When last you heard from me I was fretting about Halloween. As I mentioned then, I normally prefer to ignore Halloween and just wait for it to all go away. But I now have two small bairns – ages six and three – and they don’t like it when I ignore anything. Like hypocrisy, for example.
And just so you can understand what I’m contending with, my three-year-old has taken to standing in the meat section of the supermarket and declaring loudly things like, ‘That’s a dead body! That’s a dead body, too! Meat is just dead bodies, cut up! Poor an-mals. Why did they have to die? You shouldn’t kill an-mals! I don’t eat dead bodies.’
Which is powerful stuff, coming from a little girl, in her tiny dress and leggings and shoes with flowers painted on them. People sort of grimmace at her uncomfortably, then grow unnerved and disappear – ostensibly to come back when she’s not there.
I’m not joking. I don’t care who you are, there’s something other-worldy about having your conscience called-out by a three-year-old. It’s easy to dismiss the moment at a distance – we’ve all ignored the admonishments of adult vegetarians at some point in our lives – but three-year-olds are a different kettle of fish.
I have found that disappointing a small child is a unique and troubling experience, especially when it happens in an ambush-type-scenario while you’re going about your business. There you are, looking for the aisle with the boullion, and then there’s a small child reminding you that humans are packaging dead bodies. It suddenly it doesn’t seem reasonable anymore. But what can you do? It’s not very “grown-up” to discuss the cognitive dissonance, especially in the meat aisle of a supermarket. People look askance at that. It’s unbecoming behavior and almost universally frowned upon. Moreover, it makes one look like a bit of a spoilsport.
Now, I’m not a vegetarian, unlike my daughters – I’ll eat fish, chiefly because I don’t like them on a personal level, just as I do not enjoy the company of geese, though that is a story for another time. But I am not in the Oh Aren’t Children Precious But They Really Should Just, Like, Get Over The Brutality And Stuff Their Faces With Dead Bodies Like The Rest Of Us* camp, either.
Let me interrupt myself and point out that I don’t eat geese and never have, but there is one goose at the park who makes me shake my fist when I see it, but no … that really is a story for another time, because right now I am trying to say that my daughter seems to have a much more lucid apprehension of reality than, well, almost the entire population of humanity that is older than three.
I’ve been dealing with adults for a while now, you see – now I think of it, all my friends are adults – all of which qualifies me, I think, to say that most adults are complete rubbish at thinking about any subject that doesn’t fall firmly within their perview. Which is why we get all befuddled by children when they scold us in the meat section of our supermarkets.
Did I mention that our family practically lives in our kitchen, where I’ve been making a tremendous amount of sushi lately? And I’m getting good at it too, by the way, while my daughters watch on with a certain disapprobation. Last night I was rolling makimono and feeling otherwise good about myself when I noticed daughter chattering to herself in this way: “I’m a little fishy swimming in the pond – oh no! Now I’m on a boat! What’s happening? Ouch, my head is chopped-off. Oh well, now I’m going to have to be eaten. By daddy! ARRRRGGGH’
La, la, La, I thought to myself, determinedly. La, la, la.
“Kris,” she said, abruptly (she likes to address me by my first name whenever she senses that I’m wrong about anything). “Why are you cutting up dead bodies?”
“Hypocrisy,” I told her, now slicing up salmon with a wet knife. “What is hypocrisy, you ask? Tell you what, why don’t you ask your mum’s dad about it when you see him next week at Thanksgiving? He knows more about it than I.”
He’s a protestant minister or parson of some sort. I like to unload tasks on the man from time to time, seeing how he – somewhat suspiciously – chose a profession that only works on Sundays.
“Oh, and ask him to clarify the phrase thou shalt not kill when he’s eating turkey. He’ll enjoy that.”
“He shouldn’t eat turkey,” declared my daughter hotly.
And you shouldn’t draw on the couch with felt pens but here we are.
Oh and by the way – Halloween was good. Autumnal leaves drifted down, kids ran amok. My children gathered all their confectionary for the sole purpose of giving it to a friend who was at home sick and couldn’t be there. But I think all their candy got eaten by my friends instead.
You see what I mean? The world is a harsh place.