Kinder Souffle: How to prep your kids for Thanksgiving by Kathy Radigan
Thanksgiving is soon upon us and everyone I know is busy planning their menu for the big holiday dinner. Recipes for the perfect turkey, the perfect gravy, and the perfect pumpkin pie are being discussed at the market, the gym and online.
But nowhere have I seen a recipe for the one thing that can make all the difference between having a Thanksgiving that is joyous and fun rather than one that can cause more discomfort than an under-cooked turkey: The careful preparation of your children.
If your children are not prepared perfectly, it won’t matter if your turkey is roasted or deep fried or if your stuffing is made with cornbread or chestnuts. You won’t eat a forkful.
Below is my 3 step menu, complete with recipes, for having a perfect holiday dinner… or at least one that doesn’t end with you in the fetal position crying and sucking your thumb.
(or getting the little dears ready)
Prep time 1 to 2 hours
- Three children (preferably your own)
- A place to go to for Thanksgiving (This year we are going to my sister Sandi’s house)
- Dress clothes
- Extremely liberal amount of patience
- Prescription drugs (optional)
Just like your average souffle, Kinder Souffle needs to prepared very carefully. If this part of your Thanksgiving goes wrong, the whole day may be set off kilter.
Actual time to get ready: Varies by child, mood and what is on television
This recipe calls for ever gently starting to mention that it is time to get dressed to go to Aunt Sandi’s for dinner. It is important to start slowly and gently at first. If you can sing and dance it helps to get the little dears attentions. This is not mandatory, but it does help.
Lay out the dress clothes for the children. Argue with teenager on why it is not appropriate to wear a t-shirt and jeans.
*Note: If you feel like this is going to ruin the whole day, you may want to give in to the jeans and t-shirt, but that is really a matter of taste.
Once you have introduced children to clothes and have done all you can to get said clothes on children you are ready for the doing of the hair and finding and putting on shoes.
Take a deep breath. This may be a good time to avail yourself of the optional ingredient of prescription medication.
Congratulations, if you have done the steps above correctly you may now move on to the next course:
Roast Mommy with a side of wilted nerves
Prep time: Varies greatly but expect to be helping your children while everyone is enjoying their own meal.
*Note: Developing a taste for cold stuffing and sweet potatoes is extremely helpful.
Go slowly. Proceed with caution.
I would like to mention that this recipe is for use with my three children, Tom, 13, Lizzy 10 and Peter 7. You may have to adjust the ingredients in order to please your own family. Just like individual oven temperatures vary so does each child. This recipe is only a guide, always go with your best instincts.
When getting my children set up with their meal I have found It is best to start with Peter, our youngest child, first.
Peter likes order in all aspects of life. This need carries over to what his plate of food must look like. Pieces and portions must be precise. If they can be divided by three all the better.
Getting Lizzy ready can be a bit of a challenge. Our daughter is a lovely and rare treat but her special needs and difficulty in expressing herself can make this particular part of the recipe extremely challenging. Remember that when dealing with exotic ingredients you may have to to handle with special care.
*Note: If you are lucky enough to have a child as wonderful as our LIzzy remember you are the expert. Don’t let any other “cooks in the kitchen” otherwise known as well-meaning grandparents , aunts, uncles and friends tell you how to prepare this treasure. You know best.
I will also add that this part of the recipe can provide the most entertainment for me. I never know when Lizzy is going to burst out in a song about cranberry sauce being her best friend or blame me for ruining her life because I did not give her dessert first.
Helping Tom get set up has gotten much easier through the years and really does not require any special skill since he can get his own plate of food ready. His complete contempt for any vegetable or side dish has always speed up this process as well since he will only eat the turkey and maybe a roll. Maybe.
Once all of your ingredients are set up, feel free to make up your own plate of food.
Please keep in mind that your enjoyment of this meal is really dependent on your ability to get everyone else settled first.
We now move on to the third step::
Dessert and Coffee (otherwise known as the course I have yet to eat with my family)
I must stress that if the first two steps of this recipe do not go well you may not even get to this point in the evening.
*Note: If your children are very young or even babies, there is an extremely good chance that by the time you feed your baby and get your younger one settled everyone may be done with their dessert and coffee. Keep in mind that even if your infant or toddler routinely takes a nap at the same time you are planning to have your Thanksgiving meal, all bets are off during the holidays.
Once you finally get to sit down and enjoy whatever remains of your meal or dessert take a minute and breathe. Take it all in. This is the final step in my recipe.
This is the part that I’m going to really focus on this year. In the past I have gotten so stressed out trying to have the perfect Thanksgiving that I have not taken the time to really enjoy all that I have in my life. It is so easy for me to take not only the family my husband and I have created for granted, but also the family I was born into.
My sisters and I are now not only old enough to sit at the grown up table, we are the grown ups. We are no longer the children running around my grandparents house screaming and having fun with our cousins. The seven noisemakers belong to us!
This year I will do everything I can to ensure that my recipe for a lovely Thanksgiving is followed. Then I will sit back and enjoy the fact that the beauty in this day, and my life, is not the recipe I plan for but the one that I ultimately get.
Kathy Radigan is the creator of the family life blog, My Dishwasher’s Possessed! Her first love was acting and singing which she pursued until the desire to pay her rent became stronger. She left her job as an assistant in a Venture Capital firm when she and her husband had their first child in 1998 and has been enjoying and immersed in the raising of their three children ever since.
When Kathy and Joe’s youngest child started kindergarten in the fall of 2010 their children’s schools went paperless. Kathy begrudgingly got her first email address and became a full fledged mom blogger a few months later. Her site, My Dishwasher’s Possessed, posts a weekly essay that explores the funny, messy and hectic life of a family that includes two boys with learning issues, a daughter with significant special needs and a crazed appliance.