Place setting by a five-year-old girl


My five-year-old daughter asked to set the table a couple of night ago. Here's how she set her place.


  1. That macaroni and cheese looks almost as good as the COMPLETELY FANTASTIC table setting. It’s eating dinner like a rocket launch. In stages.

  2. i like how there are 3 plates for the macaroni. Im guessing the little one on the right was just to keep things symmetrical with the bananas?

  3. As the co-owner/admin of a five year old girl, this make *total* sense to me.

    I like your tablecloth btw.

  4. Clearly, she’s of the Patrick Zevo school of thought:

    “I can’t even eat. The food keeps touching. I like military plates, I’m a military man, I want a military meal. I want my string beans to be quarantined! I like a little fortress around my mashed potatoes so the meatloaf doesn’t invade my mashed potatoes and cause mixing in my plate! I HATE IT when food touches! I’m a military man, you understand that? And don’t let your food touch either, please?” – Patrick Zevo, Toys

  5. I reckon if that’s a cup of chicken stock up there in the corner she’s got all the food groups represented quite well.

    Screw the inverted food pyramid, Four Basic Food Groups FTW.

  6. I love it!

    And it’s actually fairly balanced.

    Cheese and Milk, quite nutritious. The fruit as well and balances out the gastrointestinal effects of all that cheese. Banana’s are an excellent source of potassium, and assuming that’s fruit juice it helps with the cheese as well. The peas and water are amazing for a youngster, she should be commended for the totality irrespective of her age, which just makes it even more amazing.

    Cudo’s to the genius child!


  7. Hmmm.

    How about this being a sample entry in a new contest?

    Have kids between 4 – 6 set a table, and the parents photograph it.

  8. I love tihs setting and am very interested to see whta other kid would do on their own, without any guidance. I’m into finger food, so this layout works for me (plus nothing touches).

    I love that she added something green (peas?). My youngest would put that one on the floor for the dog..

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. I have that exact oil cloth covering my desk! I wish my desk was covered in that delicious food, though…

  10. I like how she’s made an array out of the items, flanked by the silverware. She could probably tell you, by studying her layout, that the array represents 3 squared. You should keep this picture to submit to colleges as proof that she was a math genius from birth!

  11. nigelstwin:

    > @7 I am TOTALLY appropriating the phrase
    > “co-owner/admin” That is COMPLETELY what I’ve
    > become.

    Admin talk – have you found they show signs of instability if you run them for more than 12 hours? I think it might be a memory leak.

  12. Why am I not surprised that there are two fruit portions with meals in your house? Clearly, fruitophilia is heritable. The only thing missing is a little altar for feeding the fig beetles.

  13. As a 22 year old college student I can safely say that this table setting represents breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a college budget. Your daughter is already preparing herself for 4 to 5 years of EasyMac, canned or bagged vegetables, and cheap fruit.

  14. mind implodingly cute.

    Look how bountiful the portions are now that they’re on appropriately shrunken dinnerware!

  15. It’s awesome that the fork and knife are in the correct location – even the knife blade is facing in!

  16. I really like that she has three beverages. As a Child i was obsessed with the “Nutritous Breakfast” as represented at the end of breakfast cereal commercials. as in “Atomic Sugar Bombs, a healthy part of this Nutritous Breakfast” And they would show a picture of a cornucopia of breakfast fare always with a glass of milk AND orange juice.

    I wanted both milk and orange juice to be served in two seperate glasses with my cereal preferably from glass pitchers.

    Mom went for it once. The cereal was too sweet and made the OJ taste bad while the glass of milk was sort of redundant because I already had milk on my cereal. It looks like she may have water as palate cleansor.

  17. My daughter, seven and also a fan of this trendy “small plates” thing, commented on your photo, “That sure looks like a lot of food for a five to eat!”

  18. #27: “As a Child i was obsessed with the “Nutritous Breakfast” as represented at the end of breakfast cereal commercials.”

    I remember my sisters and I once putting together a Complete Breakfast as shown on the back of the “Special K” box. It seemed really important to have it all, even the coffee.

