It could be said I am rooted in the old school way of thinking.
I believe (to a degree) that children should be seen and not heard (sort of). We have strict bedtime routine for the twins 6.30 pm and that routine is the key to harmony in our home. Children are a major part of our life, but my husband and I were here first ! Our view is : children fit into our life, not the other way around. We love them beyond words and listen to them when they talk. We have strong views on certain things but try not to consciously influence them. We want them to be their own people, they are after all three very different characters. So this evening when we sat down to a lovely tea of chicken wings, chicken pieces , wedges and salad it was I suppose a wake up call for me when the following happened.
Milo - "Jarvis, do you know that is a real chicken you are eating ?"
Jarvis - "yes, so "
Me " It is a real chicken darling, but this is what lots of people eat. We eat animals"
Milo - face reddens, hands go upto his face and hides his eyes
Me - "Are you ok darling ? You know if you don't want to, you don't have to eat the chicken".
Milo - "My eyes are leaking, I feel sad. I don't want to eat a living thing".
Me - "Its not alive now darling but I know what you mean. Do you not want to eat animals ?"
Milo - "No mummy I don't. It makes me feel sad to eat creatures. Do they know when they are being killed ?"
Me - " I'm not sure sweetie", (although I am sure they do, I have a vivid image still in my mind of when I was serving in the Falklands over 20 years ago and I spent my R & R with a family who were sheep farmers. To this day I can remember the sound of those sheep on the day they were herded into the pens to be put down, the panic amongst them as they tried not to be the next one taken).
Milo - "so do we eat humans ? "
Me - "No darling that would be so wrong, humans eat animals because they are part of our food. They don't have the same brains as us and don't think like we do. It would be wrong to eat other people. " (by this time we were all rapidly going off the lovely tea my husband had cooked us) and also getting into difficult territory with how much information is ok to give a six year old.
My husband commented after this conversation that Milo had told him in the garden today, not to cut the bush down as it would hurt the plant.
In the past I would have made light of someone whose child felt this way, but now, its my own child and it has made me totally rethink my own attitude to the depth of feeling that children have from an early age and how, I actually do believe that we are born with the personality and the traits that will form our whole adult life. I honestly believe Milo will grow up to be vegetarian, and be a kind compassionate man.
I feel totally humbled by my six year old son tonight, his understand and insight.