Thursday, July 23, 2009
After a certain car ride with Katie this week, I began to wonder why we glamorize farm animals to our small children. From children's songs like Old McDonald (which in Katie's version also includes french fries..e-i-e-i-ooo) to toys like the See 'N Say (this is a cow..Moooooo). We teach our kids early on what all the animals say and if they're lucky they may even have a farm animal book or two. The very lucky may even get to visit farm animals at a petting zoo or 4-H fair (which incidentally, we may be going to this weekend - the above pics are from our visit there in 2007).
Katie has always loved animals. She has been very delayed in speech, but could say every single animal sound very early. She is thrilled to see them at the zoo and gets so excited when we pass a farm. Incidentally, she also LOVES meat...of all kinds. It kind of makes conversations like this a little awkward:
On our way to speech lessons, we happen to pass a butcher shop. For some reason, next to the butcher shop there is a large pasture which usually contains goats and sheep. Recently there have been loads of baby goats and they've been so adorable! Katie loves to point them out to me when we go by. On our way to speech this past Monday the pasture was completely empty and I pondered out loud..."that's weird, I wonder where all the animals are"...I mean, really, they don't butcher the goats and sheep, do they?!?!? Although somewhat unrelated, I thought explaining what the butcher does might make a good "lesson" for Katie. Honestly, I really don't know what I was thinking.
Me: I'm not sure why the goats are all gone Katie. But you know, that is a butcher shop. The butcher cuts up some animals like pigs and cows so that we can buy them and eat them (or something else equally scary and inappropriate to tell a 4-year-old).
Katie: (horrified) But mommy, why they cut up the animals?
Me: Oh honey, the animals aren't alive anymore - it doesn't hurt them (praying that I don't have to go into "that" conversation, too...why did I open up this can of worms?!?) Sweetheart, people eat some animals.
Katie: Not horsies.
Me: No, not horsies (this is just an introductory conversation, after all). We do eat pigs and cows and chicken though.
Katie: (as if I'm the dumbest person in the world) MOM, people do NOT eat animals.
Me: (annoyed now that she thinks she's smarter than me) Honey, the sausage and ham you eat comes from a pig and hamburgers and meat balls are parts of cows.
Katie: No, mom, it's not.
Me: Well, where do you think it comes from?
Katie: The refrigerator.
Me: (realizing I should have never started this conversation). Oh ok. Well you are right about that. You do eat chickens, though.
Katie: Ohhh, oh yeah.
Me: You know we also eat fish and crabs and lobsters. Some people even eat frogs and turtles.
Katie: Not me, I don't eat fish.
And then we seguewayed into where we get milk from and whether horsies drink milk. Luckily for the meat industry, I'm not too worried that she'll become a vegetarian anytime soon because she doesn't eat vegetables either.