As a child, I thought the timer was a cruel way to enforce the eating requirements at my house. I thought my parents were just plain mean and I thought they were the only parents on the planet to use such cruel parenting methods.
I have since learned the truth. They were merely praying that us children would finish a meal in under two hours. I now have pokey eaters of my own and I set a timer when I just can't stand to have them sit at the table any longer.
All my children commit the pokey eating offense, but Michael is by far the worst. On non-school days, he can sit and eat the same bowl of cereal for an hour. I'm not even exaggerating. How anyone could still stomache the same bowl of cereal after that much time is beyond me. I think breakfast was perhaps the only time I didn't need a timer set to encourage actual eating. But Michael, he will stare into space, sing songs, have detailed conversations and SLOWLY eat his breakfast. The only meal that doesn't usually require threats to life and limb is lunch. And that's only because he has friends waiting in the wing.
Pokey eating can be made exponentially worse by meals that are not conducive to children. (This is any food that has red, or green items in them, or is not on the favorites list.) Then the pokey eating is enhanced by whining, crying, and gnashing of teeth. This could essentially go on forever if not for the timer. Though the setting of the timer is often followed by cries of woe. How could mom set the timer? She's soooooo mean!!!
That's right, I'm mean! Oh well, someday they will have pokey eaters of their own and see the wisdom of THE TIMER!!