I'm not sure if Auntie T has enlisted Nathan in her Master's project, or if perhaps Auntie C has taken him to one too many hippie organic corner markets; where, by the way, M has determined that they carry a lot of snack foods for the hippie munchies....Hmmm....I digress....anyway, there's a new running conversation around here and I thought I would share.
Most meals these days are met with lots of questions as to the origins of the food on my boy's plate. This seems to have started when Nathan recently asked to have a ham and cheese sandwich to take to school for lunch. I avoided the Jewish take on that question, mostly 'cause I don't know the answer for sure and lord knows there is a premium on correctness 'round these parts; otherwise there will be twice the questions and twice my own confusion when the truth is uncovered. Anyway, I went the vegetarian route; "you may not have ham at school because at school we follow a vegetarian diet". I could only hope to go on about my business of the morning, but, nope, naturally, I was met with, "what means vegetarian?" (in a 4 year old's pronunciation which I cannot begin duplicate.) I was only two sips into my coffee and I knew where this was going and the panic (my own) was setting in. He is a sensitive soul and a thorough thinker. We don't do Disney, skipping a scene or two here and there doesn't cut it for this kid. We are reading Charlotte's Web as an exercise for me to get more comfortable with the whole death thing with him. I feel queasy just thinking about it and am inclined to become a vegetarian myself after all of this.
I try to circle the question, "being vegetarian means not eating meat", we don't really use that term, instead choosing more specific labels for our animal intake, so naturally the next logical question, "what means meat?" I take a deep breath, "meat refers to animals like chicken, fish, and cows." I am impressed with my own resourcefulness and quickly retrieve the puzzle Grandma brought from France that clearly shows the food chain in perfectly natural form, albeit much lower on the food chain, nonetheless the point is made. "Why don't they (vegetarians) eat animals?" "Because vegetarians don't think it is nice to have animals for food." I am terrified to use the word kill and clearly I have been successful in avoiding it. This conversation continued as I tried to overcompensate around the whole issue. We discussed the business of a farm and the animals there, not soon enough I decided it was time to shut my trap. Nathan proceeded with eating his breakfast giving the matter a little more thought, eventually: "Mommy, don't they miss them when they dead them?"
ps lately as he contemplates his meals, he asks, "what did this used to be?" As in, what animal was my cereal, pasta, bread; basically anything he's not sure of, he wants clarified. He has even let S know that it's not nice to eat plants either, they are, after all living things too ya know. Also, if you are interested, Nathan thinks it would be very nice to have a pet cow so he could have milk whenever he wanted. Never mind the conversation about where and how the cow gets milk, my head had exploded by that point.