When Boys Cook the Turkey

A few days before Thanksgiving, there was a proclamation made at our house that the guys would be in charge of the turkey. So my husband and our twelve year old prepared it for brining.

“Get the liver and stuff out,” father said to son.

“Where are they?”

“Just reach into the hole at the end.”

“Wait, that’s his butt! I am not reaching into the turkey’s butt!”

We all looked up from whatever newspaper article, book or teacup we’d been focused on. Grandpop’s eyebrow arced in amusement.

“No really? It’s in his butt?!”

“Yep,” said my grinning husband.

“That’s disgusting!” But like any respectable twelve year old, he reached inside.

“Ewwww! I can’t believe I’m doing this!” giggling as he pulled out the neck. “What’s this?”

“His neck.”

“Oh my God, is this his heart?” he asked, triumphantly holding up a purplish blob.


“Ewwwww!” as he pulled out the kidneys, then liver.

“I can’t believe I just pulled them out of his butt!”

As my husband washed out the now hollow turkey, our son played with its innards – squishing them, poking at them, sliding them along the countertop. “What does its heart look like inside?”

“Cut it open and see.”

The readers and tea drinkers paused. More eyebrows raised.

“No,” said his grossed out grandmother.

Our ten year old showed up suddenly at his brother’s side, and he did it anyway. He dissected the heart. Then the kidneys, which were much harder to cut. “Not that interesting.”

Solid purple.

Then the slimy liver. Not much for a boy to celebrate there either. “But I can’t believe you made stick my hand in the turkey’s butt!”

Then the turkey was brining, and the guys left the kitchen, content with their work – red-purple turkey juices still oozing across the counter for respectable ladies to clean up.

And I wondered why, after 47 years of turkeys, it had never dawned on me to look inside their hearts.

Thanks to the Victor

Last weekend, our Family Fantasy Football League had its Super Bowl – its much-discussed trophy, the ability to choose a special dinner.  Had the dog won, we all vowed to eat bacon for a day. I was gunning for a nice restaurant, anything I did not have to plan or cook.

In the end, however, our 2013 Family Fantasy Super Bowl pitted Dad’s Rockin’ Red Peppers against our fifth grader’s Team Orion. A poor showing this season by the Atlanta Falcons meant the preseason favorite (Fire Spirits managed by our fourth grader and fountain of football knowledge) did not make the playoffs.

Rockin’ Red Peppers had chosen peanut butter eggs for his prize, so of course, he had the family cheering madly for Orion, who promised dinner at the Olive Garden, where the bread apparently “rocks” and Mom would not have to cook.

Peanut butter eggs were concocted by my husband when he gave up carbs. His theory was that if he liked scrambled eggs and a piece of toast with peanut butter, there was no reason not to nix the toast and melt the peanut butter into a warm plate of pale yellow protein. I have since given up scrambled eggs altogether.

So his victory by more than 30 points meant disaster for Mom and three boys who hate eggs.

The morning of his celebratory feast, our fifth grader walked through the house moping that “today is going to be terrible.”

At lunchtime, we loaded everyone in the car on our way to a restaurant Dad discovered that “actually has peanut butter eggs on the menu! Can you believe it?!” Our fourth grader Googled it, but only found an Easter recipe for chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs.

When we pulled into the parking lot of Dave & Busters, the fifth grader asked, “There are two restaurants here?”

When we sat down in the booth at Dave & Busters, they rapidly scanned the menus, “Can we get something else if we eat the peanut butter eggs too?”

Then they fell silent. The fourth grader smiled first.

The fifth grader looked at Dad confused. “They don’t have peanut butter eggs!” Then he smiled too. “And we get to play games?!”

The kindergartener jumped up and down in the booth.

Dad’s victory celebration – a feast of nachos, wings, macaroni and cheese and an hour of video games. No peanut butter eggs to be found.


He Said, She Said at Dinner

Dad, I get it.

All those meals with three daughters talking fast about who said what to whom, why so-and-so is feeling whatsy-what. How could she have done that, said that…?! She’s my best friend in the whole world… no, that was yesterday. Now I hate her!!!!

You couldn’t keep up. How could you possibly not know which Mary we were talking about?! How had you not registered that boy’s name yet? We’d been talking about him for at least a week!

Dad, I get it. And I am sorry.

More than twenty years have passed. I sit at the dinner table, quietly raging, then laughing, then raging a little again. My inner monologue is saying, “I spent an hour in the kitchen alone cooking this dinner, and all you people have to talk about while we eat is movie quotes, the entire scripts from goofy advertisements, the latest YouTube video of some talking dog, talking cow, talking infant who happens to be a whiz at eTrade?”

Can’t we talk?! Have a conversation?!

Every night, as my husband and three boys eat dinner, they quote things: movies, television shows, advertisements, songs, YouTube videos. They laugh, big belly laughs together. The nine-year-old can’t stay in his seat.

One recent night, they spoke more “Minion” words (from Despicable Me 2) than English.

And I sit there staring at them… trying to keep up. What was that from? Why is that funny? Really?!

Last night, they were repeating the lyrics from a YouTube song called Dumb Ways to Die. Really?!

This must be kid humor. But it’s not. My husband is grinning, joining in. It is boy humor. It is boy conversation.

My mom and sisters and I filled each other in on every detail of our day. That’s what I think dinner conversation is supposed to be. I am ready every evening to have nice a conversation with my family.

Then, “why don’t you try reading the rules, shankapotomus?” And the laughing begins.

I am determined to embrace the boy rules. Follow the conversation. But first, I owe my Dad an apology.

Wrestling with Dad

My three boys love to wrestle with their Dad, but they each have their own style.

The oldest laughs gleefully while getting playfully beaten up.

The skinny middle child, who hates to be tickled and has no fat to soften the pains of a good wrestling match, usually ends up crying.

The five year old fights the hardest, as if he believes he can beat a guy who weighs 130 pounds more than he does. In one recent wrestling match, clearly headed for another loss, he shouted:

“Nice try, small fry!”

Another Blog About Girls from a Mom of Boys

On Sunday, my fourth grade son had a playdate during which he planned to play Halo IV and toss a football around. The boys were all playing happily down in the basement while I cleaned up the kitchen.

Then suddenly, a Christmas tune traveled up the stairs. His friend was playing our piano. He has been taking lessons longer than my boys and enjoys practicing. And it shows. He was impressive.

I yelled downstairs that I thought he was amazing.

Then I heard my son say, “You are really good. The girls are going to love you!”

…And that is how you learn what your husband is telling them to get them to practice.

Eating Skittles

“Mom,” he said from the back seat of the minivan, while eating a bag of his favorite candy. “Skittles are my sons.”

“Your sons?” He is sometimes hard to understand, and I assumed that was the case this time.

“Yep. My sons,” and popped another one in his mouth. “If I don’t eat them, they die.”

“Your sons? Like you are my son?”

“Yep. Except if I don’t eat them, they die.”

“They only live if you do eat them? Your sons, the Skittles?”

“Yep. They have to live in my tummy.” And he popped the last one in his mouth.

“Mom, you can have the bag. I’m all done.”