When is it appropriate to begin introducing the circle of life to a kid? We watch a whole lot of educational videos and apps around here. As you would imagine, animals feature prominently in a lot of them. Old MacDonald, Mary’s Little Lamb, Hey Diddle Diddle, even Umizoomi and Bubble Guppies have talked about animals. And when I say animals I mean that of the food variety. Cows are wonderful. So is milk1. So is a cheeseburger. Pigs are magnificent, as is bacon, although we eat mostly turkey bacon around here. Probably what makes me wonder the most is chicken. She adores chicken. The sight of a live chicken or rooster is enough to incite inspired “bawking” and crowing. Nuggets are also cause for tremendous excitement, but in a different way. And as her daddy would say, Stella eats enough eggs to feed Caesar’s army. Eggs are also where the “so sweet” baby chicks come from.
You can’t get away from this stuff. It is just one of those facts of life that have to be dealt with in some way, shape, or form. Just the other day I turned on BBC where they were showing “Planet Earth.” We were winding down for bed and I needed something interesting but not too interesting on the TV for distraction. I had seen this series ages ago and don’t remember it being too tooth and fang, so I figured it was safe. The segment that was on showed cicadas emerging from the ground – thousands of them. I find cicadas gross for some reason, but Stella adores bugs. I thought we had a gold mine. She was riveted and began narrating about the neat bugs, all the bugs, and wings! Then the predators came. The frogs. The birds. The lizards. The snakes. It was the food chain, yo. Everyone started eating these damn bugs. I scrambled for the remote and we watched a Seinfeld rerun instead.
Maybe I’m going to struggle with this one more than most parents. I was a vegetarian for about 10 years back in what I refer to as my “youthful idealist phase,” and I still have a really hard time with pain and suffering by animals. And kids, but that’s obvious. I honestly have to pretend that my ground sirloin comes from the ground sirloin tree when I go food shopping. I know that’s stupid but that’s my coping mechanism. In a perfect world I’d buy everything totally free-range from a local farmer, feeling at least confident that the animals lived well before they ended up in a freezer somewhere. But it’s expensive enough to feed a family of 4 buying regular stuff.
Anyway, I think this discussion is coming quickly. I can occasionally see Stella pause when chicken goes to the party in her tummy while simultaneously running around the TV screen in a Baby Einstein video. Any tips, veteran parents?
1 I’m still really waiting for the shoe to drop with respect to “mommy’s milking machine.” She’s gradually paying more and more attention when I pump and talk about milk for Felix. The gears are turning. That ought to be an entertaining discussion when it occurs.