Monday, February 8, 2010

The not ready

Recently, when 3 year old Ernie asked how little boys were made, I smiled. First, because the innocence of this question is grand.  Second, it happened while daddy was bathing him and I could enjoy my spectator safety from another room.  I was impressed when Andy evaded details of how boys and girls are "made".   And yet somehow,  he delivered a factual answer to a contented Ernie. 

Earlier in the evening,  after contemplating the freshly pounded and still raw hamburger patties:
Ernie:  How do hamburgers get made?
My failed attempt at artful dodge:  Daddy made them.  Don't you remember?
Ernie without skipping a beat, counters:  But where do the red parts come from?
Andy to the rescue:  They come from a factory, where big machines grind meat into little pieces.

(Factories with big machines are a standard and accurate answer to about 45% of the daily questions.)

I refused meat for more than half of my life or would make myself sick after eating it. While I feel OK about potential  body conversations, I dread the talk of meat.  When is a person ready for that? 

I want to  encourage this pure eagerness to know and to understand the world.  And the topic of meat is more menacing than death (related to old age or sickness).  What was and maybe is still scary for me is that there are people who butcher animals and make their blood come out and then we eat them.  My feelings and objections to being at the top of the food chain are irrational and I am intent on masking this particular hangup of mine for our boys.

I hesitated to indicate that birds eat worms and that spiders eat flies.  I suffer a heaviness over what will be a first roadkill sighting.  I have difficulty pulling my eyes from roadkill, as if I need to verify the species  or approximate cause of death...or maybe I fear that if I look away, I am pretending it didn't happen, dismissing it.  The  damage of having been raised by highly intellectual pretenders prohibits my looking the other way or offering a cool and detached explanation.
And why do I recall more clearly than anything else about Sarah Palin, the image of her, at the turkey farm smiling obliviously for the camera?   Directly behind her, a turkey was being stuffed face first into that funnel/saw headwhacker machine.
PS~I do eat meat and wear leather.  So, no judgment for meat eaters or animal skin wearers. 


  1. I know what you mean. I answer my kids factually and don't force them to eat meat, although I do cook it for them. The scary thing is that for the most part they shrug it off because mommy says it's what people do. My youngest doesn't like meat too much, though, and I'm fine with that.

  2. I have so many mixed emotions on meat. Did you ever read Animal Vegetable Miracle? I think it CAN be done in a respectful and kind way, but it’s awful hard to find people doing it that way.

  3. Factories with big machines could be the answer to about 90% of the questions in my house.

  4. honeypie~but what is the factual answer ...for children? i know the facts and still have no idea how to share them in a way that is not scary.

    ellylou~ yes, i did read the book and while living that way seems the opposite of luxury, i feel to be able to would be. hard work in deed and ideal, but....

  5. william~ isn't it terrific how uncomplicated boys are?

  6. ok elly, i think what you were saying is that there are people who do explain this carefully to children
    and that it is difficult to do. not that there are people who live as those in the book.

  7. Just the other night we were having pork chops and led to a conversation of pork chops come from pigs, stakes come from cows, etc. I don't know if my son fully processed that the animals get killed to get the meat.. just that it comes from a cow, etc.

  8. Hmmm I think I would struggle on this - I am vegetarian - have been for ages and I do struggle with meat but obviously if I have children I would want them to decide by themselves.

    Honestly I would prefer they chose not to eat it too....

    Kate xx

  9. I'm so trying the "factories with big machines" answer on my girls. Maybe since they're into dolls and babies they won't be able to relate and the answer will bore them into not asking again?

    I know, I know. Wishful thinking...

  10. I love the factories answer! Miles will go for that as soon as he talks I am sure! I'm a strange one about meat too. I do eat it if I don't think about the whole business - if I do - game over I can't do it!

  11. Oh how I have been there with the "meat" question.

    You can read about it here.

    I still havent told her that eggs(which she loves) are still unborn baby chicks...

  12. Definitely NOT a vegetarian here. Nor do I actively practice healthy eating, blah blah blah. BUT the talk of where meat comes from? Won't touch it with a 8-foot pole. I am in self denial too otherwise how do you prevent from throwing up? My MIL gave the kids this book when they were very young, supposedly it teaches "God made everything". Well, the book has a PIG explaining where hot dogs come from. Hello?!

    ugh. *shudder*


Your thoughts are welcome here. As long as they are kind. Or maybe just not unkind.