  19. Awwww, you’re making me wistful! My youngest is past all that. In fact, she’s reading aloud to me as I cook dinner.

    Big props for letting your child take ownership of what she chooses to eat. (Within reason, of course.)

  20. Why is it that all kids love macaroni and cheese? Its on the kids meal menu at every restaurant, along with chicken nuggets and mozzarella sticks. Other than the green stuff, the only difference between that meal and a meal my kids would have designed when they were little is they would have had sliced turkey or ham rolled up in a slice of american cheese.

    How in the world did you get your daughter to voluntarily eat peas? I’m guessing with a bribe of a nice dessert afterwards.

  21. Truly elegant and logical. An admirable child.

    I spent years of my childhood in constant battle with my family (the philistines!) about the proper placement and consuming of my food.

    Basic rules:
    1. Distinct food items should not touch. For example: Spaghetti and spaghetti sauce are separate items and should never be mixed.

    2. Food should be eaten in the proper order.
    Barely acceptable first
    Acceptable second
    Favorite next
    Then after at least a 1 hour delay of sitting at the table, staring at the offending morsel, the smallest negotiated portion of the unacceptable food item would be grudging consumed.

    3. All beverages should be in a themed container. Tony the Tiger milk glass preferred at all times.

    4. Additional conditions to be added by myself when considered appropriate.

    One of the joys of being an adult is that now I can eat my food just the way I want to. Victory at last!

  22. Maybe Mark just cooks the peas really well? Though I’ve always liked peas myself. Hard to muck up unless you overcook them.

  23. Off topic a bit – I love english peas, but I’ve always had canned. I’m betting Mark only uses fresh fruits and veggies. How much better do fresh english peas taste?

  24. A blissfully complete lack of self-consciousness. Food should be fun! Isn’t this fun? Kids are so great.

  25. @9, that is one of my favorite quotes ever. I have been using that quote since I first saw Toys. I had no idea anyone else even remembered it.


  26. Supercute. It reminds me of my high-precision little sister, who (even though she’s now a woman of thirty) eats Jaffa Cakes according to a complex system that ends with a perfect circle of orange jam, and can somehow eat the chocolate off a Kit Kat without leaving a single bite mark on the biscuit inside (which is then broken into thirds before eating).

  27. Oh, yeah. I showed my roommate this picture. We’ve been studying it for the past few minutes. The conversation went:

    Gina: I like that she likes peas with her macaroni and cheese. And I like that it’s in threes. I understand her.

    Tavie: Milk, juice and water. I like this kid. I like this kid.

  28. #30

    “I remember my sisters and I once putting together a Complete Breakfast as shown on the back of the “Special K” box. It seemed really important to have it all, even the coffee.”

    especially the coffee

  29. Dude, I want your Mac N Cheese recipe please.

    Or, if it is box kind, which brand??

    I am sooo hungry for Mac N Cheese now.

  30. I have a five year old so I loved this post! With a few BBers with kids, I’d be thrilled to see (or something) set up… And I’m sure all the anti-breeder sorts would appreciate it as well.

    (I blog my own parenting fun at

  31. a flicker pool of settings done by children would be swell.

    Someone get on this!

    (having no children, I cannot oblige myself)

  32. Anonymous @27, Me too! I remember requesting such a breakfast spread from my mom and pointing to a TV commercial as reference. With seven children and no dishwasher, the proposal was dismissed out of hand.

  33. Awesome. I love the peas.

    I am owned and operated by a pair of {6,4}-year-olds.

    The 4-yr-old makes wonderful constructive errors in ontology; the 6-yr-old is far more literal…

    @56 +1 or some such.

  34. Do you think the redundant arrangement might be a sign of some type of multiple personality disorder?

  35. I also like the idea of a

    Keeps the baby eaters away from our precious snowflakes. I can use all the creative discussion I can get on raising my daughter. And we could secretly talk about steampunk when no one’s paying attention.

