Rebecca's Cooking Journal

salt and pepper

Train Restaurant, AKA Getting a Picky Eater to Eat

My husband is out of town for a two nights, the first time he’s travelled in a long time, and as he left in the afternoon, as dinner came around I was feeling a bit down. This was not fun! Trying to cook for two (and Raisin often does not like what I cook) does not feel worthwhile. Plus, we had leftovers in the fridge, so I decided the lazy side won out and went for those.

Then I had a brilliant idea. Raisin loves going to a restaurant, and he always orders Mac and Cheese. As soon as I say “restaurant,”  he yells out “I want Mac and Cheese!” So I told my son we were going to a restaurant for dinner. I welcomed him to the restaurant, sat him at the table, handed him a “menu” (really a piece of junk mail that was sitting on the counter) and asked him what he wanted: Mac and Cheese (left over from the other night when we did go to a restaurant) or Chicken Nuggets (other leftovers I had in the freezer for just such a night). He had a big smile as he pretended to read, then said, “Mac and Cheese!” I gave him two crackers to eat while he waited and a cup of milk with a straw, and he happily waited.

Then, out of the blue, Raisin said, “Mommy, it’s a train restaurant!” A few months ago (a year ago?!) we went to a restaurant that did have trains. We sat around a counter and a train “delivered” the food to us. He loved it. So I agreed it was a train restaurant, and got some GeoTrax from the basement. Soon, we had a small, circle track for our battery-operated train. But I wouldn’t turn it on until he took a bit of food!  Repeat for each bite.

I had mentioned that maybe after he ate we could have dessert. After a little while, he asked me for the “menu” again, and then he said, “I want some blueberry yogurt for dessert, please.” I hadn’t even suggested it, and I had been thinking of ice cream, but it was fun to know that for him it was a treat to have yogurt.

I noticed a lot of interesting things about this. I was treating him as if I were a waiter (“Hello, young man. What can I get you today?”) and acting all polite. As a result, instead of demanding as he usually does (“MILK! NOW!”), he mellowed out. “Can I please have some more milk please?” Was it the fact that we were in a restaurant (where he normally is more well behaved since it’s in public) or the fact that I was treating him nicer than I normally do?

At any rate, it made for a fun dinner and it got him to eat more than he would have eaten if I was grouchy as I had been when I was feeling sad that my husband was gone!

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