Except junk food. Kelli warned me of this, and she really wasn't kidding. He would absolutely REFUSE to eat EVERYTHING except for, like, Pringles and fruit snacks.
We went out to eat at Buca de Beppo last Friday night. It's this place where they serve HUGE portions of everything... The deal is that you share. We ordered gnocchi, eggplant parm, lasagna, and spaghetti and meatballs the size of softballs. Enough for eight, and we were but four (plus Kyle). As a sidenote, being the lone vegetarian, I was happy that I got to share my yummy eggplant parmesan with my family. Neither Amanda (at 14 years of age) nor Kelli (34) had had it yet. (!!!). So sheltered! I thought they would go, "Why yes, Stacey, a meatless dish can be tasty!" Instead, they agreed that it tasted "like it's made of sand." Hmpf.
Of course, Kyle refused to touch his food, even when I pretended the gnocchi was mac & cheese. We knew he had a weakness for cake, so Chris got the bright idea to order our dessert early.
The waitress was a bit confused when we ordered the $30 dessert sampler right after our entrees arrived, but quickly got the idea that it was to be bait for the kid. Just TELLING him he was going to get cake didn't seem to work, so we were hoping that having the cake THERE would make the concept concrete for him.
Soon, the waitress comes out with a, like, two-foot-long platter with cannolis, cheesecake, tiramisu, and a wedge of chocolate cake the size of Kyle's head. We nudged the rest of our plates to the side to make room for this gargantuan plate, and when it came to rest on the table, I looked at Kyle.
When Kyle's eyes fixed on the dessert platter, he honest-to-God FROZE. Completely froze, just staring at the desserts. Like he had never seen anything like this in his entire life. Which I guess makes sense, since he probably hadn't. When you're three, lots and lots of things are first-time experiences. (In Florida, he got to go to the ocean for the first time, got to swim (read: cry) in a backyard pool for the first time, saw alligators and all the rest of the Everglades wildlife in the wild for the first time, etc.)
Kelli realized what a magnificent bargaining tool she now had under her belt, and very self-confidently (almost... cockily) told Kyle that he had to eat his lasagna and could then have some cake. Smiling the whole time, knowing she was going to get her way. Knowing Kyle was powerless. Like that cake was a gun.
And sure enough, suddenly, Kyle was cooperative.
He ate his lasagna. As much as Mama said he had to. Then he got cake. And then wanted more cake, which he got. After all, this was vacation. And then, all of a sudden, he cried out: "My tummy!" Being mean ol' Aunt Stacey, I couldn't help but tease him a little: "Kyle, you want more cake?" "NO MORE CAKE!"
We had leftovers of EVERYTHING, including all the desserts... So the next day, when Kyle wouldn't eat his breakfast waffle, I went to the fridge and shaved off a little piece of chocolate cake. I placed this behind his waffle and said, "After you're done with your waffle, you can have cake." All of a sudden, Kyle loved his waffle. He was optimistic and cooperative. "I'm eating my waffle! I'm almost done with my waffle! I only have three bites of my waffle left! I am eating my breakfast!" THEN HE GOT CAKE.
Obviously, you can't do this type of thing on an ongoing basis, but I'm his absent aunt and this is Florida and vacation, dammit... It's hard to not just want to make it a happy time, for all of us. This decision also came into play when it came to TV. He wanted to watch TV all the time. He's scared of the pool, and instead just wanted to watch hours and hours of Noggin. After having him cry and cry and cry in the pool trying to get him to play, we just gave up and let him do what he wanted -- lay on the couch and watch TV. Alright then!