Cake? Where's the Cake?

Today was another sunny day in Seattle. As usual, I was around 2 something p.m. I was sitting in Psychology and the class was discussing human behavior and cultural influences. One of the scenarios was "You have asked your mother-in-law not to give little Elliot a piece of chocolate cake because it will spoil his dinner. She says that she make the cake especially for Elliot and gives him a piece." The question was what would do next/how would you react?

OMG! 2 of my classmates basically replied they would tell her the cake will spoil his dinner, take it away and save if for after dinner. Another said she would tell Elliot how thoughtful it was of his grandma to bake him the cake and ask him save it for after dinner (nice!).

My question is, what's wrong with just letting him eat the cake? Think about it, IT'S JUST CAKE. So what !?!? if it spoils his dinner. Little Eliot isn't going to fall over and die just because his missed dinner that day. The world isn't going to blow up just because he ate a slice of cake. Right? Furthermore, being 'Assertive', taking the cake away, insisting to save if for later causes more bad then good. Bad? Yes, your mother-in-law probably won't like you very much (you might not care but...why would you want someone to hate you?). You're sending the grandma the message that you and Elliot are rejecting her love and affection. She is your mother-in-law, and you're bound to run into one another more then a few times in your life time (i.e. during holidays). So if there's a grudge between the both of you, don't you think the grudge will kill the everyone's holiday mood? Not to mention, you're also putting your husband between you and his mom. Elliot will lose respect for his grandma, since you showed him that you overrule her. Elliot also be in a bad mood since he wants cake and can't have it. You probably won't be in good mood after the ordeal. So why would you react that what? There's nothing to gain. Is it really worth it? Over a slice of Cake? nah.

How would I handle the situation? I would just let Elliot eat the cake. What not, right? Instead of thinking the cake will spoil Elliot's dinner, why not take it as a gesture of love. Realize, appreciate, and be happy with the fact that your son is loved. It's just cake! If this happens regularly, I would tell the grandma in private. Even then I would find a nice way to tell her, maybe...somewhere along the lines of "Mom, I feel really guilty knowing that you're spending your time in a hot kitchen baking him these cakes just for Elliot. Why don't you take a break and relax. Elliot has had so much cake in the past few weeks, that I don't think a break from your cakes will upset him too much."

Is my solution too 'Asian', and my classmates too 'American' (whatever that means!)? I don't think so. I was once told that 'no one on this earth is nice, everyone has a bit of mean inside of them, the only difference is there are people who are dumb and people who are smart'. LOLZ But if you think about it, it's kind of true.
There's a time and place for everything, you have to be smart and pick your battles.

For god's sake, let the boy eat cake!

Comments (9)

On 8:34 AM , Unknown said...


i would let the boy have the cake cos he might not like his dinner and not eat it. Perhaps, it's the asian in me or rather the grandmother. ha ha

On 5:54 PM , Anonymous said...

I have raised four children of my own, and am now the grandma, so I can see both sides of this issue. More to the point (my point, anyway): we don't have enough information about this, there may be a bigger issue here. Does Grandma live far away and only see Elliot once a year? Then, dear God, it's one ruined dinner. Is Grandma nearby, and this happens frequently? Then the real issue is that Greandma does not respect Momm's right to make the rules for HER kids in HER home. If this is the case -- Grandma needs to be taken to the woodshed.

On 12:25 PM , Anonymous said...

Surfed on by while trying to find my wife directions for cooking tapioca pearls.

Given that the class was in cultural influences on behaviour, your answer was totally correct from a Vietnamese (read Confucian, East Asian) viewpoint. But your qualification also makes good sense. Sarabelle brings up a good point about the (lacking) context, however within an Asian family context, there is no taking Grandma to the "woodshed". S**t flows downhill, never up. Once upon a time in Vietnam, new brides moved in with their mothers-in-law for a period of up to two years, doing all the family chores, and learning how the Old Lady said things were supposed to be done. I suspect that many family recipes were passed down from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law in those days, giving us the Vietnamese cuisine of today.

On 11:30 PM , hoangtam/tt said...


what's your definition of a "Vietnamese viewpoint"?

I was born and raised and an still living in Seattle. I definitely don't define myself as "vietnamese" (someone from vietnam). I consider myself to be an American with Vietnamese ancestry...but that doesn't make me vietnamese and it doesn't make my viewpoint a vietnamese viewpoint.

Let's say your grandparents were from France but you've never set foot in France...does that make your viewpoint a "French viewpoint"?

On 8:56 AM , Anonymous said...

... have asked . . .
She says . . . and gives . . .
Acts are already done! The question: what would you do next?
The restricted scenario: Mom has asked and Grandma ignores her daughter in law but talks to the boy and gives him a piece.
Because of the class restraints (ages, experiences . . .), anyone could give quick replies and the class would learn from one another or . . . laugh! (Sorry about my "mean" side!) The scenario also suggests that Grandma might not have much time for her grandchild that's why she would catch up anytime anyway. So Mom should have her right over grandma because she know well about her boy's physical conditions (already had something or what and what . . . ) Grandma already gives the boy a piece so Mom could share that piece too. Both enjoy tasting would please Grandma and the portion then no more too much for the boy. The rest of the cake could wait after dinner, of course!
In the real life things are different somehow. Mom and Grandma all know that children need to eat (breakfast, snack, lunch, afternoon meal, dinner) to grow up. Anyone that takes care of the baby has the right to tell (my grandma raised me) and the other will know right away what to do (and the baby has his voice too). My grandma used to share the food people gave me. She would want to see if the food OK for me to take (I was born with some defect!) Her way made me run to her to share some food from someone. One time she didn't have time to share, she threw right away my "me ngào" in the trash can because she's so worry about the dark color of the stuff that my friend bought for two of us. With the tooth pick I didn't take enough me ngào and really wanted to try it so I looked at my friend immediately but he already took all his portion in! Then I followed my grandma's hand with no more regret. Your me ngào reminds me of my wonder, why we have to serve that one with tooth picks? And how my friend could finish it so quickly is still a mystery to me! SYK

On 1:45 AM , Baking Fiend said...

knowing my kids, they'll take a bite even before i can say anything! LOL.... frankly, if the kid is hungry, i'll let him/her have the cake and have less dinner later.

btw, i can't locate yr email addy... can you email me instead? TIA!


On 9:34 PM , Anonymous said...

I think sarahbelle forgets that wisdom comes with age -- and even if it's not true in this case -- it ought to be presumed.

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On 4:24 PM , Beau Lotus 涟 said...

Me too I would let the boy have his cake and even help him eat it :-). Wouldn't miss good cake for nothing. And even more so wouldn't risk offending my MIL..!

Indeed if this is just an occasional situation the kid could certainly live with less dinner for once. Though if you look at my kids, sweets and cake before dinner wouldn't spoil their appetite at all. Haha.