I have two toddler boys, and I love them to death. I don’t love the fact that they still can’t sit through a meal without throwing food or screaming while strapped in their highchairs. My kids aren’t monsters – they are just under the age of 3. I know my limits. I’m not inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
While I am technically a new parent with young children, this isn’t my first rodeo. When I think about planning an elaborate holiday meal for what truly is my favorite time of year, all I can think about is one vivid memory of taking my two sons to a restaurant on family vacation last year.
The scene was typical. We waited to be seated, then crowded around a long table with extended family and put our two toddlers in highchairs. In under 10 minutes, the toddlers were trying to stand up, jump overboard and run through the restaurant. My husband and I each took a kid and focused all of our attention on him.
While this was a brilliant strategy to get them to shut up and stop embarrassing us, it meant we didn’t get one hot bite of food. We didn’t get one drink of an adult beverage without a kid trying to stick a dirty hand in the beer glass.
A few weeks later, my sister complimented our family on how well-behaved the kids were when we went out to eat. To that I said, “Ha, ha, ha, you have no idea what you’re talking about.” We were the proverbial ducks in the pond — calm on the surface and swimming furiously underneath.
That is not happening this Thanksgiving. Gorging myself on delicious carby food is something I look forward to all year long. I don’t want to spend the meal letting my deep-fried turkey get cold while I bounce a toddler on my knee or cut up his food and beg him to eat it. Like I said, my kids aren’t crazy monsters. They just haven’t mastered the art of multicourse dining yet.
The good thing about my toddlers is that they have a rock-solid nap time from noon to 3 p.m. every day, no exceptions. While I do look forward to making Norman Rockwell memories with my family as my husband carves a glistening turkey at the head of the table, it’s not happening this year.
The kids will nap. I will eat and drink. I’ll wake them up when it’s time for a turkey sandwich.