Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Little City Mouse

This past weekend we went to Chip’s cousin’s wedding in rural Kentucky. The bride and groom both have farming backgrounds and plan to work outdoors, I believe as park rangers or something similar. I appreciate their drive and am glad they have found a profession that so incorporates their passions. However, I could not be less like them if I tried. It is safe to say that we are coming from two different perspectives.

Before the wedding, a slide show played with pictures of the couple. The first half of the show had pictures of the bride and groom as children, before they met each other. It concluded with tons of pictures of the two of them together. Because they are outdoorsy, many of the pictures showed them dressed in camouflage, brandishing rifles, or posed next to an animal they had successfully hunted. Now, I live in the south, so this didn’t come as a shock to me or anything. However, I soon realized that I had not come prepared.

“Mom- they have GUNS!”

As Connor whispered this in my ear, my brain started spinning. I whispered a quick “We’ll talk about it later,” hoping to give myself time to come up with an appropriate response. I generally like to be pretty straight with him, but there were two things complicating the issue. For one, Connor is from Memphis. He equates guns with criminals- he doesn’t know that normal, law-abiding people just have them. At this point he was probably expecting cousin Joshua to come steal our TV! Connor sees the world in black and white- I needed an explanation that wouldn’t venture too far into the gray. Otherwise I would be answering questions about good guys and bad guys and guns for the next several years of my life.

Making this even harder for me is the fact that Connor has not yet consciously made the connection between the food we eat and the animals it comes from. I haven’t hidden the fact that chicken nuggets (ostensibly) come from chickens, but I haven’t really spelled it out either. He is pretty sensitive about anything having to do with death, so I’ve just let that one ride. I think you have to understand that to some extent before you can wrap your head around the concept of killing animals for sport. So I was definitely a little lost on how to quickly and casually explain all this.

After the ceremony, I told Chip what Connor had taken away from the experience. “Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan!” I assured him. When we got in the car to head to the reception, I said something about how they had those guns because they work out in the woods and have to protect themselves from some animals, like the bison we had seen in one of the pictures. Then I sat back and waited to see what he would do that explanation. I didn’t have much to back it up, so I was hoping this would do.

“But not DEER!” he said.

“Uh, no- those were just pictures of regular deer.”

(pause) “Okay.”

Whew. Looks like I bought myself some time before having to surrender a full explanation. Once I do, I imagine Connor will turn into either the pickiest vegetarian ever or a world-class chicken hunter. And I’m not ready to deal with either.

Ed Note: Not 90 minutes after we posted this, Connor observed Chip and Chloe eating chicken wings and legs. "But how do you know it's a leg? A real chicken leg?!?!? How do they get the leg? Do they have to kill it? A real chicken?" I let Chip field these questions, which involved things like, ". . .make it so they aren't living anymore. . .cows and pigs too. . .Mimi and Bwana only eat fish. . . you can get the milk without anything dying. . ." and laughed my ass off. Connor took in the information quietly, then went on with his meal. I can't wait to see if he goes into denial, or asks about it the next meal too. Explaining where the nugget comes from is going to be tough.

4 comments:

Dee said...

Drew is the same way about animals. He can't stand the thought of hunting or even one animal eating another in the wild. It just breaks his heart.

Megan on the other hand couldn't care less. On the way to Hot Springs we passed an 18 wheeler full of hundreds of live chickens. On the way home, we passed an 18 wheeler with "Tyson" written on the side, along with pics of cooked chicken. Megan said, "Well, there are the chickens we saw. Someone will be eating them for dinner!" We laughed hysterically. Drew didn't think it was funny at all.

Roy Chockley said...

This has got to be the funniest post ever.

I’m reminded of the legend of the Buddha, how his father shielded him from seeing human suffering to keep him from pursuing a philosophical quest...that boy is a philosopher...

Stacey Greenberg said...

satchel has a hard time remembering the word "cow" he simply refers to all cattle as steak.

RJA said...

Tell him those deer were working the wrong corner.