Messing with their heads

00:00, May 15 2013

Having children is a great responsibility. You nurture them and teach them about the world. They're wide-eyed, innocent, waiting for knowledge.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I get the urge to mess with their trusting little minds.

My three-year-old twins have been in an anatomy phase lately. Vieve in particular has been endless with the "What's inside arms? What's inside stomachs? What's inside toes?" questions. 

The other day she came into the kitchen while I was pulling a slow-cooked bacon hock apart, in order to extract the meat.

"What's those bits?"

"This is the meat. It's the muscles. Here's the bones, and this is fat, and here's the skin."


"Oh. We have muscles!"

"Yes, we do."

She gave the bacon hock the side-eye and then looked at me curiously.

"Is that... from people?"

The expression on her face was priceless. I quickly reassured her that it was from a pig, and that other animals have muscles, bones, and skin like we do.

But, oh, the temptation.

I wonder what her reaction would have been if I'd casually said "Yes, that's from people." Would she have accepted it without comment? Asked who it was? Freaked out the way I did when I discovered that the tasty mutton we'd been enjoying for a couple of weeks was from my Calf Club lamb?  (Jeddy Jepedo tasted good.)

I've always been perfectly upfront about where meat comes from, but I'm not sure she's made the connection between beef and cow, pork and pig, or chicken and, well, chicken.

(Hrm, now I'm curious.  Oh! "Pig" is from Old English, and "pork" from Old French. Similarly for beef/cow, mutton/sheep etc. That makes sense.)

Maybe I'm the only one who gets a fleeting impulse to mess with my children's heads... or perhaps not. Paul Jenning's short story No Is Yes (from Quirky Tails) explores the concept of a parent deliberately misleading his child as a scientific experiment. Clearly I'm not the only person who has (jokingly!) contemplated how parenthood makes it easy to skip that pesky ethics committee.

Even a childless friend of mine has succumbed to temptation, teaching a friend's child that the word for "couch" is "puppy".

What about you? Have you ever had the mischievous thought that you could tell your kids complete nonsense, and they'd believe you?