I believe we were watching a movie like Finding Nemo. It was probably a year ago or even more. As Bug snuggled close I turned to him to see if he was ok. He replied, "Sometimes I get water in my eyes during that movie."
For the last week I've been reading Bambi to the boys. If I ever read it myself I don't remember. I know I never saw the movie, but I certainly know parts of the story. I knew Bambi's mother (spoiler alert!) died in the book and I knew that reading it at bedtime might be difficult when we got to that part. I thought we were there a few nights ago, based on the illustration of a hunter at the first page of the chapter, but it wasn't as bad as I'd worried. Last night was. I was torn between wanting to change the language to soften the blow, wanting to stop reading before finishing the chapter, and soldiering on. I finished reading it. "And Bambi never saw his mother again." (Love ya, goodnight guys!)
Bug grabbed me and stuffed his head into my armpit. I don't think he was crying but I couldn't see his face. Pook had actual tears. If it hadn't been well past Bug's bedtime, I would have discussed the story and their feelings. As it was, we quickly talked about how hard it would be to write a story that made readers feel so strongly. We kept away from the dead mom issue as we finished tucking them into bed.
It came up again in the morning, and Pook got teary eyed again. "I just think it isn't fair that the animals didn't understand what was happening to them." Earlier in the story, when winter had become harsh, many animals were killing each other. The boys had cringed, but seemed to accept it. They've learned before that animals that don't eat other animals will die themselves, or not have food to feed their babies. The phrase "survival of the fittest" came into use. Mother Nature is harsh.
Bug added, "They shouldn't hunt if they don't use the animals." Most of the animals killed by the group of hunters in the most recent chapter were pheasants, plus one hare and a few deer, (at least two with names). We talked about hunters and the meaning of 'venison'. We bought a portion of beef from a farmer friend this year and so, for the first time, have been eating meat from a cow we have met. I want the kids to be grateful for it, and not to be turned off by a carnivorous world. I've tried to share a Native American view on meat eating with the kids. I explained that current hunting laws don't let fawns get shot, but that there is a hunting season each fall for the adults. There are more deer in North America now than there were when Columbus arrived, so unless we've named them and gotten attached, killing deer isn't such a terrible activity.
We'll try to start reading time earlier tonight so we have plenty of time to deal with the conversations that follow. Maybe I need to keep a box of tissues next to the bed until Bambi is finished.