Who’s Calling the Shots Here – the Parents or the Kids?

Funny - Who's Calling the ShotsSo then… my friends start passing their homemade dishes to the dozen of us guests assembled around their Thanksgiving dinner table. When I turn to the 2-and-a-half-year-old seated on my right and offer him the turkey platter, his mom, another guest, abruptly pushes the tray away and announces authoritatively, “Oh, no, no – he’s vegetarian.”

So we all look at this little kid who can barely string a coherent sentence together — and someone asks sincerely, “How does he know?”

The kid’s mom bristles a bit and says dismissively, “Oh, he knows. He’s always been a vegetarian.”

The kid’s dad says a little pompously, “Yeah, he won’t eat any meat. At all.

Now everyone at the table is pretty damn sure that the parents have made this decision FOR the kid, which is perfectly fine, of course — but we all find it odd that they’re using tones of voice and shades of phrasing that seem to imply that the kid came to this conclusion on his own. As a toddler.

I mean, it’s not like this tyke can drive himself to the grocery store and slap his credit card on the deli meat counter on his own, right? So it’s probably safe to say he’s following his parents’ lead, but they’re acting kinda funny about it. They don’t say “we’re vegetarian” or “we’re raising him vegetarian” – they seem intent on letting us know he’s chosen to be vegetarian.

Someone says, “Soooo…was he like at a birthday party or something and just repelled by the hot dogs and pepperoni pizza? Like the look or smell of meat just disgusts him?”

Another guest asks, “Or is it more like his philosophical statement against animal cruelty?”

(The kid is dunking his corn cob in his juice. He doesn’t look like he’s ever had a “philosophical” anything.)

The parents launch into a passionate dissertation on the vagaries of meat-eating – and while I respect their opinion, of course – it was a little disconcerting to hear all the gory details while the rest of us are chomping down on turkey legs and honey-baked ham.

(It’s totally fine to be a vegetarian, of course – I myself was a vegetarian for a few years until my ob/gyn told me I was anemic while pregnant and encouraged me to start.eating.massive.protein.now. So I promptly went out and ate a cow.)

I’ve not met this couple before, but from the look of their little lad, I find it likely that he had as much participation in the vegetarian decision as he did in today’s wardrobe choice of a bright orange cable-knit sweater and matching corduroy pants. He looks adorable, of course, but clearly his parents are calling the shots and simply attributing the decisions to him.

I tune out their carnivore-bashing and I IMAGINE them having conversations like this with future party hosts:

Party Host:         Would your toddler like a hamburger?
Mom:                  No, he’s vegetarian.
Party Host:         Really?
Dad:                   Oh, yeah, totally.
Mom:                  He’s also a Republican.

Party Host leans over to peer at 2-and-a-half-year-old kid, looking for signs of conservatism.

Party Host:         Really?
Dad:                   Oh yes, he believes strongly in the Republican
                           ideals. (smiles proudly)
Mom:                  (pats kid’s head and chuckles) That’s right! Don’t 
                           get this little guy started on the liberal media!

Little guy chews on Hot Wheels car and blows a snot bubble.

Dad:                   He’s Presbyterian, of course.
Mom:                 (smiling) Of course!
Party Host:        Oh, OK.
Dad:                  And he’s a Capricorn.
Mom:                 He was born a Scorpio — but he’s so not a Scorpio!
                          (turns to husband and laughs conspiratorially)
Dad:                  Omigod – so not a Scorpio! (laughs)
Mom:                 Yeah (shaking her head indulgently), so he’s a
                         Capricorn now.
Party Host:        Um, OK. (glancing around, looking for exit strategy)
Dad:                  He’s also a Marxist.
Party Host:        He is?
Mom:                 Oh definitely. You wouldn’t think so, because of the
                          Republican thing, but he’s able to reconcile both
                          philosophies. Our little Marxist.

They gaze at son admiringly.
Son drags saliva-covered Hot Wheels car through the dirt, then combs hair with it.

