Ian is the only growing boy I know who needs to be cajoled, coerced, or threatened into eating anything except ice cream. It’s not that he’s all that picky&#8212though he is—it’s just that he doesn’t seem to enjoy eating all that much. He’d rather be talking or singing or punching my thighs with his fists.

What other kid needs to be convinced to finish his mac n’ cheese?

Last week we thought to give Ian a biological impetus for consuming mass quantities: we started eating dinner later in the evening. Like Spain, sin tapas. And it worked! There was no counting, no pleading, no ineffective looks over my glasses (it makes me feel imposing). He ate, and legitimately earned his dessert.

Fun while it lasted.

Last night we had spaghetti, which Ian likes. He wasn’t eating, which I don’t like; we’d planned to take Ian bike-riding, and I had a meeting soon after. Frustrated and tired, and not really wanting to drag him to the Naughty Step, I picked up the finger-phone, and gave it to Ian. ‘It’s for you.’

He grinned. ‘Hello?’

I held another phone to my ear, and looked away. ‘One…two…’ He took a bite. With Ian, this is only half the battle, because he doesn’t like chewing, either. He started talking. I kept the phone to my ear, ‘Hey, Ian! Oh, you’re eating? Okay. Well, call me back when you finish that bite.’

‘Okay!’ And he chewed, and he swallowed. ‘Rrrrrriiiiing! Rrrrriiiiing!’


‘Hi, Daddy!’

‘Hi! Did you finish your bite?’


‘Great! Why don’t you take another bite, and call me back?’


It worked. And kept working. ‘Hi, Ian! I’d love to go bike-riding! Call me when you’re finished, so we can go.’

‘Okay!’ And he did. He kept eating and calling, and I kept answering. I even tilted my head as I cleaning the saucepan, pretending to hold the phone on my shoulder. ‘Sorry, I’m washing dishes. Can I call you back?’


The only thing more surprising than the fact that this worked is that I thought of it in the first place.

One Response

  1. BabaFree
    BabaFree at | | Reply

    Genius! I hope that the trick keeps working, but if it goes the way of most, it’ll likely lose its appeal fast and a new trick will be needed. Oh, how I remember the days when all I had to do to get Reagan to listen was say, “1…”. I never even had to get to 2 most of the time. Now when I start to count he just grins at me, waits until I say, “3”, and takes off running. Again, though, kudos for the ingenuity. Your boy sounds like a cute one. Mine is just getting to the stage to reason with, so I have a feeling I’ll be trying this trick myself. He’s as picky as his mother with his food.

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