Theo is no less whiny than he was about getting the food he wants when he wants it, but at least he is beginning to understand the concept of cooking.
He loves to have hard-boiled eggs as a snack when we get home on week nights. Up until recently he'd take the egg out of the carton and eggggspect it to be hard-boiled. He'd cry and throw a fit the whole time the eggs were cooking, no matter what I did to try to explain, let him help cook, or show him.
But now, he likes to help me put the eggs in the pot of water (before I turn on the flame, of course), and then he says, "eggs are cooking." Probably because he's heard me say it a million times and so I've mashed it into his head. He retires to the living room and goes about his business, occassionally remembering that the "eggs are cooking." He even comes back to the kitchen to check sometimes. He climbs on his stool and peers into the pot from a safe distance. He knows not to touch a hot pot. When I say, "don't touch, it's hot" he says "hot" and flaps his hand like I do.
After fifteen minutes we fill the pot with cold water to cool the eggs immediately. He reaches his hand into the pot and takes them over to the plate he has prepared on the table. This is the part where he's like his father. If there are two eggs in the pot he'll take two, and if there are five he'll take five. In other words, he'll eat everything that's in front of him. This is the tricky part. If I make only two, then he wants to cook more after he eats them. But if I make five he'll eat them all (bad, because there's a good chance he already had eggs with Anais, since he likes to eat them at her house, too). So I try to make three or four. Eggs aren't the worst thing to have too many of, expecially at his age. But I also want him to have room for dinner. Which he does...that kid can eat. Last night he had two bowls of rice and lentils with the sitter right before coming home, then at home he had leftover pasta, three eggs, and the saffon rice I made for myself.
Speaking of pasta... He takes the box and likes to put the pasta into the pot (the other day it was one excruciating rotini at a time). He then happily tells me that "pasta is cooking" and waits patiently. Again, he used to just think it was ready instantly.
Then there's the stuff that requires no cooking - mini raisin boxes, applesauce cups, cereal...when Theo decides he wants it, there's really no stopping him. Which is why I save junk food for special occasions, or we'd be in big trouble. He is, however, sending me to the poor house.
But Elyse, you say, can't you just say no? You're the mother! The answer is, Joe and I pick our battles due to Theo's tantrums when he doesn't get his way, tantrums that can very well last all night. We also have systems for hiding things. Theo keeps discovering my hiding spots and I keep having to find new ones. Who ever heard of a 3 year-old you have to hide raisins from? But I have to, because I need them to put into his lunch bag for school.