Here’s parenting Kai in a nutshell.

He’s decided to be *picky* about dinner.  “What’s for dinner?” he sing-songs into the kitchen, and I say something perfectly yummy and kid-friendly like “quesadillas and hot dogs” or “mac and cheese” and he says “no, thank you, I don’t want that” and then I either lose my grits and tell him he can eat what’s for dinner, or eat nothing for dinner, and then he’s sad and I’m angry and that’s a ton of fun…or, I can take a deep breath, and tell him this is what’s for dinner tonight, but if he wants, he can be in charge of his own dinner tomorrow night.

He agrees, cheerfully, and eats the hot dogs and quesadillas, and the next morning at breakfast reminds you that he’s in charge of his own dinner, to which you say “yup, you got it!” and continue drinking your coffee and reading more bad news on the ACHA on your phone.  Then, glancing up, you realize Kai has pulled out a book of recipes.

Warning.  Warning.  You thought you were agreeing to Kai making himself a peanut butter sandwich, and Kai thought he was getting a full grocery trip to pick up ingredients for a fun looking recipe in the Joy of Cooking.  You kick yourself for having the Joy of Cooking at Kai level in the kitchen.  You know the moment this plan is locked in Kai’s head, tonight’s dinner will be another round of sad/angry or negotiation.

“Kai…” you whisper excitedly.  “Kai!”

“What is it, Mommy?”

“I have a…CHALLENGE…for you.”

“A CHALLENGE?!?!?  What challenge?  I love challenges!”

“Your dinner tonight?  Your dinner that you’re in charge of?  It has to be made…using only ingredients in this kitchen!”

“WOW!  That’s a big challenge!”  He heads to the kitchen to start scoping out the options.  Crisis averted.  You’re the best mom ever.  Gold star.  Pat on the back.

And then…”Mommy…my main ingredient will be…chocolate Easter eggs!”

Dang it.