They had wiped their plates clean. All that remained were some stray vegetables and small bones.
“Did you like the meat, girls?” Papa asked. They nodded their assent. In the seconds that followed, I looked up at my husband and attempted to use our finely tuned marital ESP to convey a warning to him. “Do not say anything more on the subject,” I said with my eyes.
He missed my message. After a brief pause, he spoke again. “It was lamb,” he announced proudly, thrilled that Chloe and Sophie had enjoyed something new. I shook my head. Who’s with stupid now, I asked myself as I looked at the man who fathered my beautiful daughters.
The silence that ensued lasted a mere instant.
“Lamb?” repeated Chloe with a hint of disgust. Just a hint, however, because Chloe is Chloe and doesn’t really harbor much affection for animals of any kind.
It took a few seconds longer for Sophie to realize what she had just ingested. As her Papa’s words sunk in, she immediately started to cry. The tears then turned into a keening wail, not unlike Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter series.
“Lamb?” she croaked. She could barely form words. As she continued to sob, I could tell her brain was working overtime to process what had just transpired.
“SHIRLEY! I JUST ATE SHIRLEY!” She stormed off to the sunroom and slammed the door behind her. My husband and I stifled our laughter so as not to traumatize her any further (we make no claims to any parent of the year awards).
Who’s Shirley? We don’t live on or near a farm. There are no live lambs in our neck of the suburban woods. Nor is Shirley a beloved cartoon or book character.
Shirley is Sophie’s most cherished stuffed animal. She happens to be a lamb. Chloe bought Shirley for Sophie when Sophie was a toddler. Shirley is also a faithful friend to Bone-Bone the dog and Uni the unicorn.
As I witnessed Sophie react to what she had just eaten, I recalled the the scenes from the TV series “Hannibal” when it finally dawns on Will and Jack that, for months, they’d been unwitting cannibals at Dr. Lecter’s elaborate feasts.
Papa was Sophie’s Hannibal.
We’re going to Iceland this summer – a country that’s exotic not just for its spectacular landscapes, but its food, too. Although chicken is the most popular meat in the U.S, it is not the most common meat in Iceland. Guess what is? That’s right. And there’ll be no hiding it from Sophie, either. Do you know what the word for lamb is in Icelandic? You’d think it’d be all sorts of multi-syllable complicated. Like their volcano called Eyjafjallajökull. No such luck. It’s just plain old “lamb.”
Have you ever wished you pulled the wool over your kids’ eyes when it comes to food?