Party Host:        He seems uh…delightful. I should probably be go—
Mom:                 He’s also African-American.
Party Host:        Huh? (squints at white toddler with blond hair)
Dad:                  Oh, yes. He was born Caucasian but he really
                          identifies with the souls of African tribal leaders.
Mom:                 (nodding) Very much so.
Party Host:        OK, so your son – your toddler son – is a Vegetarian
Republican Presbyterian Capricorn Marxist African Tribal Leader?

Dad:                  Yep. (nods proudly)
Mom:                 (sighs happily) He’s completed an incredible journey
                          of self-discovery.
Party Host:        At two?
Dad:                  (modestly) Well, two and a half. (chiding) I mean,
                          come on, what kid really knows himself at only two?

Mom and Dad exchange a look like “Jeez, what a character this person is!”

Party Host backs away slowly. Toddler follows — hopping, while slamming Hot Wheels car on his forehead, making high-pitched “vroom vroom” noises.

Parents beam.

Of course, I only IMAGINE this scenario, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this particular couple mapped out their kid’s whole identity for him.

Imagine if that actually worked! That would be awesome! I’d tell my kids: “You are Carnivorous Catholic Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Gifted Musician Millionaires with a passion for Elder Care of Immediate Family Members.”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Have you met any parents who attribute specific likes/dislikes to kids who didn’t seem like they had much say in the matter? We all influence our kids to a certain extent, of course, but have you seen someone go overboard? At the local park, a woman introduced her 11-month old as Sara to us, but she called the child “Piggy” the entire day! Like, “Come here, Piggy. Catch the ball, Piggy.” Both she and the child were on the heavy side. When another parent, thinking she must not be hearing correctly, asked her, “Excuse me, are you calling your daughter ‘Piggy?’” – the mom beamed and said, “Yeah, she loves it!” And I’m thinking: She’s 11 months old! She doesn’t know what you’re saying! You could be calling her “honey” or “poopy-face” and she’s still going to smile at you. But please, dear mother of God, stop using the nickname “Piggy” before this child enters pre-school and gets branded for life!)

Do you know some parents who say their child likes this or that, but you suspect it's the PARENT who's calling those shots and just ATTRIBUTING them to the kid?  #funny #parenting #vegetarian #kids  #humor

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55 replies on “Who’s Calling the Shots Here – the Parents or the Kids?

  1. Mimi Gin said:

    I have a friend who every time her daughter does something silly or asks a question, she tells her “I’m so glad you’re pretty.” It just burns me up!. I have a feeling this comment was made to her on more than one occasion. I know for a fact she is a math whiz, and very smart…. yet she gives the stereotype of “blonde” validity.

    • yikes! that kind of comment can really mess with a kid’s head!

      • Becca said:

        Meh. I tell my fifteen year old son “at least you’re pretty” whenever he does something goofy. He laughs it off. Of course, he knows that in addition to being good looking he is also very intelligent (if a bit lazy) and a great athlete, very involved in community outreach and an awesome big brother. So, while I agree that it could be very damaging for a kid to constantly be told how stupid they are, if it’s said in jest and the kid gets the positive message a lot more than the negative and has a sense of humor then there is no reason you can’t joke with your kids! I abhor people who take themselves too seriously and would hate to raise a child that can’t laugh at himself!

        • I agree with you about the sense of humor, Becca. I tease mine a lot too and they roll with it. If I notice they’re a little sensitive about a certain area, though, I’ll steer clear.

  2. Judy said:

    Piggy? Oh my. A friend would get a job and then quit the job, telling me it was because her son didn’t like her to work. I asked if he had learning disabilities, behavior problems or some sort of special need, but no, according to her, her son just didn’t want her to work. I don’t think he even knew since most of them were part-time things while he was at school. I always thought he’d better get a really good job so he can support that stay-at-home wife he’s so obviously going to insist on.

    • hmm, my kids don’t want me to work either — but they also don’t want to starve or go to school naked, so I guess I better keep my job! :o)

  3. what is exactly wrong with Vegetarian Republican Presbyterian Capricorn Marxist African Tribal Leaders? I see them all the time around here, some are even only 1.5 yr old. geesh.
    mike recently posted..Do dogs get embarrassed?My Profile

  4. Personally, I love the sarcasm and find nothing controversial here…reminds me of a similar situation when my son came home from school and told me that his classmate, who was maybe 6 or 7 at the time, told him she was on a diet. Clearly, that came straight from the parents and of course that made me nuts, especially because this little girl was not at all overweight. But, a 2-year old vegetarian — UGH.
    Emily recently posted..Why I Love Our Temporary ApartmentMy Profile

    • yikes! parents putting a healthy 6-year-old on a diet is cray-cray!

