Distraction and Manipulation…

Funny how kids work and how important presentation really is. We were in New York this weekend. On Sunday we went to a nice restaurant, Isabella’s, with my aunt and uncle for brunch. The kids’ menu had grilled cheese and chicken fingers…so we opted instead for one adult plate to split between both boys. A breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, veggies, chorizo, black beans and avocado. The waitress was nice enough to bring the meal split in two already and each plate brought with it a mound of french fries.

Before any of us had a chance to process the meal, Orlando had already taken action. He grabbed the fries from each plate and dumped them in the bread basket!!! One would think he’s a crazy person, but his fatherly instinct screamed at him “get rid of the french fries if you want these kids to eat the meal!” As he moved the fries, both boys whined a little and reached for the fries, but he simply said…”first your meal, then the fries.”

No other mention was made of the fries and the boys proceeded to scarf up their meal which was delicious. I gotta hand it to Orlando. He was quick and slick with that move and it was so authoritative that he really didn’t give anyone at the table a chance to process what had happened. What happened was that he removed the bad and the tempting from the direct line of sight of a 2 and 4 year old. That allowed all of us to enjoy the meal without making the entire brunch about portion control or negotiation : “one more bite of the burrito, and you get one more french fry…” etc. Had I been alone, I would have made the mistake of leaving the french fries on the plates and my lunch wouldn’t have been nearly as pleasant.

1 cab, 1 train, 1 car ride and 3 hours later… I remembered the famous french fries and asked Orlando if he ever gave the kids any and he said to me “come to think of it, we all just forgot about the fries…they never asked me for any so they were left in the bread basket.” WOW. Talk about out of sight, out of mind. I think that is an important lesson for all of us. Even we adults are tempted with our eyes when a meal is presented to us at a restaurant. And french fries are just one of those items that you tend to overeat because they are bite sized and easy to pick at and before you know it you it you are stuffed and totally regret it. But Orlando taught me a huge lesson on Sunday. REMOVE THE TEMPTATION QUICK. FOCUS ON THE GOOD STUFF. And if after its all said and done, you still have room or desire for the french fries….then have some. But I’m sure you’ll eat a lot less of them than you would have at first impulse when they arrived.

Funny thing about my 4 year old Orly. Before arriving at the restaurant we had walked in to a bakery just to keep warm and stay away from the rain while we waited for my aunt and uncle. Orly’s little eyes were looking at all the treats and he wanted something sweet. When we were leaving the bakery, he whined and said…”I don’t want real food, I want a chocolate cookie.” So I said to him: “Orly, after you eat your lunch, I promise I’ll let you have a cookie…but you can’t have one right now.” Well, once we were at the table, one would have thought that the french fry temptation would have trumped the cookie desire…but it didn’t happen. Orly finished his burrito, looked me straight in the face and said “ok mom, now I want my cookie.” Promises are promises so we ordered a chocolate chip cookie ice cream thing we saw on the kids menu and had the boys split it. They loved it! My point is….i’m not advocating that you can’t treat the kids or let them splurge. But moderation is important for all of us. And in this case, the treat Orly “really” wanted was the cookie. But had we left those fries on his plate, that would have become his focus…and he still would’ve asked for the cookie. So at least I was able to feed him a good meal, offer him the cookie afterwards, and avoid one bad food. As far as I’m concerned, it was a successful lunch for the Rodriguez family!

Cheers to good choices!

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