I have a couple eating things going on with my kids that totally annoy me. I mostly try to ignore them, but sometimes wonder if I should just put my foot down and push for a change.
Dd is 5. She has taken to playing with her snacks. She likes to chew food up and keep it in her mouth, or hold her beverage in her mouth. If she is trying to communicate with me while doing this, I insist that she swallow and then talk to me. With her snacks, when she's outside or I'm not at the table with her, she will chew them up and spit them back into a bowl or mix water in with her food and then eat it. Okay, as I type this it is totally gross, right? Anyway, right now she is having popcorn, that she mixed her water into. She is eating it. I think it's gross, but it's her food, right? She's not wasting it; I don't have to watch.
Ds is 2.5, and he will graze on the same bowl of food for 1-2 hours and freak out if he goes to the table and finds it missing. That just happened with his cereal. I cleared it an hour after breakfast when I served him popcorn, and then he wanted it again. I gave it back to him and he ate it. It's totally mushy, but hey, it's his food. I don't like not being able to clear the table, so maybe I can just let it be in the kitchen without scraping it in case he wants it. He's in a phase where he completely refuses to clear his own bowl, but I continue to request that he does.
We don't allow the poor table manners when we all sit down together for a meal or snack, or when we are away from home. I guess I see it as a kind of exploratory play, but it does bug me -- every time I catch a glimpse of her doing it, I wish I hadn't noticed.
So, although it may sound like it, I don't think I let my kids run all over me. I just try to choose my battles -- I'm not really big on rules for the most part. My kids are great eaters and eat a wide variety of healthy foods.
I'd love to hear some discussion on these things to help me gain perspective.