Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Getting your kid to eat: Why didn't I think of this sooner?
"Good evening, sir! Right this way to your table," I say.
Max's face lights up—he instantly gets this little charade of mine.
I pull back his chair at the kitchen table and Max sits down.
Max has taken off weight in the past year, and we're not exactly sure why. He had gotten a bit pudgy during his mac 'n cheese and chocolate milkshake phase of life, so it's possible his weight is correcting itself. (He now prefers stuffed shells and has them on occasion, along with a milkshake.) Some nights, come dinner, he claims he is still full from lunch. I even got his teacher and classmates to make a "Max, eat your dinner!" video to motivate him, but it doesn't always do the trick.
The doctor says Max's size is perfectly fine for his curve, and being on the lighter side when you have cerebral palsy is a good thing. Still, he could stand to have a little more meat on him.
So the other night when he said he didn't want snack because he was tired, I decided to sucker him into it.
"Tonight, sir, we are serving chocolate or strawberry yogurt," I inform him, knowing full well what he prefers. "Which would you prefer, sir?"
He giggles. Chocolate yogurt, it is.
"And would you like banana, too?" I ask.
"Yes!" he says.
"Coming right up, sir!" I chirp, and dash off to the fridge.
I mash some banana in a bowl, mix in the yogurt and present it to him with a dish towel over one arm.
"This is the chef's special!" I say. "I hope you enjoy it, sir!"
"Thank you!" Max says.
I love that I can still play this game with him, and that he gets a kick out of it. In some ways, I feel like I am making up for lost time because when Max was little, he didn't do much pretend play.
I watch him shovel the food into his mouth. It's a relief to see him eating.
"May I offer you water, sir?" I ask, and when he says yes I grab a pitcher, fill it up and pour him some.
When he's finished, I tell him the busboy is off for the night so I will clear the dishes. Then I write out a check and present it to him. "That'll be two dollars!" I announce. He giggles, again.
Max stands up and pushes his chair in (I appreciate that he always takes care to do that). Then he walks over to the garbage and throws the check away.
"Hey! That's against the law!" I say.
Max just smiles, and rubs his eyes. He's tired. I'm not concerned that he'll start dashing out of restaurants in real life without paying because he knows he has to. Often, we'll give him the credit card or cash to present to the cashier.
"OK, sir, I know you need to go so you can pay a little later!" I tell him. "Come back soon!"
And that's how Café Red—Max's choice of name—got its start.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:38 AM