she sits silent
she sits silent
focused and determined
not to eat
A Short Story
Suppertime, early in the 1950s
Sister #3 sits in her high chair
She hasn’t finished what’s on her plate
Everyone else is ready for dessert
No dessert until you finish what’s on your plate!
She says nothing, does nothing
Expressionless, she looks straight ahead
Out the window at the other end of the table
Father takes control: Mother, serve dessert
We eat dessert in front of Sister #3
She doesn’t move a muscle
We finish dessert in front of Sister #3
Father takes control: Leave the table if you’re finished
He sits, waiting for Daughter #3 to finish her supper
Silence. . . time passes. . . no progress
Sister #2 and I peek from the kitchen, willing her to comply
Time for bed
Still no response, no tears, nothing
Father takes control: Mother, put the food in the refrigerator
We all go to bed and sleep
Next morning the leftover food is Sister #3’s breakfast
We eat our breakfast in front of her
She sits silent, focused and determined
She will not eat this food
Ditto for lunch
Sisterly pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears
Suppertime again; Mother is concerned
Father takes control: Mother, dispose of the remnant
He dishes up Daughter #3’s supper along with ours
She picks up her fork and eats
* * * * *
This family story flew into my head a few days ago. It got me thinking. I had a burst of insight and decided to follow through.
I hereby honor
Sister #3’s amazing courage and determination,
and repudiate publicly and joyfully
a noxious label
my father gave me early in life.
Take a look right
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 January 2014
I remember a similar incident only it was I who was child #3 and wouldn’t eat all of my supper and I was older. We were at Grandma and Grandpa’s so I got double dose from Dad and Grandpa. My plate was piled so full it was more than I could eat so no dessert for me and they ate their dessert in front of me. I must say tho in my dad’s favor, if we’d been at home, it wouldn’t have happened. Besides tho Dad encouraged us to eat everything on our plates, I don’t remember him forcing us. He wouldn’t have given me such a large portion. What we took ourselves we were required to eat. And Grandma wouldn’t let it carry over into another day.
Another incident I remember was when I was staying alone with G & G while the rest of the family went to my other grandparents, Grandpa insisted I take their vitamins. I was a “sickly” girl. One was a very large pill and whenever I tried to swallow it I would choke. But Grandpa wouldn’t let me leave the table until it was swallowed. Grandma felt so bad but she didn’t go against him. It must have taken me an hour to get that pill down.
Ruth, Thanks so much for sharing these dinner table/food-related memories. They’re powerful. So many family dynamics right there around the table.