Playing with food

2011 January 5
by Jennie

Proving yet again that it really takes very little for my children to entertain themselves, at dinner a few days ago, they created “oval beans.”

Yes, that would be shelled green beans in Annie’s macaroni shells….but presented just so.

Now, this dinner happened at the end of a very long day that included three ballet lessons, zero naps, and so many meltdowns I lost count.  Yet finally,we made it home for dinner, and the children–the tired, cranky, hungry children–began to eat…and to play with their food.

Charlotte began to shell her green beans, immediately eating the outsides and setting the actual beans aside. She also insisted on examining and dissecting each lima bean to see if it had sprouted at all. (A few actually had). She and Kathleen began comparing their veggies. Then they made the creations above, beans on the half shell, if you will.

The first thought that came to mind was, as you might expect, Stop playing with your food. Only sheer exhaustion caused me not to say it out loud.

And thankfully so, because my next thought was, Who cares if they’re playing with their food?  They are happily eating green beans. They are interested in learning how beans grow and sprout. They are working together to make these miniature, gourmet-to-children delights. They are proud of their work.

I’m pretty relaxed about mealtime because I have to be with three young children.  However, I do have some basic standards that I try to enforce, like using utensils. But that night, I just let go of all such notions and watched my children play with their food. I had to cook a second round of green beans! Even better than the high rate of vegetable consumption, I heard the tears, the whining, the frustrations that had marked the evening turn into giggles and bonding between sisters. I saw budding scientists examine and hypothesize, and I watched budding chefs work on their creative presentation skills.  I got all that just because I stepped back and let my children play with their food.

Playing with food is gross? Maybe. But I’m okay with that.

Shared at Works for Me Wednesday

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One Response leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011

    You know, eating with utensils isn’t standard in every country. In India they don’t even know what forks are! So why should we Americans stress over it so much? (Granted, it IS much easier to eat curry with a fork than with a chapati!)

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