Day Three: Constructive Eating Mealtime Set
Remember that scene in Christmas Story where Randy slops his meatloaf around and builds a mashed potato mountain? Eventually, to his father’s dismay, he plunges his face into the whole mess, snorting like a pig while mom exclaims, Show me how the piggies eat!
A true piece of Americana, that scene, as it so perfectly reflects everything kinda funky about mid-century dinnertime: the heaping, gelatinous portions of carbohydrates, the insistence that a child clean his plate, the overworked father silently stewing at the head of the table. But no matter what century we’re in, one thing doesn’t change: little kids are finicky about food. We know this is completely appropriate to their stage of development—they are sensitive to textures, they have difficulty sitting at a table for more than 10-15 minutes, they are busy defining their likes and dislikes and asserting those wherever possible. They are slow eaters or too fast eaters or nothing can touch on the plate or things must be eaten in a certain order; whatever it is, it’s normal. We’re lucky when we find something that helps us cope with the circus that dinner has become.
In this case, that something is Constructive Eating’s Mealtime Set ($19.95). Based on the idea that utensils are vehicles for food, and combining that with the fact that your toddler wants to (and must, according to Penelope Leach) play with his food, CE’s concept is shrewd: make the fully-functioning utensils into construction-site vehicles. That way, a toddler is excited to use them, and the notion that those tools are designed to deliver something to your mouth (and not there to flick or fling or tap) is reiterated.
Every set includes a wide-bodied Fork Lift Fork and a sizeable Front Loader Spoon. My favorite is the third utensil, The Pusher, which takes what your toddler already does (i.e Randy slopping and sliding mashies around) and converts that impulse into a way to get the food on your spoon, fork, etc. So The Pusher just rams the food where you need it to go. The utensils have the standard black-and-yellow construction vehicle motif with tire-track handles for good gripping. It’s all BPA and Pthalate-Free, with no paint, no lead and dishwasher safe. The only problem here is your child may want to take them from the table and play with them elsewhere. Restricting these utensils to mealtime only gives the entire affair a kind of mystique, which I recommend exploiting for as long as it holds out.
For stores go to www.constructiveeating.com
Photo courtesy of Constructive Eating
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