I've been thinking more about our predicament with Elvis, and the thing is, even if we gave him his way and let him not eat dinner, the child would still be one of the crankiest little saps on the planet. He is thoroughly crabby. I am rather certain that the glass will always be half-empty for this little boy. So how does one train the pessimism out of a person?
The only solution I have, at least presently, is to pray hard that the Holy Spirit would settle in his heart and help him to have joy and contentment. Forcing him to sit at the table and clean his plate every single night, crying, is unlikely to convince him that all kinds of food are good to eat. Forcing him to take one bite of his food, to at least try it, is a reasonable enough request, and if at that point the child still insists on not eating, then so be it. No dinner. There are plenty of children around the world who do not eat three meals a day and have grown to be healthy human beings. If he changes his mind, then I'll warm up the dish and he can eat.
I can't remember if I've said this already, but I do not want to get into the habit of making Elvis a special, separate dinner, and that isn't going to happen. Granted, if I know that what I've made is an "experimental" dish, I'll make something that I know they will eat, or I'll prepare a variation of the dish that leaves out whatever it is I can bet isn't going to be palletable for preschoolers. But making mac and cheese or hot dogs or PBJ for dinner in addition to whatever I've prepared for the rest of the family isn't going to help matters much either. He already gets all of the potential nutrients from these dishes at lunch time.
I do not think it is unreasonable to expect my kids to try the food that we've prepared for them. It might be going too far to ask them to clean their plates when it is clear they don't like what I've dished out. So as long as they are fine with not eating anything for dinner, then I'm fine with them not eating. After they've tried their food.
I would like to be done with the hour-long crying at the table over whether to even try a bite, though. Someday the rationale behind this will set in for my son. At least I can hope.