Opinions & Experiences

Toddler Life Lessons From Jacques Pepin


As a parent we get to enjoy the education of life that takes place in the world of our children. Sometimes it’s joyous, sometimes it’s heartbreaking and sometimes it’s both.

This is one of those “both” moments.

I watch tv on my Ipad in bed. No, it’s really not healthy to watch tv before falling asleep. But sometimes I am wide awake, mentally dumb and physically exhausted at the end of a day, so I choose to lay still and watch rather than meditate or read. Recently, I started rewatching Julia Child’s The French Chef. It brings back childhood memories of Saturday morning cooking shows on PBS. One evening, in an attempt to get my 4 year old to bed when she was refusing,  I offered to let her share my ear plugs and watch with me, thinking it would soon bore her and eventually she would sleep. To my surprise and delight, she loves cooking shows!

Last night was one of those nights when she was refusing bedtime, so I offered a cuddle with Momma and a cooking show. This time she chose Jacques Pepin. Unfortunately, it was a lobster recipe. It was already cooked, but still whole and he began tearing and pounding at that creature. Some of my readers will remember me discussing my daughter’s decision to be willfully obtuse when it comes to the reality of where we get meat.  With this episode, she wasn’t going to be able to ignore the carnage she was watching.

She asked what it was, where it lived, and finally why that man was “breaking it”. So I answered simply, that is how you get the meat out. Realizing it was bothering her, I had 2 choices, turn it off or let it happen. I was afraid if I turned it off, it would leave her with questions and a negative impression. So instead I asked her. “Does this bother you?”. With sad eyes she looked at me and said “uh, huh”.  Instead of telling her about the cycle of life and trying to remove those feelings, I did what most might consider ridiculous. I told her it bothered me too and that it was ok to feel that way,  because we are supposed to feel sad when life is taken. Because it is sad.

We are so removed from the process of food that we no longer look at that pound of ground beef and see a life force. I firmly believe  the reason our food sources have turned to putrescence is because we as a nation no longer emotionally or physically participate in it’s production. When we feel the loss of life, we respect our food and demand that it be better. We are more grateful for it’s gift of nourishment. I can tell you the name of every piece of beef in my freezer. Each steak had a personality, a name and a life. I don’t ever want to lose that, I was proud of my sensitive child for feeling this way and I wanted to nurture it. No that’s not true, what I really wanted to do was change  to another episode, tell her it was only a TV show and that the lobster was fine. But I didn’t, and I am proud of both of us for taking the hard road of truth.

The end result?

She decided it looked yummy and wants to try some lobster. She was too tired and most likely too young  to understand the problem with good seafood in a landlocked state.

That truth will have to wait for another day.

2 thoughts on “Toddler Life Lessons From Jacques Pepin”

  1. What a great teaching moment you had and you did well. I am not much of a meat eater. It’s expensive, bad for you, and just unnecessary carnage.

    You are such a thoughtful mom with a huge heart!!

    1. I was a vegetarian for many years. I could not handle knowing how animals were treated. I would have gone vegan, but I know I would never have been able to stick with it. I like cheese way too much. Once I found out I was pregnant I knew I needed to source my own food, we made plans to find land immediately. I don’t think I could ever buy that sickly smelling stuff at the grocery store ever again. It is bad for us and bad for our souls. My freezer contains well cared for, milk, grass and organic grain fed chicken and beef. They were given a good life and a humane quick end. Although taking life still bothers me, I know no matter what food choices I make, I will at some point give my family meat. I am always so grateful I can give them the very best available.

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