Spaghetti with Meatballs and…Some Parents Are Just So Negligent!

While we’re on the subject of broken toes, Alfie did actually break his own toe and I had nothing to do with it.

It was right before Christmas and Alfie was three and it was a year since my own toe had been snapped in Far North Queensland.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

I was organising a Christmas Production with around 120 children in it.  I’d cast Alfie as a bunny.  On the day of the production we had an early morning rehearsal and I had to direct the rehearsal while also supervising Alfie.  (He didn’t get a lot of supervision).   Some time after the rehearsal while I was still in the auditorium putting the final touches to the show, Alfie removed his shoes and wandered off.  And that was fairly typical.  He went out of the auditorium and roamed the grounds before coming back to find me.  To get back into the auditorium he had to open a large glass commercial door that was framed in steel and as he yanked the door open he pulled it over his foot.

I had no idea what had happened to him and I was focused on other things so even though I saw him in the foyer looking a little pale and being still and very quiet, I rushed past him telling him to follow me and hop into the car.  And he did what he was told which was also a bit unusual.

When I turned my head to reverse out of my car space I saw him in his car seat and noticed the toe nail from his big toe was dangling from his foot.  I also saw a lot of blood.  I couldn’t believe he wasn’t screaming.  I didn’t want to sound the alarm so I calmly drove home and then suggested to Alfie that we put a bandage around the foot.  And that was all I did because the show had to go on!

I gave him some panadol, put him in his bunny suit, put him back in the car and put him on stage.  He thoroughly enjoyed himself and even hopped around the stage.  And he didn’t mention his toe so I sort of, well I, pretty much, forgot about it.

My little Christmas bunny looking bedraggled with his big sister after the show

The next morning was December 23 and I was busy in the kitchen making a gingerbread house when Alfie came in and banged his toe on a cupboard.  He screwed up his face like he was in immense pain and started crying.  That’s when I remembered the dangling toe nail.  I removed the bandage to see how it was and it looked terrible.  So much worse than I remembered it and I couldn’t believe he hadn’t been complaining.  He hadn’t even mentioned it being sore.

I took him to the doctor who was alarmed when she saw it and asked in a horrified tone, ‘How long’s it been like this?’

And I said, ‘Oh, not that long’, because I was starting to feel like a negligent mother.

She told me I had to take him straight to the hospital.  The doctors at the hospital said he needed surgery to remove the rest of the toe nail, try to save the nail bed and strap the toe because it was fractured.  And then they said, ‘How long’s it been like this?’, like they were in utter disbelief that any parent with a child in that condition wouldn’t immediately take them straight to hospital.  And again I said, ‘Oh, not that long’, which wasn’t true because it was now quite some time since the toe had been scrapped by a door but I didn’t want to be too honest in case they called Community Services.

And I was starting to wonder how it was that I’d had him hopping about on stage the night before with nothing but a simple bandage and a dose of panadol.

Alfie had his operation and we came home from hospital on Christmas Eve with his foot in a very sophisticated bandage and plenty of pain relief.

And today Alfie is very weary of large commercial doors.

Have you ever felt like a negligent parent?  Or have you ever been the victim of a negligent parent (who was just trying to do their best but became a little distracted because he/she was super busy directing a play with too many in the cast and it was just a few days before Christmas)?

Alfie’s favourite food is pasta.  This recipe was originally by Jill Dupleix from a long-ago Delicious Magazine Recipe.  Her meatballs were Greek inspired and made from lamb and served with mashed potato but that won’t do around here so I’m serving them with pasta.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Alfie’s favourite dinner

Serves:  4-6

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is another terrific meal that is not only simple to prepare but it will feed a family of 4-5 for less than $20.00.


  • 3 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 500gms mince
  • 1/2 an onion, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbspn finely chopped parsley
  • 1 lightly beaten egg

Tomato Sauce

  • 700mls passata
  • remainder of the red wine (see method)
  • 1 tbspn tomato paste
  • 1 tspn sugar
  • 2 cloves finely diced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbspns finely chopped parsley


  • 500gms spaghetti

Pre-heat oven to 180C/375F.

Place bread in a small bowl and pour over the wine and set aside for 15 minutes.

In another larger bowl add mince, onion, garlic, parsley and egg.  Squeeze bread to remove as much wine as possible and set wine aside to use in the tomato sauce.  Season.  Mix together then roll into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

For the sauce:

In a large frying pan add all the sauce ingredients including the red wine and simmer for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add meatballs and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Serve in bowls on top of twirled pasta.

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  1. I do not believe I have ever had meatballs in sauce….these look so tasty:)

  2. I started out pretty relaxed with Lil, and she was a pretty easy going baby. Only there was one occasion where she’d been a little grizzly for a few days so I took her to our GP. Turned out that she had a double ear infection. That meant antibiotics, which eventually resulted in an allergic reaction characterised by a huge rash, all-over swelling, and a sky-high temperature. She had to take steroids for almost a week. And yes, it was as fun as it sounds.

  3. Yes!! (nodding, laughing and remembering!) This story rings so true for my son – from mouth injuries, to concussion, my little man has had too many a ‘you’ll be right’, ‘let’s see how we are in the morning’, ‘panadol and neurophen together should do the trick!’ – only to see the doctor the following week, doctor horrified haha!! They’re all alive, and that’s the main part, right!?!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Oh Deb! And it’s always the boys! Doctors should learn not to be so horrified! We’re all just out there trying to do our best!

  4. I hardly think you ever neglected your children!! It’s just one of those things, and a great story to tell!! Alfie can use it to his advantage I suppose! Meatballs and spaghetti – That was Sunday dinner at my house every day of my life growing up!!!

  5. My daughter’s been asking me to make this dish for such a long time now. She saw one of her friends bring spagetti with meatballs to school, and was tempted to try it. Looks like I found the perfect recipe! Thank you.

