"I want that piece." Bjorn says at dinner, pointing at the chicken drumstick on the center plate.
"Ummmm......I'm not sure you...uhhh....can you eat that?!" I look at The Hubs questioningly. As a bacon-eating vegetarian, I don't know if a 4 year old can eat a chicken drumstick, with all its skin and bones and tendons and weird fatty clear things that aren't really able to be chewed but look just like chicken until it is actually in your mouth.
"Yes! Yes I can!"
The Hubs shrugs. "Sure, go for it."
Bjorn grabs the drumstick with one hand, biting into it full force. A hunk of greasy chicken skin hangs out of his mouth as he chews, and I resist the urge to cringe. Mostly. I may have made a semi-horrified face.
"Here," I said, handing him a napkin. "You can put the parts you can't eat in the napkin."
He shoves the dangling skin in his mouth. "I'm good."
He takes more bites and I have a clear picture of long-dead ancestors, sitting on rocks outside their cave, devouring mammoth legs beside their newly discovered fire. Bjorn has no table manners at all when it comes to drumstick eating, and I am too horrifyingly paralyzed by the sheer act to teach him. Don't get me wrong - I don't want my kids to be picky eaters like me; it's an incredibly difficult way to eat, especially if you love restaurants and going out as much as we do, and it requires eating a lot of salads.
But drumsticks? They are gross. The tendons, the stringiness, the fact that it so closely resembles an animal - the whole thing grosses me out. I'm literally (literally!!) shuddering as I am writing this, I am so disgusted by the thought.
Then Peanut joins in on the fun. Monkey see, monkey do.
I'm almost entirely certain that 2 year olds most definitely don't know how to eat off a drumstick, so I go to stop her, but Bjorn gets there before me.
"You want some, Peanut?! Ok! You can have some of my drumstick!" and he holds the leg out for her to gnaw on.
Who am I to stop a boy from sharing with his sister?
They pass the chicken leg back and forth, and Bjorn talks as he eats, his sister nodding agreeably along with him. "I know this is a chicken leg. I know this is a chicken - a chicken that says 'Bawk! Bawk!' and has legs and feet and wings. I know this is a chicken like the ones we see at the zoo."
This is one of the main reasons I can't eat meat. It too closely resembles an animal, so it feels wrong to me. It tastes of sadness and animal babies without mothers, and overwhelmingly it takes like flesh and meat, which is just so wrong. Even if it was an animal that died eating organic grass in a land of marshmallows and butterflies and happiness, it doesn't help. I always think of Bambi and Thumper and Sebastian and Flounder, all those sweet Disney animals, and I just can't eat meat.
My kids have no problem with it.
A few days later, we are eating tacos for dinner - black bean for me, carne asada for everyone else.
"What animal is this?" Bjorn asks, popping a strip of steak in his mouth.
On the inside, I cringe, but I answer obligingly. "The same animal as hamburger."
"Nooooooo. This isn't hamburger. A hamburger is from a cow. What animal is this?"
The Hubs - the steak-loving, meat eating, completely carnivorous Hubs is strangely quiet across the room. He has his back to me, and if I didn't know better, I would think he was laughing at his squeamish vegetarian wife having to answer these questions. But, nooooo, that couldn't be right, could it?!
"It IS from the same animal. Steak and hamburger come from the same animal, but different parts of the animal and made different ways so it doesn't look the same." I say.
I am way out of my comfort zone here. No clue if I am even right. I have no reference to how steak and hamburger is made besides knowing that if I DID know, I probably couldn't eat anything for a few weeks. Even now, this talk of cows and steak and meat is making me feel so queasy, I can't even eat my nicely soil grown rabbit food dinner.
"This is cow? Really?" Bjorn questions, after a few more rounds of 'what animal is this'.
Across the kitchen, The Carnivorous Hubs finally answer. "Yep. And what do cows say?"
The kitchen echoes with the alternating sounds of my 4 year old and 2 year old shouting "Moo Moo Moo!" and shoving bites of cow-steak into their little meat-loving mouths.
If I wasn't already a vegetarian, I would definitely be now. I am completely grossed out.