  36. teapot7 @20:

    > > @7 I am TOTALLY appropriating the phrase
    > > “co-owner/admin” That is COMPLETELY what I’ve
    > > become.
    > Admin talk – have you found they show signs of
    > instability if you run them for more than 12
    > hours? I think it might be a memory leak.

    I have trouble getting mine to shut down for the night. It usually takes between half an hour to an hour. Some of the processes seem to get stuck in an endless loop, and I get really random output.

  37. Tom Hale @36 How in the world did you get your daughter to voluntarily eat peas? I’m guessing with a bribe of a nice dessert afterwards.

    This is how I got my daughter so excited about broccoli that she dances around in the produce section and begs me to buy some: when she was a toddler, I ate it in front of her. She got curious about what I was eating and asked for a taste from my plate. She has loved broccoli ever since. We introduced most new foods this way. This is also how we discovered she loves coffee (decaf only!). I know a lot of taste likes and dislikes are individual and can’t be changed, but letting her make the initiative to try new things rather than offering them or pushing them on her has given her a real curiosity and sense of adventure about food.

  38. Gorgeous! Good for you for letting her do it her way, and good for her on such an awesome visual array!

    The question on my mind, though — and that of every other parent of a five year old, or one who used to be five…

    did she actually eat the peas, the orange, and the banana? Mine would have put out the visual display, but steadfastly refused to consume the peas.

    @Tom Hale — yes, fresh peas DO taste that much better. Wait til spring when they first show up, then buy them and take them straight home, shell them, and steam them. (the sugars begin to turn to starch amazingly quickly after they’ve been picked, so no storing them in the fridge for a few days, okay? And try to buy them from a fresh market if you can.) Top with a little melted butter, and OMFG…brilliance. Fresh peas steamed with a little butter (and chopped mint, if you so desire, but I never do) is heaven on earth. Followed a few weeks later by tender little asparagus spears….and fern sprouts. YUMMMM

  39. As brilliant as this system is, you can tell that she’s not the one who’s doing the dishes.

    The fewer dishes the better, is my general rule.

    I have a friend who, as a student, would take a tin of soup/ravioli/beans, remove the paper wrapping, open the tin, and place it directly onto the hob to heat up.

    Then he’d hold it with a dish towel and eat it with a fork. At the end of the meal, the tin goes in the bin/recycling, the dish towel goes back on the hook, and the fork/spoon just needs a quick rinse. Efficient!

  40. For several months, as soon as she’s woken up, my 3 year old daughter insists on going through her collection of 30 dessert recipe cards, selecting 10 of them, and making 5 of them out of different coloured playdough.

    What she makes *HAS* to precisely match the pictures on the recipe cards. Every day, one of her dolls is 5 years old, so she also insists she has to make a large cake out of playdough with intricate decorations & put candles in it.

    She then asks me to “clear the table, Daddy”. After I’ve done that, she then puts down a table cloth, lays the table for several people ( cups/saucers/big & small plates/cutlery/teapots etc etc) and places the cake in the middle.

    I then have to turn out the lights and sing “Happy Birthday” and then “For she’s a jolly good fellow…”

    She then cuts the birthday cake with a plastic knife, and serves it to everyone who has come to the imaginary party…

    …at 6am!!

    I just sit back & help her whenever she asks for it, otherwise I just let her get on with it. Her table layouts & cake making gets more sophisticated every day.

    @56: or a parenting category would be really great!

  41. re: 13strong at #73
    eating from the can is an ancient tradition. I wonder though, is it still safe? Once upon a time, the tins were lead soldered. Today they are lined with bisphenol A (now banned in some countries). Is it safe to eat canned food from the heated can?

  42. cute..but what this might really tell us is why kids sometime reject a meal,they are intimidated
    by the size of the plate and what looks like to them as a huge pile of food..something small they can handle is more to their likeing..
    maybe someone could show us what a adult would see if a meal “in kids eyes” were set before them…..maybe the Mac and Cheese would look like it was being served up in the kitchen sink–

  43. That’s awesome. I got 3 girls (7/4/1) so I can appreciate it all. My oldest sometimes makes fruit salad for us for breakfast while we remain in bed (at 6:00am or so). We can tell because of all the noise coming from the kitchen. The volume of dishes to wash afterwards is mind blowing.

