It started out as such a promising evening. My husband had cooked dinner and served it on my beautiful, new Pioneer Woman dishes. I had baked cookies. All of the children appeared to actually want to eat their food rather than protesting against it.
All seemed well until my six-year-old piped up, “Mommy? Why is this food called chicken when chickens are ANIMALS that live at the FARM?”
Now y’all, I have been taking my child to pick up our freshly slaughtered chicken from the farm since she was knee-high to a grasshopper precisely to teach her where all of our food comes from and the connection between the earth and the goodness of the Lord and our sustenance.
WE WATCH THEM STRIP OFF THE FEATHERS AND DUNK THEM IN AN ICE BATH BEFORE WE TAKE THEM STRAIGHT HOME TO ROAST IS WHAT I AM SAYING HERE.
My husband and I exchanged a glance across the table and then he gently explained that the farm chickens were the same chickens that were on her plate.
Scarlette’s fork clattered across the table as she screeched, “WHAT?! I AM EATING MY FARM CHICKENS?! THIS IS NOT A ACCEPTEDABLE SITUATION! THIS WAS NOT MY INTENTIONS!”
Then she took another bite and said, “Wait just a minute here. How did the farm chickens become plate chickens?”
Listen. I was prepared to have THE TALK with her. When she is ready to know where babies come from, I am on it. I have a book. With diagrams. I. Am. Ready.
But what I was not prepared to do was explain to her how we kill the chickens in order to eat them, especially since I assumed that I had done such an amazing job as a parent of teaching this lesson from a young age.
Pride goeth before a fall and all that.
Scarlette’s eyes filled up with tears as she threw her hands in the air and cried dramatically, “YOU MEAN MY PLATE CHICKENS ARE FARM CHICKENS THAT GOT DEADED?! THIS IS A TERRIBLE OCCURODANCE!”
So now we’re vegan.
My husband looked at me across the table and, pulling at the neck of his shirt, asked, “Is it just me or is it hot in here?”
That’s when I noticed that it was growing unreasonably hot and not just because I was feeling flustered at the turn of our dinner conversation but because our air conditioner had abruptly gone out.
Which was unfortunate because I live in the deep south and it was the hottest day of the year thus far.
At my husband’s insistence, I took the kids over to his parent’s house in order to keep them cool since it was nearing ninety degrees in our house. Which was a very different course of action than my plan of just putting on our bathing suits and eating all of the ice cream we had in the freezer. One of us is a very responsible adult with solid, logical ideas about how to handle an unexpected household crisis.
(Me. It’s obviously me.)
He was really quite anxious about the kids overheating but I, however, was like “They’ll be fine. They just need to eat some popsicles and then we’ll spray them down with the garden hose. Trust me. I grew up in the south with no air conditioning!”
(I took the kids to my in-laws anyhow because my father-in-law always makes us fresh chocolate chip cookies when we visit and I may or may not be motivated by delicious snacks.)
When I was growing up we had a huge, horizontal fan embedded in our hallway ceiling that went up through our attic. In the heat of a southern summer, we just paired the attic fan with ceiling fans and open windows and sort of sweltered.
Also, we yelled at each other a lot because it was very loud, almost like having a large vehicle constantly revving its engine parked on your roof, and so you couldn’t actually hear anything over the sound of the fan whirring.
I’m not actually even sure why it feels so nostalgic to me given that whenever we would play in the attic my parents would holler at us to, “stay away from the attic fan” so that we didn’t fall into its GIANT METAL BLADES while it was running. My childhood was clearly a hallmark of safety.
Still, to this day I have an aversion to running the air conditioner. I am very happy to watch the thermostat climb into the eighties with my ceiling fans swooshing and the scent of fresh-cut grass wafting in through the open windows in the summer. I was quite amenable to just forgoing the air conditioner repair altogether and made a very compelling argument for that course of action on account of how, “fall is almost here anyhow.”
And my husband looked at me blankly for a moment and then deadpanned, “Yeah, I have no idea where our daughter gets her super logical ideas from.”
So now we have air conditioning again and also we’ve acquiesced to calling all chicken based dishes, “Plate Chicken.”