It's a classic correction to tell kids not to play with their food, so I laughed the other day when a friend of Zion's who was over for dinner tried it out on him. It was totally justified in that he was indeed playing with his food, making two pieces of his garlic bread walk around and talk with each other... pretty typical, actually.
I can see why parents might object to that sort of thing. Some kids have trouble eating enough healthy food, or even enough food at all. Zion might even be one of them: today for supper he had two bits of corn bread, for example. But with Harvey as our first child we never got into the habit of encouraging more eating, so it's easy for us to let that slide. Play at the table can also get noisy and disruptive to other diners, and in that case I certainly don't hesitate to shut it down. But mostly our boys know how to walk the line between charmingly silly (or at least ignorable) and oh-my-goodness out of control. Our version of the line, anyways.
And I even see a good side to how Zion plays with his food. Like his brother before him, the three-year-old Zion lives in a world of stories, where everything is playing something else and all the things have desires and motivations of their own. Yesterday his slice of cheese was being threatened with jail by, I believe, a fork. And with food, the characters are constantly being transformed by their author: the cheese had to change its story after Zion ate the piece he was using for its mouth. I won't attribute any great educational import to this sort of play, but I figure all this practice storytelling can't hurt, so I'll happily let it go. As long as it stays at indoor volumes, of course.