Not a wee dilemma; rather, a wee omnivore. With gratitude—and apologies—to Michael Pollan*…
Early last fall, The Kidling became keenly aware of the fact that her meat is derived from (previously) living creatures. The Family is technically omnivorous, but we are functionally closer to herbivores. The Mama does the cooking, and I love vegetables and can really take or leave a hunk of meat. That said, I do prepare it at least once a week, so The Kidling’s new insight made for an interesting few months at the dinner table. In spite of The Kidling’s voracious appetite, she is a rotten little booger at the dinner table. Not, mind you, the breakfast, lunch, or snack table. Go figure. Dinner time is a textbook power struggle. She does everything but eat. Her typical dinner routine is:
- Happily fulfill dinnertime chore of putting napkins on the table;
- Sit down;
- Yell, “I have to go potty” and run toward the toilet;
- Return to the kitchen 5 minutes later with pants down, saying “I haven’t washed my hands yet, but I want to tell you [insert random story here]”;
- With pants still down, microstep back to the toilet to wash hands;
- Run back to the table;
- Play with her food;
- Sing some more;
- Take one bite;
- Repeat Steps 7-12 two dozen times.
Dinner is exhausting, to say the least. It should come as no surprise, then, that the evening The Kidling realized she was complicit in the death of an innocent creature began thusly:
The Mama: Eat your turkey, Sweetie.
The Kidling: What? This is turkey? What’s that?
The Mama: Like the bird. Turkey.
The Kidling: I bet he isn’t happy about that.
The Mama: No, I don’t think he is, dear.
The Kidling: Did you hunt it?
The Mama: No.
The Kidling: Why?
The Mama: Well, everyone does what they do best. It is most efficient that way. A farmer raised it.
The Kidling: Did they cut his head off?
The Mama: Yes.
The Kidling: Oh. (extended silence)
The Dada: So, I’m doing a load of laundry! Lights! (The Mama and The Dada engage in a spirited discussion of the laundry. Blankets! Towels! It worked. Conversation officially changed.)
Versions of this exchange took place every time meat dared appear on the table. The Kidling’s comments ranged from, “What animal is this” to the sad-voiced “What animal are we going to eat tonight” to the ubiquitous “(audible sigh) I bet he isn’t very happy about that” to the horrifying and hilarious evening on which we had steak: “I feel bad about that. (very long pause) But it is yummy.” I should add that we respect The Kidling’s autonomy, and never make her eat anything she doesn’t want to consume. Except broccoli.
*Whilst adding this hyperlink, I discovered that none other than the amazing Maira Kalman has recently illustrated Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. I am head over heels for Maira Kalman’s work, and own her charmingly illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. I should add that, in my fantasy world, Ms. Kalman illustrates the real book version of kidlingville. I even tweeted about it once. The Mama can dream, no?