The struggle is real.

I’m talking about the kids menu, of course.

To order off it or not order off it, that is the question for many parents — and one that I, officially, no longer have to ponder. My youngest, my baby, has legally aged out. Good-bye, $5 pizza meals (with drink and cookie included).

Although, truth be told, that kid was pretty much done with the menu for junior-sized appetites around 2 years old. Even as a little dude he plowed through his plate like he was in training to be a competitive eater. One of his preschool teachers marveled at the full-size sandwiches he devoured while the other toddlers daintily picked at their applesauce cups.

Cue up the flashback machine to 2006: A friend who hadn’t seen No. 3 in awhile, commented on how big he was getting.

No. 3 patted his sumo-wrestler belly and replied, “I eat a lot of food.”

Yes, he did and still does, as I — the person who must grocery-shop at Costco — can attest.

Second breakfasts are his jam. In fact, he celebrates the Super Bowl every year by pulling out my biggest glass mixing bowl, pouring four different cereals into it and then dousing the whole thing with a quart of milk and eating every last spoonful. This must be why professional football players wear stretchy pants.

Over summer vacation we went out to a very chichi Italian restaurant in Seattle with friends. The place had no kid options whatsoever and while I opted for a half order of pasta as a cost- and waist-cutting measure, No. 3 ordered the filetto di manzo alla ombra della sera. Translation: $36 grilled beef.

This is what happens when both parents are distracted as the waiter makes the rounds. On the upside, he polished off every last bite. On the downside, you did see the entree cost $36, right?

No. 3 may not have routinely eaten off the kids’ menu, but I did make him order off it. For me. When I was feeling guilty or wasn’t particularly hungry, I’d have him order something like sliders — and I’d ask for the entree designed to feed at least two. Then, we’d switch after the food arrived.

And to think, he’s not even a teenager yet. Whew. We may need to take drastic measures to feed him, like buy a farm. Or a Costco.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. On Twitter: @kcookski. Minivans are the new mullet: all business up front, party in the back — as the trash and paper confetti strewn throughout the back of Cook’s vehicle show.