promises broken with substitutes

Does a substitute fulfil a promise?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, D. Avery stepped in (substituted) for Charli Mills by posing the weekly flash fiction prompt. (Charli is working industriously on her thesis for submission this week!)

D. Avery’s challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a substitution. How might a character or situation be impacted by a stand-in? Bonus points for fairy tale elements. Go where the prompt leads.

I recently posed a question about the effectiveness of rewards. Aligned with that are promises of rewards and threats of punishment — strategies used by parents (and others) in an attempt to control another’s behaviour.

I think the conversation around that previous post must have somehow influenced my response to this prompt. See what you think.

I won’t elaborate any further on rewards and punishments for now, but will allow the flash to speak for itself. I don’t get the bonus points for including fairy tale elements. I’m sorry to say that scenes like this are more real than fairy tale.

Special Substitution

“Where’s my Burger Special? You promised!”

“Here, sweetie.”

“Burger Specials have chips, not carrot sticks!”

The carrot sticks plummeted to the floor.

“I substituted them, hon. Carrot sticks are healthier. We want to be healthy, don’t we?”

A mouthful of half-chewed bun adorned the table. “That’s disgusting!”

“Multi-grain’s healthier. Try some more. You will like it.”

“I don’t want substitutes.”

The poorly-disguised plant-based patty frisbeed across the room.

The parent hauled the protester from the restaurant.

“You promised Burger Special!”

“You’ll get something special, as soon as we get home.”

“There’s no substitute for proper parenting,” tut-tutted a diner.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

41 thoughts on “Does a substitute fulfil a promise?

    1. Norah Post author

      It’s definitely not easy. I think the guide books for our parents were easier – do what you’re told – because I said so – but I think a more democratic approach is better for us all in the long run. It’s difficult to get right without guidance though. Even with guidance, it is still difficult.

      Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      That was the point of the story, Sarah. I’m pleased you saw it. I was beginning to think I hadn’t made it clear that the mother had reneged on a promise – not a good thing to do. Promises as a way of coercion are not good for a start, and breaking one – well that’s just setting oneself up for disaster – now and in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        Agreed. I see breaking a promise as a breach of trust. It’s similar to lying (even if you didn’t mean to break the promise–say, you forgot or you truly weren’t able to keep it) in the sense that a child might get that abstract, uneasy feeling of uncertainty.

        Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Anne. I agree. It is very difficult for parents. But some make it more difficult for themselves by making promises they don’t keep and then making threats which, sadly, they probably will keep. There are better ways.

      Liked by 2 people

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  1. Pingback: Substituting « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

    1. Norah Post author

      I was a substitute teacher for a while. I much preferred having my own class.
      With your proper parenting, the child would never behave that way – you wouldn’t make a promise and then break it, I’m sure.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Loved your tale Norah! I think I have seen this a time or two in real life. It is too bad when parents create battles around food with their kids. When it’s done right kids grow up preferring good foods and do not crave the forbidden fruits. This is a great follow up in many ways to your thinking on “Punished By Rewards” and now reminds me that one of the online modules for my recent Pre-K training had all to do with nutrition and how healthy eating can be encouraged. This mother in your flash means well and just blew it.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I think she just needs to read a little of Alfie Kohn. 🙂
      None of us are perfect and most (all) of us set out with good intentions and do our best with what we know. I think it’s important to remember that when we may be quick to judge the behaviour of others.

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      Reply
  3. srbottch

    On the one hand, when you take a kid to the fast food place, make it fun and let them splurge on the high cholesterol stuff, save the healthy bits for home. On the other hand, can’t wait to see what the ‘reward’ is at home. Ouch! Enjoyed your story.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading, Steve. I agree. I don’t think there’s much point in going to a fast food place and choosing unappetising ‘healthy’ choices, particularly after promising the treat of an unhealthy special burger. I think it might have been an ouch at home. It was pretty much an ouch in the restaurant too. I think this parent could learn a thing or two from you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. Prior...

    i am sad about fake meat and all the substitutes that are touted as better when industrial oils and sugar are the real culprits pulling from health
    and in your piece
    i like the way you led us from carrots to grain bun to the frisbee fake meat!
    hahahaha
    well
    done

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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