The Turkey Trot


“Is it mean to kill turkeys and eat them?” was the question posed to me by my seven year-old meat-eating son. I describe him as a “meat eater” because I am not. I’m really not against the act of killing animals for food, I just believe that eating animals today (because of the way they are bred, fed and chemically enhanced) will kill you. Now, before you get upset because you are an animal lover and believe we should treat all animals with respect or because you are a proud omnivore who believes you are on the top on the food chain and can eat whatever you please, stop and take a deep breath, I’m talking to a curious first grader with a valid question about food.

One of the most common food complaints from parents is that their kids don’t eat their vegetables. I never worried about Azul not eating his veggies because he always has, and that is because I always have, there was never an option not to. We eat a lot of vegetables, I cook them and we eat them. He loves broccoli (a.k.a. little trees) and beets because they make him pee and poop red. Beets are the best. I’m telling you, red poop is hilarious! 

He is very adamant that he is in fact a carnivore, and I’m okay with that because I do feed him meat. And I take as much care in my meat selections as I do with my vegetable choices. I always do giggle when he proclaims his manliness in being a meat eater, but then eats his veggies first, because we all know, real men eat veggies. There is nothing more emasculating than watching a man cower at the sight of lightly steamed cauliflower and gag as it goes down. Really!?!  

So, back to the original inquiry: Is it mean to kill turkeys and eat them? My answer, like many of my answers to my son was formed as a question and sent right back to him.

“It depends on how you feel about turkeys, I guess?” I know, deep. I exude nothing but parental confidence. “If you really like turkeys and feel strongly that you shouldn’t eat them, then it could be seen as mean to kill them. Or if you’re hungry and like turkey, then it wouldn’t be mean at all, it’s food and you treat it that way. So, what do you think?”

“I think if your best friend was a pig you wouldn’t want to eat him.” Was how he replied to my so-so answer.

“Probably not.” I said. We do read a lot of Mo Willems’ books and love the Piggie stories. With me trotting around a definitive answer, luckily our conversation moved on to a Thanksgiving song he learned at school that day called “Albuquerque Turkey.”

“Albuquerque has a turkey …”

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Teaching Kids Gratitude

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it’s important to talk to your kids about being thankful. Here are some child friendly ideas on teaching gratitude today and year-round.


The Kindness Card Project


There has been so much negativity floating around lately, it makes it hard not to be discouraged, but as a parent you can’t give up. Our (yes, OUR) children depend on us, they look to us for cues on behavior, they watch our actions and then learn from them. In this fog of pessimism, this is the perfect time to show some positivity, and with Thanksgiving and the Holidays right around the corner, offering thanks and gratitude can actually be fun for kids. It is also a much needed learning experience for adults caught up in the act of constant criticism.

This has been one of my favorite projects, it not only makes kids feel good, but it makes others feel good too. How can you go wrong with that!?!  It has many different names, Gratitude Card, Pay-it-forward Card, and others, but we call it a Kindness Card. No matter what you call it, the idea is basically the same. You unsolicitedly and anonymously do something nice for someone and then leave the card.


First, have your child make the cards they will be handing out. The cards can be on index cards, blank note cards or even a piece of paper cut into sixths. After preparing the cards, get the crayons and markers out and let their imagination go wild. Coloring and decorating is always a fun activity for kids and they get to learn and write out the words, “kindness” and “card.” Bonus vocabulary and spelling lesson!

Next, talk with your child about things they can do for someone else. It doesn’t have to be a present or anything that requires money, it can just be a thoughtful action.

Then, let them come up with a list of people they want to receive their Kindness Cards.

And last, follow through and give out the cards. You may want to make and distribute some Kindness Cards too.

My seven year-old, Azul, got to work on his right away. I could see his thought process from the expression on his face, intense but also content. He was determined to complete this project, and the anticipation of doing something nice for someone else seemed to make him happy as well. While he was working, I was told to, “look away,” immediately revealing that in my future I would receive a Kindness Card.

A few days later when he gave his creation of thankfulness to me, he took on the role of Fin Mc Missile from Cars; in a crouching position, he snuck around the kitchen counter, I saw a small hand come up, like the scope of a submarine coming out of the ocean water, the delivery of the card took place and then he immediately retreated to the living room. Although he was in stealth mode, I watched the entire process in my own undetected stealth behavior. I could actually hear the Mission Impossible theme playing in my head.

I of course announced my discovery, “Hey I just found a Kindness Card!” Azul glanced up from his seemingly innocent activity with a look of satisfaction and replied, “It’s from me!” I thanked him, told him I loved it, and gave him a big hug. His act of kindness in turn inspired my act of gratitude and we were both happy.


Sometimes kids have a hard time understanding anonymity, after all they do like getting recognized for their good behavior, we’ve taught them that, and that’s okay. If they want to give Grandma and Grandpa the card and say it’s from them, so be it. The lesson they take away from giving kindness is greater than that of keeping it to themselves!


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