#TBT My child and her first kill
I don’t usually do a post for #TBT (that’s Throw Back Thursday, for those of you who don’t se hable textspeak), but this one came to mind today and I can’t help but recollect it with equal parts nostalgia and horror.
Er… Actually, it was more like Milan. No, not the one in the vicinity of Sicily. The one that’s in Southeastern Michigan. And the year? I’m going to estimate about 1999. Other than that, yeah, picture it.
D1 was about three years old, and was the cutest thing since those wacky troll pencil-toppers who got an einsteen ‘doo whenever your twirled them. And like many little girls, she loved fluffy animals. We were poor student parents at that time, and couldn’t have pets in our student housing. So on those rare occasions that D1 got to play with an animal, she went nuts. Usually the animal question was a dog or a cat at the house of one of my family members. However, on this fateful day found us at a ranch outside of our hometown of Ann Arbor, MI. All around us, people led strapping, poofy sheeps by leashes, walking them like pets. And my three-year-old was all like…
So, at this point, I should probably mention the reason WHY so many people were walking around with sheep on a leash. You see, folks, it was Eid al-Adha. There’s only two major religious holidays in Islam, and this is one. On this holiday, every able Muslim family is meant to sacrifice an animal as part of a religious ceremony, and donate most of the meat to the poor. They’re allowed to keep a small portion for their own use, which is generally cooked that night fresh as part of big meal.
So, there we are, in line with our ewe, waiting to use the paddock where the sacrifices were being performed. And I look down and notice my daughter has her arms draped around this animal and had apparently named it Chester. She even kissed it. For those of you who’ve never been around a farm, let me tell you what dirty, stinky, unwashed livestock smells like: It smells like dirty, stinky, unwashed livestock. And my innocent three year old is overcoming that dirty, stinky, unwashed miamsa of dirty, stinky, unwashedness, and is IN LOVE with this creature we’re moments away from literally slaughtering. I tell my husband the following scene is imminent if we don’t do something soon:
But DH, who grew up in an Islamic country and witnessed many a cute, fluffy Chesters go to a dinner plate, assures me it’s better to just tell her the truth, reminding me as well that lying ( a sin) to our child about a religious requirement would be too ironic. Nevertheless, we agree that she shouldn’t watch the actual slaughter. As my husband is told it’s our turn in the paddock, I tell D2 to say goodbye to Chester and take her to the car, explaining to her in my best three-year-old how Chester wasn’t a pet, and telling her that the sausages, stews, and steaks we eat are because many Chesters have given their life to provide us sustenance. She asks if Chester is going to “sosis” (how she said sausage back then, and I tell her he will. She grows very somber, before utlimately, falling asleep.
Two hours later, we had taken our own portion of Chester chops to my parents house for a cook out. I told my daughter that if she didn’t want to, she didn’t have to eat any of the lamb I cooked. She agreed she didn’t want to. A few minutes later, I come out of the house to find my daughter in her booster seat, nibbling on suspicious little red cutlets. My husband, without being asked, insisted she asked for it, and it turned out, really, really had a thing for organs. I turn to my child, and forever more, all I can see in my head when I think back to this moment is this: