Where Does She Get it From?

I was going through my old Facebook photo albums the other day. It’s wild to see how our family has grown and changed since the first day I signed up for social media all those years ago.

During my stroll down memory lane I came across a series of photographs. Of my daughter. From over a year ago. Refusing to swallow a bite of food.

As I was looking at my two-year-old little SweetZ obstinately holding food in her mouth for more than an hour, I was asking myself, “Where does she get it from?” – that stubborn refusal to do the thing that she really doesn’t want to do.

Then a childhood memory of my own came flooding into my thoughts – a very specific trip to the dentist. I’d heard my parents whispering in the front seat of the car during the trip there about what we were going to have done. They didn’t know I was listening, but I was. Even though I was too young to fully understand everything they were saying, I was, however, plenty old enough to understand these words:




I made up my mind very quickly – lonnnnnng before we reached the dentist’s office. No way in hell was I going to open my mouth. That dentist could call frogs from the waters and fire from the heavens, and nothing – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – was going to make me open my mouth. Not if doing so meant that there would be needles, shots, and stitches.

I remember sitting in the dentist’s chair (which to my little, distrustful eyes, seemed like some kind of mutant-mechanical praying mantis waiting to eat me, slowly and painfully), looking up at the posters they had tacked up on the ceiling. A kitten sitting in a wagon. A pretty rainbow scene. That classic shot of the two little boys wearing overalls that reads, “So, how long have you been farming?” I distrusted those posters. They reminded me of clowns. And I was LIGHTYEARS ahead of Stephen King when it came to the ugly truth behind clowns. I had my own preconceived notions regarding those devilish bastards before IT was published…and he was 39 when that went to print. I was a mere sprite when I realized the true evil behind clowns. But that’s a story for another post, another day.


I was staring up at those posters, all alone in the examination room, contemplating my chances of success if I were to bolt, when the dentist came in.

He said hello.

I stared at him.

His nurse said hello.

I ignored her and stared at him.

He sat on his chair and pulled on his mask. His eyes crinkled behind his glasses. Maybe he was trying to smile at me. I thought he was glaring.

He asked me to open my mouth.

I stared at him.

He repeated himself.

I stared at him and gave my head a tiny shake. No.

He looked at the nurse and gave her a slight nod. She moved a step closer to the chair.

My tiny head shake grew into something a little bigger.

I don’t remember much past this point. It’s all kind of a blur. There was a commotion, some loud yelling, and hands holding my shoulders down while someone else tried to pry my mouth open.

I still have bad dreams. I still loathe dentists.

I don’t know if they were able to do what we’d come for them to do – I honestly don’t remember. All I remember was clinging to the notion that if I were to survive that visit, I MUST NOT OPEN MY MOUTH.

So, as I was looking through our family photographs of my daughter displaying her stubbornness, I realized,


She gets it from me.

And I smiled. Because even though she’ll have to learn to develop the kind of self-control that doesn’t allow her to just give into her stubbornness willy-nilly, seeing myself reflected in her is a pretty darn cool thing.

Now, check out SweetZ in her 1 hr, 10 minute refusal to swallow her food.

Fifteen minutes into her refusal to swallow a bite. She’s still trying to smile at me as if to say, “Look, lady. I could do this all night long.”

Twenty minutes in. It’s becoming less and less fun.

Forty-five minutes into the battle of the wills. All eye contact has been cut off. She had no idea at this point just how stubborn her mama could be. And clearly, I had no idea just how stubborn my daughter could be.

A full hour into it. An HOUR, people.

And there it is. Seventy minutes later, the will broke. The food was swallowed. And there was much, much cuddling. We never had an issue with her swallowing her food again.


29 thoughts on “Where Does She Get it From?

  1. livinginfairyland says:

    Those are some VERY cute pics! But – why didn’t she just spit whatever it was out? I’m pretty sure that would have been option 1 for my kids. Surreptitiously. Or not. That is, if they consented to take the mouthful in the first place. You must be a pretty awe inspiring parent!

  2. emmaburcart says:

    That is funny! It reminds me of my bestie and her son. She is always asking where he gets his stubbornness from and I always have to remind her that his parents are the two most stubborn people in the world! 🙂

  3. Melinda VanLone says:

    How cute are those pictures! So fun that you took them, because years from now that’s going to be a memory. I was the same way, except my stubbornness took the form of holding my breath until I passed out (can you imagine? Try it…bet you can’t do it. Talk about stubborn!) After which my Mom, in panic, would give me a cookie :-D. Until the stupid doctor told her to stop rewarding me for bad behavior, and to let me lay wherever I fell and then ignore me when I woke up. Once it stopped working I moved on to other things. Darn that doctor!

  4. Ginger Calem says:

    I. Love. This! Oh my gosh, priceless!

    I too had a dentist visit where I refused to open my mouth. I had a cavity that needed to be filled with apparently required a shot of Novocain. No way, no how I was having a shot in my mouth. Our dentist was a long time family friend. He asked if we could talk outside. He sat on the edge of a flowerbed planter box, so we could be at eye-level. He earnestly said that I needed to let him fix my tooth. He said I needed to open up my mouth so he could help me or we couldn’t be friends anymore.

    I sighed and said, “I’m sorry. I guess we can’t be friends.”


  5. Sherry Isaac says:

    Here’s the thing: when your child inherits a trait such as stubbornness from you, the disciplinarian/parent, what they don’t realize is that you’ve had a good twenty years or more to perfect your raw talent, an advantage they don’t have.

    Not that I speak from experience. Snort!

  6. Julie Glover says:

    Wow, we are dental twins. My family tells the story of when I went to the dentist as a child and would not open my mouth. My mother finally had to just take me home. I refused to cooperate. I’d figured out that “dentist” was code for torture chamber, and I had that stubborn streak too. No lollipop for me, but I didn’t care. To this day, I dislike going to the dentist.

    And I have a child who is as stubborn as a pack of mules. Wonder where he gets it from?

    • Myndi Shafer...one stray sock away from insanity. says:

      So glad I’m not alone in the refusal! I’m with you – DENTIST = TORTURE. I really don’t have many reasons for thinking that – I’ve had a really healthy mouth my whole life…

      But a guy with a little drill and scraper thingy and the ability to stick needles in my mouth? I don’t plan on being on friendly terms with a dude like that. 🙂

  7. Coleen Patrick says:

    So cute–love the photos to tell the story. I have a stubborn dental story too–only instead of not opening my mouth, I ran out the building when the dentist stepped out of the room and then hid outside! 🙂

  8. Kecia Adams says:

    Oh, wow. The battle of wills. Have had (and am still having now and then) those with both daughters, mostly Second One, over food. But I do remember Number One getting out of bed repeatedly at around age 3 when it was her bed time. After about the 10th time or something one night I said, “If you get out of that bed one more time I am going to spank your bottom.” This was truly a last-ditch, desperate and clearly empty threat because I hadn’t ever spanked her before. She KNEW to call my bluff because the next words out of her mouth were, “Umm…OK.”

    Point to Number One. 🙂 Glad to see you back in action, Myndi!

  9. Molly Pendlebury says:

    We have major eating difficulties in this house so, I totally sympathize. I’m way too impatient to have sat through that swallowing effort though. She would have totally broken my will. WTG Mama for being just a tad more “patient” than she was 😉

  10. Tameri Etherton says:

    Too cute! I can’t believe she went 70 minutes with food in her mouth. I would’ve gagged for sure after 70 seconds.

    I remember the exact moment I realized my daughter was a mini-me. And also the exact minute SHE realized it. One was sweet, the other not so much. I’ll let you guess which. 😉

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