Usually her little animals are buddies, sharing in adventures that traverse the mountains (living room couch), hiding in the labyrinth of caves (underneath the kitchen table) or swimming in the ocean (bathtub). But lately there's been quite a few altercations between the animals. Namely between the dinosaurs and the horses. As in the horse will be laying prostrate and the dinosaur will be hovering above it. Then the dinosaur bends down to the horse and Rhiannon makes munching noises.
|Munch, munch, munch.....burp! Excuse me!|
So now I've been thinking about the meat-eating thing and how I'm going to approach the whole life-death-eating cycle here on the farm. Rhiannon loves chicken. And Rhiannon loves chickens. She knows the word chicken can mean either her feathery friends outside or the delicious meal on the supper plate. But when will she realize that they are one in the same? And when will she realize that the animal had to die to fill her tummy? And when that realization is finally made, will she shun that food?
Then there's the whole can o' worms regarding the meaning of "death". She's seen a dead rooster and knows that it no longer moves or clucks, but just sits there (with it's head missing). She even said the word "dead" when she saw another deceased animal shortly afterwards.
I know that most "civilized" parent's don't have this discussion with their children. They are so conditioned to seeing their dinner come from a drive-through window or the ingredients neatly laid out on a styrofoam tray and wrapped in plastic that the idea that their supper once lived and breathed never occurred to them. Exactly when does an inner-city or urban child find out that the burger in their HappyMeal was once a cow? Acutally, I don't even remember at what age I realized meat meant the death of an animal. Did I figure it out on my own? Was I taught it in grade school? Did my parents tell me? Or since I was suburban-raised, did I even care about the fate of a chicken, cow or pig?
I'm not going to hide from Rhiannon where our meals come from; I want my daughter to truly appreciate her food. But I'm not sure when, or how, I'm going to teach her about those not-so-nice facts of life and death. Do we make her watch when we're butchering an animal? Technically I think she was at the last chicken processing, but was more interested in the jug of bubbles a friend brought her. Is she too young to see these things? Or if we keep involving her by letting her hang around will she just figure "Oh, that's just how it's done" and be over it? Or will she scream and cry the next time Mommy makes chicken and dumplings and become a vegetarian? Ah, the challenges of parenthood!
Maybe I could get David Attenborough to come here and do a voice-over during our next chicken butchering session.