I am not a vegetarian. This is not some conscious, political choice; more like a default setting. If I actually stop to think about it I feel that if I really want a burger, I should probably go hunt it down myself. But then my daughter melts down because she can’t find the sunglasses she sleeps and my time to actually stop and think about things vanishes. Plus I’m not sure if there is a cow hunting season to speak of. Or where it falls in relation to cow tipping season.
The point is, I am like most Americans, I think; for better or worse going day-to-day, getting my meat from the store and trying desperately not to think about where it came from or what it really is.
But my kids keep reminding me. They love animals. Oooh, look, a duck. A cow. A turkey. And of course they have all kinds of stuffed animals and books filled with cute little anthropomorphic friends. It’s hard not to believe the children’s toy and literature industries are just a front for PETA. Where’s the Fisher Price My First Slaughter House?
We parents are set up from the beginning for the hard questions.
Which have started coming. As I often do, I blame the Berenstain Bears.
I can’t put my finger on exactly why I hate them so much, but I think it’s related to “Ma’s” house dress and bonnet.
In one of their horrendous books we have from the library it talks about the bear family going fishing. Thankfully, it didn’t then dive into a graphic description of how bears really catch fish.
But it did show them holding a fishing rod with a giant fish on the hook.
TB pointed to the fish, “What face is he making?”
TB asks this question a lot while we’re reading. I assume it’s shorthand for how is that person/anthropomorphic thing feeling?
“Um, I think he’s making a surprised face,” I say. “Like, hey, how’d I get here?” That seems to settle it. But the whole face-orientedness of the question left me feeling a bit disturbed.
Then the other day I was making him a turkey sandwich. Pre-packaged turkey from Hillshire Farms. I’ve been eating this stuff so long I honestly don’t even associate it with an animal. And when TB had seen a wild turkey in our neighborhood earlier in the day (because apparently that is normal in western PA…like seeing Britney Spears’ ass crack in Calabasas) he said, “Hey, that turkey is making turkey.” So I thought we were kind of on the same page: complete denial.
But then as I was making him his sandwich his gears started turning.
“Turkey…sounds like…turkey. Hey! Is this the same turkey as the animal?”
“Where’s its face?”
How do you even start to answer that question? Where is the face of the turkey in Hillshire Farms Deli Select Ultra Thin Oven Roasted Turkey Breast?
That’s not an answer a kid is ready for. That’s not an answer I’m ready for. It’d be one thing if we hunted our own food and processed it ourselves. But when is a kid ready to learn that this
I know they’re both going to need to know about the circle of life and all that, but I’m just not ready to tell them. I feel like it’s going to break their hearts. We’ve spent their whole lives teaching them that animals are their friends. Their stuffed animals, their books, the zoo.
It’s like we set every kid up to have a Soylent Green moment. We get them hooked on chicken nuggets and then….