We began our vacation and the kids, Sidney especially, were all about goin' fishin.' As you can see she had a great time catching little perch off of the dock and letting them go. So one morning, Brian calls me from out on the water and says "tell the kids to come down to the dock and see the giant catfish we caught!" There was much excitement as everyone ran down to see it. This excitement was followed by sheer horror and panic by Sidney when she realized it wasn't being immediately let go.
This was no ordinary catfish. It was indeed a suicidal one. At about 8 pounds itself, it was found swimming on top of the water with a 3 pound bass wedged in it's mouth. Having missed it's mark, the bass was lodged in trying to exit through the catfish's gill. So in effect this was a weakened catfish whose catch made for a good fish story.
Sid was inconsolable. I am constantly amazed at how deeply she feels for the plight of all living things. For example, while fishing for fun, she'd use mayflies as bait. But she'd search out spider webs and only use the ones that were already dead. This, as you can imagine, was fairly in-effective and switching to dough-balls in the end worked much better.
I went to talk to her, and she said "how would you like to be hooked by the mouth, yanked out of the water, skinned and then cooked??" (the memory of this verbiage is not complete as I was stunned by not only the incredible emotion, but the eloquence of the statement from my 8-year old). By this point she had thrown herself on the doc very dramatically (wearing her black "I love vampire's t-shirt). My brother-in-law is a priest and he and another priest friend of the family were at the lake with us. Fr. Jerome, seeing how distraught she was, approached Sidney and tried to calm her with the story of the loaves and the fishes. I can assure you she was hearing none of that.
When Brian made it back to the dock about 30 minutes later, she had calmed down some. She was following a snapping turtle in the water. Brian went over to look and she screeched, not you "catfish murderer." Yikes! At this point she staged her own sit-in wrapping herself around Brian's leg until he let the fish go.
Discussions of the Circle of Life and humane treatment are fairly common in our family. In teaching our kids where our food comes from and how what we don't produce gets to our table. The kids are typically very philosophical in their thought processes, but this time it's somewhat different. This fish is badly injured and most likely going to die anyway, isn't it better for us to take care of it so it doesn't suffer? Yes, concedes my daughter, but we can't eat it, we need to bury it. I let her know of our plan to go out to a catfish restaurant the next night for dinner. This she didn't mind. It was more the thought of us being intimately involved in killing our own food, versus someone else doing it.
It is a process. She has had stages in her young life where she has insisted on being vegetarian (most notably a time when she was six), and we've supported that as long as she ate well. Now she does eat meat, but always very thoughtfully. Just as her dad and I lament over things like the peaches from my guilty pleasures post, Sidney laments over every living thing as she tries to understand the circle of life. Now Charlie, a very thoughtful child in his own right, just wanted to eat the fish!