Thursday, March 19, 2009

the making of a vegetarian

Here's another book post that was just too big for the sidebar.

For Isaac's birthday last month, our sitter got him the book First Thousand Words in Japanese, a picture dictionary, essentially. Isaac is obsessed with it. We must read it at any nap and every bedtime. "I can't find the 'kai,'" he'll say at the beach scene, searching diligently for the boat oar. We don't put the oversized purple volume back on the bookshelf anymore. It just lives by the bed.

It has also become an unlikely forum for discussing the inevitably complicated world of food choices. We've come across the butcher on the professions page, and the various kinds of meat on the food page. Isaac studies them with the ultimate in consternation, or, some days, simple curiosity or confusion.

We are vegetarians. Let me revise. Isaac and I are vegetarians and although Mike hasn't eaten any meat to my knowledge for years, he rejects the title. Whatever. The only animal product that Isaac consumes is fish oil vitamins. For now, it is easier to break with our morals on this one point and get some important stuff in him.

Even more interestingly, our sitter is a vegan. And yet here we are, among the bikes and boats of the book, the scenes from the countryside, the living room furniture labeled in Japanese, stuck on a couple pages that provide us with a new education and, can I also say, just a bit of torment for parent and for child.

Here are a few of the encounters we've experienced lately:

Day One: Professions

We open the book to where Isaac and his dad left off the day before. It's the professions page. Before I can get started on anything, Isaac zeros in on the butcher slicing ham. Pointing he looks up at me and reports seriously, "Pig."

"Hmm, yeah, pig."

He stares at the picture, not ready to move on. We are quiet.

"That would be ow-y for the pig if it got cut like that."

"Yeah, Iz, I think it would be."

Day Two: Food

"Pig," Isaac announces pointing at the ham.

"Chicken," he says, mashing his finger into the picture of the headless, roasted bird.

His dad beat me to the punch again.

We look at the whole page - the words for toast, rice, honey, circling back again and again to the meats - Isaac's choice. He insists on calling the ham "pig," which is fine with me since I have this crazy idea about honesty.

My kiddo is in deep contemplation, then, "Mama, maybe they eat the eyes too."

"What do you think, Isaac?"

"I don't know," he says accompanied by a troubled look. "Probably before they caught the pig, the pig tried to run away."


"But they just had a gun and they shot the gun at it."

"What do guns shoot?"

"Candy, mostly."

"Hmm. So what do you think of all that?"

My heart nearly breaks waiting through the pause, heavy with what is maybe the weightiest thing his four-year-old mind has had to sort...

"I think it's not very nice."

1 comment:

bobbie said...

what an interesting post. You have taught your son well. Mostly by example, I'm sure.
You know I am not vegetarian, but I'm very proud of you - and of him.

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