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 CafĂ© Red—Max's choice of name—got its start.


  1. That's so cute. My mom got creative to get us to eat too

  2. I love that you make him giggle!

    Eating can be tough when tired. If my son doesn't eat by 6 pm, he doesn't eat! He's just too tired. We have accepted this and adjusted to it.

  3. I can feel ravenously hungry and then stuffed-to-the gills full after eating a spoonful of yogurt. Why do you think Max needs to put on more weight? Is it to have reserves in case of growth spurts?

    1. It's a mom thing, he's very slim and I hate to see him skipping meals/snacks.

    2. It's tempting, isn't it? But really, you should trust your doctor or get a new one. If he says Maxi is fine then he is fine. If you teach him to eat even when his body is not telling him he is hungry you'll create an overweight over eater. And that's not healthy for anyone let alone a person with another medical condition.

      Also, are you sure he isn't constipated? Getting/feeling full all the time can be a sign of chronic constipation. Which can lead to weight loss. It's generally considered a common problem for children these days and double for children with neuromuscle diseases.

    3. Ya know, Jennifer D., neither the pediatrician nor the nutrition expert Max saw brought this up. You are spot on, I think he has some issues there. I actually brought this up at his IEP meeting today and for one, we are going to keep a cup of water at Max's desk during the day so he will be encouraged to drink more. I am calling the nutrition expert tomorrow and talking to her about this. Thank you so, so much.

    4. I have CP and can struggle with that as well. The "Kelloggs Breakfast To Go" shakes always help.They have protein and fiber, bonus... The chocolate flavor is very good. They sell them on Amazon.

    5. Your welcome. I deal with it as does my daughter. We know all too well the fun of chronic constipation.

  4. My mom had to get creative to get me to eat too. This is really cute.

  5. Maybe you could get him to pay you in hugs, or kisses, or high fives, or handshakes, or from a special sticker stash, or whatever is appropriate for Max. Sounds like he has the monetary part mastered already.

  6. Thanks for this great post! I re-blogged on


Thanks for sharing!

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