Ew. Ew. Ewwww!!

Today’s preschool field trip (yes, they do those, who knew?) proved enlightening on a very interesting front.

First let me diverge by saying I’m pretty carnivorous. Yep. Loooove meat. I’m not ashamed of it in the least. While many of my friends are vegetarian – I’m the gal that thinks that vegetables are what food eats. Oh, alright, I’ll eat broccoli and a host of other veggies too, but if the choice is between animal protein and plants? I’ll take mine medium-rare, thanks. I have no issue with the fact that something on my plate may have once wandered around on two or four feet – the only issue in that vein I’ve ever had is leaving the fish-head on – I want to eat my dead animal, not have a staring contest with it.

Meanwhile, my darling Buttercup is pretty much a self-imposed vegetarian. The closest she comes to eating meat is the chicken soup broth that surrounds the noodles at Sweet Tomatoes. If it weren’t for Boca Burgers, edamame and dairy, I don’t know how we’d get protein into that child.

So now that I’ve thrown in a seemingly irrelevant tangent, let me get back to the gist, shall I?

Today’s field-trip to the Wildlife Center was interesting. We carpooled with Buttercup’s best friend (ooh, she needs a name… hm… let’s call her Blondie – because that kiddo is a serious towhead and I can remember it) and her Mom. We arrived at the center to a handful of preschool classmates and their assorted adult-escorts (parents, grandparents, what-have-you) bipping about playing with the “hands-on exhibits.”

One of which was a coyote skin. Well, I guess you’d call it a pelt, since there wasn’t any coyote in it… just the fur, the preserved head, paws, and tail. But it was draped over a 4 year old crawling on the ground pretending to stalk another 4 year old… Buttercup’s first reaction was not unlike mine. Ew. Why is she wearing that?

It got better of course when the grandmother of said pelt-covered-child grabbed the unstuffed-but-preserved carcass of a skunk and threw it on the floor for coyote-girl to pounce on with an encouraging “get it! Kill that skunk!

There was an entire basket of pelts and other dead furry bits for the kids to play with. That should’ve been my first clue as to what we were in for, but I must be more of an optimist than I realize.

Shortly after we arrived, the aging-goth-chick nature-guide-lady (let’s call her Nature-chick for short) circled the kids on the floor in the other room and told us parents to make ourselves comfortable in the chairs behind them. I’ll spare you most of the details, but the next 30-40 minutes was a lecture involving hand-puppets such as deer, owl, coyote, beaver and prairie dogs, that would then be compared to their preserved skulls and bits and pieces of the dead things – a deer’s antler, coyote skin, etc. brought out for the children to see and ostensibly touch.

It was like a parade of bizarre taxidermy. I wasn’t exactly expecting a disembodied owl’s wing, a detached beaver tail, or a preserved owl’s claw, talons spread. I’m fairly certain the kids weren’t either. Buttercup was the first girl to voice her objections loudly… when Nature-chick said “you can touch it” about the first item up for grabs (a deer skull) she didn’t even hesitate to belt out “I’m not going to touch that!” and was echoed by a handful of the girls who were clearly trying to back away.

I convinced her to touch the deer skin by saying “it feels soft like a kitty, honey” and that emboldened all of the girls to try it – but once the detached beaver tail came out, they were done.

It didn’t help much that Nature-chick’s explanation of why the coyote had such long canines and the owl had such a sharp beak were variants of “that’s so he can go outside, pounce on a squirrel, shake it to death and rip its throat out and eat it…” and “that’s so he can swoop down silently from the sky and seize a bunny with his sharp talons and kill it and rip into it with his sharp beak to shred it and eat it.”

Seriously?

Did you seriously just repeatedly tell my child that nice old Mister Owl and Mister Coyote like to pounce on the fuzzy woodland creatures that Snow White adores so and rip them to shreds and eat them? Because I was thinking I’d like to have your phone number, Nature-chick, so that when she wakes up at 3 a.m. with the “Mommy! There’s an owl in my room and it’s trying to kill me and eat me!” nightmare I can call you and ‘share’ the experience with you.

Don’t get me wrong – I think rabbit tastes delicious. I’m just fairly certain that it does me little good to censor what she sees on T.V. when you’ve decided that it’s appropriate to talk about predators and bunny killing with my child before I do…

Oh – and don’t even get me started on telling the kids that a male deer’s antlers are there to attract the ‘lay-dees’ and demonstrating to them how he ‘struts’ to show off and trying to get them all to emulate you by wiggling your hips with a horn on your head and telling them “strut!! Strut with me!!” At least none of them went along with you on that, Nature-chick… so you were the only one looking silly.

So now the likelihood that my daughter is going to be eating meat any time in the near future? Slimmer than it was before, if that’s possible. Seriously, couldn’t we have at least pretended that hamburger comes from the store for a few more years?

Ah well. Live and learn I guess. It just makes me all the more leery about the next field trip. I mean, I know we go to Home Depot at some point later in the school year. Do I have to worry about someone showing my daughter how to use a Sawzall to dismember something? Yikes.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if Nature-chick did the taxidermy herself? Hmmm…

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~ by Lucretia on October 24, 2007.

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