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?