  44. I especially like that there are 3 beverages to go with the 3 courses. Or is it 6?

    Also, is there a color scheme being implemented there? The only contrary colors are the peas. (I’m counting the orange and the banana on separate sides of the yellow/orange scale).

  45. Don’t get me wrong guys, I love kids, and am tickled by their earnest sincerity in doing stuff like this, as they work their way to sorting out the world and their place in it. And it is delightful how they reveal their personalities, and maybe take us to that sweet and simple time in our own lives.
    And if it happens to be our own child, well! Who hasn’t regaled a friend, co-worker, hell, any random stranger with tales of our offspring’s precocious talents. And of course our power of description can in no way convey the total awesomeness of the apple of our eye. So popping this upon BB for all to see is completely understandable to me.
    But (you knew it was coming), how is this so very different to the post that appeared in response to the Onion/YouTube bit, where a poster singled out a video of some cat lovers precious snookums eating their chow?
    Why does the other guy’s everday routine pleasure seem trivial compared to our own? His vacation pix, her story of her child’s witticism, their nauseatingly cute video of their pets, etc. Yet we all have our things we think are precious and cute, and want to share them.
    What’s up with that? I’m really curious about it. On the one hand it reveals to me how much we have in common; we all love our kids, pets, funny stories, whatever. While we do connect with some of each other’s stuff (I notice most of the posts above were glowing) often we seem to get turned off by the guy with the photo of his cat in his wallet, or the 20 minute description of the funny comment her child made in class. It seems commonplace, saccharine, certainly not as interesting as our……
    Any thoughts?

  46. @79: You make an interesting point. I think the call for a “” area or category is acknowledgment that the post doesn’t *quite* fit the main site.

    By the same token, everyone’s willing to cut Mark some slack because, dammit, it’s just plain cute.

  47. I would try this with my kid except he’d only have the 3 plates of macaroni and maybe…maybe some apple juice.

  48. @:#9 TYGER11: LOLZ!!! and some more LOLZ!

    And yes! @ #26. I too noticed the knife facing the appropriate direction. But hey, I’m a bit anal in certain ways. ‘Cleaning the house’ for me means wiping down the baseboards and the tops of doors…

    And for whatever reason the three plates of macaroni seem to make perfect sense.

  49. Man, those little plates are just right for holding up to the mouth and just scooping the goodness right in.

    Om nom nom.

  50. I don’t know about five year olds, but from my own experience 2 1/2 year olds tend to need three cups or glasses for some sort of ongoing physical experimentation with liquids (swapping the fluids back and forth, trying how much of apple juice can be put into the glass with milk before parents react and so on)

  51. Anon @ #72:

    My older daughter voluntarily eats the vegetables on the table first. Even if there are no adults around. Her younger sister is pickier, but still eats many more diverse servings of veggies than required by the food pyramid.

    Jackie @ #71 had a great solution for how to get children interested in veggies. My trick was to serve them first, while I was working on the rest of the meal. If they’re hungry enough, most toddlers will eat anything. That got my kids past the first few tries so that they got used to the taste.

    Sadly, the older one is now in middle school, and so we’ve had to work out an agreement that no veggies are visible in her lunch (hidden in pre-cooked leftovers is OK). Yes, she was getting teased about eating veggies. So, she just eats them after school for a snack, and at dinner.

    Sometimes it’s other people’s kids that you have to work around.

  52. TAKUAN (#77) – I don’t know how safe it is! He was always a slightly odd guy, so it’s hard to judge the effect of heated tins on his noggin, but that said, I don’t think it’s affected him physically. He just ran a marathon, and has spent the last year or so trekking across the Americas.

    If it has had a physical effect on him, it’s some kind of superpower…

  53. You should post a picture of your average place-settings, to see how far she has strayed from the norm.

    I like the thought of each serving-sized portion having its own plate.

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