Once upon a time, there was a woman named Mary and she had a tiny boy named Timmy who would only eat buttered bread.
Every meal, it was the same thing: Mary would make a sandwich and chips, or chicken and vegetables, or spaghetti, or soup, and she would put them before Timmy and she would say, “Timmy, eat some of your sandwich. Timmy, eat two bites of your sandwich and then you can have buttered bread if you want. Eat a chip. Eat half a chip. Timmy, eat one of these carrot sticks. Timmy, will you eat some sandwich for Mommy? Timmy, you have to eat! You have to eat some sandwich! Eat a bite of sandwich, Timmy. Just one bite for Mommy. Timmy, please eat a little bit of the sandwich, okay, sweetie, and then you can go play? Timmy, we’re not going to do anything else until you eat some of your lunch.”
Originally, Mary had some other kids, and a husband. They’d try to carry on with their lives through this problem of Timmy’s, but Mary was so single-minded that she could not allow the conversation to take off. She’d say, “Oh, yes, dear, and then what did you– Timmy, honey, eat a bite of sandwich. Please, Timmy, eat some sandwich for Mommy. So, I’m sorry, Rachel, when are cheerleader tryou– uh, uh, Timmy, no more buttered bread until you eat more of your carrot sticks. Eat a carrot stick, Timmy. Eat some sandwich. Timmy, please eat some sandwich, Timmy, sandwich, Timmy, eat some sandwich.”
Eventually, the rest of Mary’s family quietly moved out, and who could blame them?
Sometimes, Mary would go out to eat with her friends, or she would show up at someone’s get-together – a dinner at their house, or a weekend at the beach. And she’d bring Timmy. Everyone would be talking and having a great time, and Mary would say, “I’m sorry, I just have to get him to eat something healthy at some point this weekend. Timmy, please eat some pasta. Yummy pasta, Timmy. Eat a bite for Mommy. Just one bite for Mommy and then you can leave the table. Timmy, please, eat two more bites and then you can go play. No, Timmy, no more buttered bread. Eat some pasta. Timmy, eat your pasta, come on now.”
Then, one of her friends would gesture toward the door, and they would all gather their children and quietly leave, and go to a bar or someone else’s house, or anywhere where Mary wasn’t.
One day, Mary took Timmy to the pediatrician. “He just won’t eat anything but buttered bread,” she said to the pediatrician. “I make him chicken and vegetables and pasta and grilled cheese and banana and hot dogs and Cheez-its and grapes, and he won’t eat any of it. I don’t know what to do!”
“Let him eat buttered bread, if that’s what he wants,” said the pediatrician. ”He’ll eat when he feels like it, God! You are the most annoying woman ever, and everyone hates you!”
For days, Mary couldn’t eat.