  6. The balls look lovely and the red wine addition sounds very original. Great read as usually!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Sissi. Yes, a touch of red wine makes a lovely addition. Some for the pot and some for the cook of course!

  7. Alfie was a tough little guy to bear the discomfort and all the demands on your time were a distraction from paying the kind of attention to the incident that you normally would … thankfully, the consequences weren’t more serious. But he has great guilt-inspiring material to hang over you. 🙂

    The meatballs and ‘pasketty look delicious.

  8. OMG, I have definitely felt like a negligent parent! Most often, when I’m distracted in the kitchen. For example, my mom stayed with my family over the Christmas holidays and she was sitting at the table eating with my ponytails, while I was still fussing in the kitchen. My youngest daughter (who is 3) took a LARGE bite of pizza and started to choke. Fortunately my mother was right with her and was able to intervene…but it was really serious as my daughter couldn’t breathe. I am SO thankful that my mom was right there, because I wasn’t watching and I wouldn’t have responded so quickly. In any event, I think you deserve a medal for putting on a production with 120 youngsters. That is truly amazing….and I’m glad things turned out okay with your son in the end.

  9. Spaghetti and meat balls. YUM!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Oh John, I’m sure I haven’t done justice to what you would call spaghetti and meatballs. I’d love to see your recipe one day!

      • Nonsense! I read your recipe and I bet it tastes wonderful! Using a bit of red wine in the meatballs is a great touch and I bet it adds a ton of flavor.

        • hotlyspiced says:

          Thanks John. And it’s always good to open some wine for the cooking because there’s always plenty left for the cook!

  10. This is my husband’s favourite…looks delish!

  11. You’ve got a tough little guy there! And of course if you’d had any idea, you’d have had him to the hospital lickety split, no doubt. I’ll bet every kid and every parent has a similar story…part of childhood. My husband is still a kid when it comes to meatballs and spaghetti…his fave!

  12. Just last year my littlej went to a sleepover and came home complaining of a sore hand. I made her wiggle it and it looked OK so told her shed be fine and tuned out. That afternoon she had a clarinet recital, played with her friends, but complained again at bedtime. I figured she’d just had a big day. Day 3 and her hand and down her wrist started turning black…. Nasty green stick fracture. I felt awful. Like you, I had assumed something like that would involve a LOT more sooking and tears 🙁 I offer my children therapy for their 13th birthdays.

  13. i had to laugh, so so sorry. I think you just got the medal for negligent mother!!!! but i totally understand, what an amazing kid not complaining. apparently my hubby broke his arm and his mum left it a couple of days before taking him to the doctor…..

  14. I once broke my finger and didn’t tell my mum because I thought I’d get into more trouble about breaking my finger than what I would have if I’d told her how I broke it. My cousins and I were jumping off the back platform onto a mattress. It wasn’t THAT high, and the mattress was SUPPOSED to cushion the impact. Fail.

    This dish, however, is not a fail. It’s one of my family’s favourite. Lovely 🙂

  15. I know how you feel. I felt like I was a negligent parent when my little one 2 1/2 and she fell off one of the kitchen chairs and hit the back of her head on the wood floor in the kitchen and punctured her lip in two spots inside her mouth and once on the outside. Thankfully no concussion but man did she have a very fat lip. I took her to the ER and when they asked me how she hurt herself I told them the truth and was so scared when the doctor came in that she was going to chastise me for being a bad mom. Thankfully when I told the ER dr ,that night, and her pediatrician the next day both of them laughed and related that they have had similar experiences with their own kids. December was one year and I still feel really bad when I think about it. I broke my little toe last fall and I was in agony I don’t know how Alfie hopped on it and didn’t really complain until the next day! Like my daughter he was a trooper!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      With children, accidents happen so very quickly. How wonderful that your doctor and paediatrician both have a sense of humour!

  16. Spaghetti and meatballs are one of my favorite comfort foods…looks delicious! 🙂

  17. You hardly sound like a negligent parent. I always lamented that babies don’t arrive with instruction manuals! Sounds like Alfie was just doing what boys do, being active and getting on with things.

    I tend to like Jill Dupleix’s recipes–and this one looks great!

  18. I am not a negligent parent yet but I aspire to be one one day when we have kids. I love your hilarious stories though in the meantime.

    Nothing like tasty meatballs in a tomato sauce…delicious!

  19. I hope Alfie is not scarred for life! *snickers* And can I have some spaghetti?

  20. As the mother of two now mostly grown, formerly rowdy and danger loving boys, I can say truly that a certain amount of negligence goes with the territory of parenting amidst a busy life. We are only human and not perfect. All we can ask for is to be a good enough parent. Alfie is a brave guy who knows he’s loved. He’ll definitely use this one on you. (Wink)

  21. Such beautiful children, top of the gene pool!

  22. Poor Alfie! I can imagine it’s quite easy to forget things like this too when you are busy!

  23. I love spaghetti and meatballs! If he wasn’t crying or showing any sign of pain then you’re still the perfect mother!

  24. Lamb is such an under utilized meat here in the States and I thoroughly applaud when I see them in meatballs.

  25. Ouch – reading that whole finger-nail incident really made me feel a bit squeamish 🙁 As it happens, I happen to love pasta and meatballs, so I can imagine this is a real cheery dish after a bit of trauma 🙂

  26. Ooh, not a story for the faint-of-heart (though spaghetti and meatballs are great comfort food for just about anything). Funny how doctors can make us feel so insecure about our parenting skills – like they don’t have any children of their own. Thank you for sharing (and thank you for visiting my site – always nice to have new visitors).

  27. Holds hand up. See comment on right-angle toe post and mother who wouldn’t believe it was broken. 😉

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