The great thing about the internet is that you can often gain different perspectives about things that occur, which can help you to consider something that has happened from multiple angles. This is why forums are so popular. People can go to them to find out if they are looking at something that has occurred in the wrong way and gain helpful advice from others. However, there are times when the questions of whether a person acted badly is pretty cut and dry, and people call them out on it. The following story, in which a mum of five asks if she was wrong to take food from her daughter’s friend’s plate that she had wrongly assumed the child wasn’t going to eat, fans firmly in the latter.
My husband (41) and I(40) have five daughters; Avery(13), Bella(7), Cassie(6), Daria(4), and Emily(1.5). The three middle girls are good friends with an autistic girl, Jenny(6), who regularly comes over to play with them. We’ve also included Jenny in plenty of family outings, ranging from the beach to bowling to amusement parks. Jenny’s mom has done the same for my girls, only she takes them with her one at a time as she’s also autistic and not used to caring for multiple children since Jenny’s an only child.
We had Jenny over for a sleepover this weekend and took her out for lunch. Jenny and Daria ordered the same meal; chicken tenders and french fries, and I noticed that Daria finished her chicken before eating her fries, and Jenny ate all but one before moving on to her fries. About halfway through the meal, Avery had to go to the bathroom and offered to take the younger kids with her if they needed to go. Bella, Cassie, Daria, and Jenny went to the bathroom with Avery while my husband and I stayed at the table with Emily. While the older girls were gone, I saw Jenny still hadn’t eaten her last chicken tender and, assuming she wasn’t going to eat it, gave it to Emily, who ate a little more than half of it before her sisters and Jenny returned. After sitting down, Jenny noticed her chicken was gone and asked what happened to it. I told her, “You weren’t eating it, so Emily ate it.” She said she was “saving it for last” and looked like she was about to have a meltdown (which I still have yet to deal with in public), so I took the little piece of chicken Emily didn’t eat and gave it back to her, but she refused to eat it because it had “baby germs” on it.
When Jenny’s mom came to pick her up later that day, she told her mother about it. Her mom called me inconsiderate and said I should’ve waited for her to return and asked her before giving it away and told me that she often saves certain foods for last too (must be an autistic thing) before having Jenny say goodbye to my girls and leaving.
My husband and I talked about this and he said he agrees with Jenny’s mom’s point about asking her first, I think she overreacted, and the kids haven’t brought it up. Now that the weekend’s over, my husband suggested I take this to Reddit for an unbiased opinion, so here I am.
It was almost universally decided by everyone in the comments that not only was she wrong to take the child’s food, she should also take a long hard look at her ableist attitude and the words she chose to describe the incident.
The ages don’t matter here, the friend having autism doesn’t matter here. The only thing that matters here is that you took food from someone and gave it away.
You are a parent, so I imagine you have your meals interrupted a lot, so how would you feel if you got up to clean up a spill or to fill a cup and came back and your food had been given away? That’s what you did. Period. You took something without asking and then didn’t even apologize or fix the situation. So you lack the manners you probably want your children to have.
Children can have autonomy and deserve to be treated with respect. You would never do what you did to Jenny to an adult, nor would you want that to happen to your food. Not only did you make an assumption that was wrong, you made that assumption out of a lack of respect for Jenny, and then you didn’t even attempt to fix the situation or apologize.
Also, none of this has anything to do with autism. I save the best bite for last, or the best thing on the plate all the time. You don’t need to appear so confused and befuddled by what must be autism, she wasn’t done with her meal, period. People eat food at their own pace and in their own way and it isn’t confusing to just leave their food alone. (mfruitfly)
People were quite rightly not prepared to let her use the child’s autism to try to frame the encounter as the child’s fault.
YTA for giving a child’s food away and also a big one for saying “must be an autistic thing”. Have you never heard the term “save the best for last”?
Why not purchase more food if your child was still hungry? (stephieVee)
Not only did you give someone’s food away, but you also attribute to her saving food to her autism. As someone not on the spectrum, I save bites of food for last because they look the best and I save the best bite for last.
Do better. (COLGkenny)
YTA and how dare you try to blame someone’s autism for your own rude behaviour?
Imagine you were part way through eating a meal and went to the bathroom, then came back and someone had eaten your food. Now imagine you hadn’t yet eaten your favourite part of the meal. Don’t lie and say you wouldn’t care because that was your food and you would care a lot. Now imagine that their excuse was, “The way you eat is weird.” How does that even make sense?
Keep your dirty hands off of other people’s food and apologize to that poor girl whose meal you ruined.
Edit to add: You waited until someone went to the bathroom and then you stole their food. A little girl. You stole food from a little girl. That’s a big deal.
And autism has nothing to do with it. “I did this incredibly rude thing, but they’re autistic!” Isn’t the watertight excuse you seem to think it is. Try swapping “autistic” for “gay” or “Black” and let me know how your story sounds.
Signed, an autistic person who typically knows when something is related to autism and when someone’s just being an AH. (Jane-Murdoch)
People were also horrified that the mum had expected Jenny to want to eat a partially eaten tender that had been mauled by a toddler!
Plus the gall to put the half slobberd on and eaten chicken tenders back on Jenny’s plate like that was a solution??? Who does that, no accountability she didn’t care at all about Jenny’s feelings and chalking it up to an “austism” thing is disgusting, abelist and dismissive.
I would be disgusted and insulted if somone handed me a toddlers left overs and was like “enjoy!”
Yea, no thanks I’m sure you’re fine eating off your little bundle of joy, but it’s gonna be a hard pass from me.
I could NEVER imagine just giving away someone food without asking, I don’t even take a fry from someone without asking, but to just give away someone’s food and then give it back half eaten, how can OP not see they’re a giant ah. YTA (GrlHasNoGame)
Seriously, I love toddlers but I will never accept food from them, the idea has me ready to throw up. Anyone has seen a toddler eat knows that yes, the food is 100% covered in “baby germs.” OP is TA in every regard here. (throwawehhhhhhhh1234)
Yeah, no thanks lady! That just adds insult to injury!
Let’s hope OP reflects on the comments and does indeed do better moving forward!
What do you think? Was she making prejudiced assumptions about her daughter’s friend because she has autism, or was it a genuine, hermless mistake?