    • if his parents are really like that – maybe!

  5. Our girls were raised vegetarians, but it certainly wasn’t their choice. It was the way WE lived, and a case of this is what is on the table. Eat it or do without. Once they were introduced to pepperoni pizza, it was all over, but they still serve their dad and me vegetarian meals when we visit them.

    • ah yes, pepperoni pizza — that great temptress!
      that’s cool that your kids serve you guys vegetarian meals when you visit — very sweet!

  6. Do I tell you often enough how much I enjoy your posts? I hope I do. I laugh so much. :)

    This was hysterical. I’ve been around parents like this and it’s too funny! You just know that kid is gonna get a little older and start to defy everything they stand for. That’s the beauty of it all. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen. I can’t even get my kid to put his shoes on if it’s MY goal. Those parents are in for a biiiiig surprise. lol
    Beth Teliho recently posted..MIDNIGHT ABYSS: Author Interview with Jennifer M ZeigerMy Profile

    • thanks, Beth! I love how you phrase this: “I can’t even get my kid to put his shoes on if it’s MY goal” because that is EXACTLY what happens at my house! I have to pretend I don’t want them to do something that I DO want them to do — in order for them to do it — but then they caught on to my reverse psychology – so I have to pretend to want them to do it, then they don’t do it — and then we just evolve into a double-double-double cross situation to the point I can’t even remember what I wanted them to do in the first place! ha! :o)

  7. Jewlee said:

    Oh my! This reminds me of the lady who called the LGBT support line because she wanted to make her 3 year old son gay and “he wasn’t showing any signs” and she wanted people to know she supported the LGBT community, so CLEARLY the only way to do that was have a gay son!

    • ha! I’m probably guilty too!
      I’ve told people for years that my kids love showtunes. This may or may not be true.
      I love showtunes.
      I may or may not have played showtunes in the minivan when they were youngsters and insisted encouraged them to sing along.

  8. HAHAHA “because of the republican thing?” OMG awesome. People are dumb. And amusing. Because you know – we all have been dumb and amusing on purpose since we were two!

  9. HA HA HA!! I am DYING! Just read this entire thing to Lisa on the phone! Best post ever! :)-Ashley

  10. Julie said:

    You have done it again Darcy! This is so funny in so many places! I think I would have slipped the kid a nice juicy piece of turkey. HA!

    And I am very happy to know you are the kind of mom who loves her children so much that you would discard your vegetarian beliefs and consume a whole cow for the sake of your babies! Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge animal lover. But I am also a meat lover.

    “He’s also African-American”….OMG! I lapsed into the Monty Python dead parrot skit in my mind!

    Just too funny Darcy! I not only love you, I also admire you!

    • wow! I’m blushing! thanks for the awesome compliment!

    • I DO live in California, so maybe your “coastal progressive parenting” theory is right! :o)

  11. I was sitting next to a proud parent of a middle school vegetarian in the high school bleachers one day and she (the vegetarian) walked past the crowd downing a hot dog. I looked at the father and he said. “Well, if you ask me, a hot dog doesn’t exactly fall under the category of meat.”

    • hahaha! LOVE this! and LOVE that parent! too funny!

    • Honestly! I can only hope she wised up and stopped using that particular pet name before the kid entered school!

  12. Paul said:

    Darcy, that is hilarious – I can just see the huge train wreck coming later in the lives of the parents and children. What worries me even more than the inevitable rebellion, are the behaviour patterns that repeat themselves in the children (the topics of non-rebellion).

    My step-son was in a hockey tournament when he was about 12 years old. One of the teams involved- which was not in our league so we had never played them previously – had a violent reputation. The games were supposed to be non-contact. I volunteered to be one of the time-keepers. Sure enough the visitors were so violent, and the parents so verbally abusive that the ref ended the game and told them they had forfeited for their behaviour. The parents were furious and threatened the refs and the officials with violence. The cops had to be called to eject the visiting team from the tournament. Because the visitors had had so many penalties, our team was ahead by over 6 goals when the game was called.

