it!

As you might have guessed, sitting at the table alone got pretty boring so I remember adding massive amounts of pepper and salt to the scalloped potatoes; I literally made them inedible-or so I thought.

A few minutes later, my dad walked in the front door; he had just gotten home from work.  As a railroad conductor, he worked 16 hour days so he usually got off pretty late.  When daddy saw me sitting at the table he said, “Bay why you still sittin’ at the table?”  To that, I replied,“Mama making me!”

Well, daddy knew better than to contradict any of mama’s edicts.  Baby, everybody knew that, when it came to disciplinary matters, my mother had the last say. That being the case, dad put his work bag down on the floor and proceeded to move on to another area of the house.

Friends, just as I turned my head away from daddy, I felt a sharp pain!  It was mama coming down on me with a belt!  She was wearing me out!  All I could hear her say was “Now eat them damn potatoes!”

Baby when I tell you that I “ate them damn potatoes,” I mean, I ate ‘em!  In fact, I didn’t use a fork!  I shoved them down my throat with both hands! Tears and snot was everywhere!

Um hmm… It looks like mama won the standoff 😉

Anyway, many years later, mama and I would laugh about that story.  One day, right before she passed away, we talked about that little episode and she smiled at me and said, “I couldn’t let you win.”

As a mother, I knew exactly what she meant!

What do you think mama meant?





37 thoughts on “The Scalloped Potatoes Standoff

  1. This is a good illustration of the parenting rule that a mom or dad must be prepared to follow through with a consequence. On the other hand, it shows that your mama was one stubborn lady – and so are you! So you come by it honestly! 😀 I’m sure this little vignette taught you that your mom was nobody’s fool, and that she meant what she said.

    I had similar standoffs but with my dad, not my mom. (My mom was more of a wuss. 😉 )
    But let’s leave dad for another time. lol)

    Great storytelling, G.!


  2. Lennon Carlyle

    Your Mama was a lot like mine. I fell asleep with my face in some squash casserole one night G. Ha! She still won because I ate it the next morning before school gagging. Let me say, your Mom must have been exquisite because she really outdid herself with you. You are an amazing woman! Learn something new about you everytime I read your blog. Your a gift that I keep getting to open. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL!!! Lennon, that is hilarious! Do you like squash casserole now? Girl, I love it!
      It’s so funny how many people have had this same experience of challenging their Mama’s by refusing to eat a certain dish.
      It didn’t bode well for anybody who tried it!
      Thank you so much for your kind words about me and Mama.
      With you, I’m in good company because everybody knows that Ms. Lennon Carlyle is badass!


  3. Awww, she couldn’t let you win because you let your child win once, they will never listen to you again. I tell mine stuff like, “not an option,” or “I’m done talking.” That’s the end of it, and he knows it. Love hearing about Mama!! Xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Woebegone but Hopeful

    Wise man you dad for letting your mum sort out an ‘uppity’ children situation.
    And you told the whole thing with so much affection and humour too Gwin.
    Children. So much work. So much love.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I did that too but with chicken…hated, I mean HATED meat….she woke me up off the table at 11 and sent me to bed. Guess what was on my breakfast plate in the morning? She won of course 🙂 great story and brings back memories ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jet

    Well, it may be noted that this “old timer” reared or had some hand in rearing five of those bad boys, including you, Ron. Even though those tactics were taught to me in my early childhood classes, I had some knowledge of them because they were handed down to me from my parents. Obviously, they had no formal training but they did a fine job of rearing my siblings and me. The same can be said of the five that I helped in rearing. I am so very, very, proud of each one of them. They are Magnificent Individuals and Model Citizens. I pray they are proud of the battles we fought AND the ones that were conceded, for that’s what helped to make them who they are today!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, now that’s the truth and it is beautiful!

      I can attest to everything that you have just said here. In my case I guarantee you that both of my parents did the best that they could based on things learned from their parents.

      Just Iike you, I was fortunate enough to have learned some additional skills and techniques in my graduate educational program. I have added some of those to my parenting repertoire alongside the things that I learned from my parents when raising my children.

      In any case, my brother and I are model citizens just like my cousins–who I love dearly!
      I can also say that me, my brother and all of my cousins have raised or are raising beautiful and productive individuals who will go on to represent our entire family in a wonderful and positive way.

      Just like you all have done 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jet

    Hi Gwin and Ron, I admire you all’s position on not letting the child “win”, but here’s an “old timers” thoughts on the issue. War is the last resort! I know you’ve heard the saying “pick your battle.” If you do, you going to save yourself a few battle scars. You will have to use your good judgement about which ones to fight and which ones to concede; but the child will learn from this tactic, just as Gwin learned that she couldn’t be allowed to win all of her battles. In the long run, the child will respect that you also care about their feelings and opinions.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Gwin,
    I think you hit the bullseye with your assessment about what Mama meant. The old saying goes, “Give em an inch and they’ll take a mile”. If she’d given in and let you win that time, the next time you would have pushed the envelope just a little further. So, in the words of the immortal Barney Fife, she just “nipped that in the bud”,

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ron..naw you didn’t pull out Bernard P Fife! LOL!!!

      Anyway, you got it! As a parent you have to have the final say. As you said, if mama had let me ‘win’ I would have kept on and on until I was the one in control. When children are in control, you end up with a hot mess.

      I would venture to say that there are so many families where the child or children is/are in charge these days; this is not a good look.

      Thanks for the comment. I wonder what other readers think about this?


      1. There are definitely families like this. An old Air Force friend of mine used to call his toddler son, “Poppa”, while the toddler called my friend Ed; spitting on Ed, the floor or others, was one of his favorite pastimes!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Now that’s funny!

          I call my daughter mom; I’ve done that ever since she was born because she was the little mama bossing around her 3 older brothers.

          Despite that fact, you best believe, ‘mom’ knows who the real mama is up in this camp!

          Liked by 1 person

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