Al wanted a night off from cleaning the kitchen, so tonight we had dinner at King of Pizza in New Jersey. We left at 6:45pm, knowing that (a) Austen would probably not get to bed until after 8pm, and (b) that the clocks roll forward tonight, so 8pm really meant 9pm. As I buckled Austen into the car seat, I told him where we were going, as always. "We're going to eat pizza!" I said.
When we arrived at King of Pizza, Al whipped out the individual container of cottage cheese and the turkey slices he'd brought for Austen. I usually don't bother bringing food for Austen unless I know there's nothing on the menu that he'd like (a rarity), though I do usually have a fruit bar or some raisins in my purse in case of emergency. Having some Austen-friendly food on hand is never a bad idea, however, so I didn't think it odd that Al had brought some. Austen took a spoonful of cottage cheese and promptly spit it out, I assumed because he was expecting yogurt (the containers look the same). But when he rejected the turkey, the blueberry fruit bar (he *never* rejects fruit bars), and the cerignola olive (his favorite!) we offered him, we started to worry a bit. Then he started to cry.
Al and I immediately went into, "tell us what you want, sweetie" mode, trying to be both rational and calming. The snarky sideways look Austen gave me when I said, "how do we ask for what we want?" (the proper answer is to sign "please") totally made us bust out laughing even though we know we're not supposed to do that. Good parents remain stoic and firm in the face of inappropriate but hilarious behavior, but only Al was able to pull the poker face on command.
The crying continued until the waitress came over and offered him some Italian Wedding soup with pastini in it. "I don't know if he's crying because he's hungry, but I thought I'd bring him a little soup," she said. He stopped crying long enough to try to charm the waitress, but as soon as she left he clamped his lips shut and refused the soup. When he noticed that soup was all we had to offer, he started to wail again. The waitress returned and asked if she could bring him a taffy, which caused us to stare at her blankly. "You know, a lollipop," she said. We shrugged and said OK.
Austen's never had a lollipop before, so when the waitress brought him two DumDums, he promptly tried to stick them in his sippy cup (which he'd been playing with in between—and during—screaming fits). I caught them before the candy heads slid into the water and set them aside. We tried again with the soup, but nothing doing.
A few minutes later the red clam pizza arrived, and Austen suddenly calmed. He opened his mouth willingly when I held out a forkfull of pizza (though it was a bit too hot, and his eyes watered as he swallowed; he took subsequent pieces in his hand so he could test their temperature first). He ate slowly but happily, to our amazement, and didn't fuss again until, at 7:45pm, we tried to pack up the four slices we couldn't finish. He gave an anguished squeal as Al slid the pizza into the box and closed the lid. "I think he wants more pizza," I said to Al. Austen nodded vigorously in agreement. "What do you want to do?" I asked Al. Al voted that we just head home, since it was late and it was already likely that we were going to have to skip bathtime. I told Austen we'd feed him some more pizza in the car.
I ended up feeding Austen another half slice of clam pizza (which was studded with garlic, I might add) in the car on the way home. He conked out with a piece in his hand, and bathtime was indeed skipped, though I did wipe the tomato sauce off his face. I remarked to Al after Austen was safely down in his crib that it's easy to forget that Austen understands a huge amount of what we say, since he doesn't say much himself. He'd obviously understood me when I'd said we were going out for pizza, and he'd cried because he thought we were renegging on the offer. He'd been promised pizza, dammit, and he wasn't going to settle for cottage cheese, turkey, fruit bars, olives, lollipops, or soup.