    It was so apparent that the kids’ behaviour was a direct result of the parents’ example and directly caused the loss. I am willing to bet that not one of the parents or kids went home embarrassed that they were responsible for their own failure. I pointed that out to my step-son after the game.

    • Yikes! I’m glad that ref ended that game! Those parents set a horrible example!

  13. As a strict vegetarian, I’ve still always felt if I were to have kids, they would get to eat meat just like I did when I was growing up, and decide for themselves when they’re able. But I have to say, you’re right, it would be awesome to be able to map our kids’ destinies with a string of words: She’s a Compassionate, Assertive, Multi-Lingual, Pulitzer-Prize Winner.
    Gunmetal Geisha recently posted..The Politics of ThinnessMy Profile

    • Oooo!~ I like your destiny description! I will start telling that to my kids now too!

      and Mama wants a Pulitzer too! :o)

  14. annemarie said:

    Pretty sure I could sway the child with a chicken nugget.

    • yeppers, I know some helicopter parents! I might even be one! :o)

  15. Ha! Came across this via Nicole Shaw, I think. Pretty sure I’m doing some damage to my kid by explaining to her she’s an alien, and then explaining why she can or can’t do things around other people. “Oh, you know, it’s because she’s an alien. Right kiddo?”

    On the other hand, sometimes the humor value of something justifies subsequent years of therapy? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it does.
    Neal recently posted..The mountains are calling and I must goMy Profile

    • Sounds like you’d fit in over here! Our family is very much “joke first, consider others later!” :o)

  16. KiwiKat said:

    If it is any consolation at all, the nappies (sorry, diapers) of vegetarian children are the absolute WORST thing ever in terms of stench….not gentle on the nose at ALL. :)

    • Yikes! Another reason to let the little tykes chow down on some burgers & chicken strips — less odorific nappies!

  17. Good one Darcy. I know a few people who attribute things to their children that their children don’t do. My daughter’s friend has a little sister who at the age of 4 announced that she is a vegetarian, but then that child is very smart and nobody in her family is vegetarian so we know it did not come from them.
    Vivian Pitschlitz recently posted..The devil does not wear PradaMy Profile

    • that’s wild — I wonder if she saw something on tv or heard about it somewhere.

  18. So I guess I should tell my cousin to stop calling my six year old son “pork chop” huh? That poor kid.

    Two is a little young but I can tell you that at three, my daughter, who is four now, knew exactly what she wanted. Of course, if she had decided on being a vegetarian it wouldn’t have been me explaining it to the host. She would have been the one loudly proclaiming what she wants to eat. Since she lives for fried chicken I don’t see her choosing to go vegan.
    Herchel S recently posted..I’m a ninja…supermomMy Profile

  19. ContraryKerry said:

    Was told recently,”He has gotten into the habit of not sleeping in his bed.”
    ‘He’ was about one month old at the time.

    You make me LAUGH. Thanks.

    • o-mah-gah — that’s hilarious! I LOVE that someone told you “he” has gotten in the habit of not sleeping in his bed — when he’s just a glob of jello at 1 month old and is CLEARLY not propelling himself out of his crib! So funny!

  20. Ashley said:

    My son is almost 4 now. But for the longest time he wouldn’t eat meat and the doctors told me to just give him protein shakes to make up for the lack of meat. I could put it on his plate and he’d eat everything else except the meat. But I kept putting it on his plate. Eventually he didn’t seem to be gaining weight the way he was supposed to. So I started giving him meat only and if he ate it then I’d give him the veggies and fruits. It was a long process. And I didn’t starve him or anything but I seriously had to persuade him. But now that boy will tear up a steak. Lol

  21. Michelle said:

    At two and a half my son declared himself a vegetarian, he refused to eat meat and would gag and vomit when we tried to force him to eat it. He said animals had a right to live. My husband and I are big meat eaters and never modeled this behavior. My son was nine before he started eating meat again.