On Sunday Clark decided to take the kids hunting. A light dusting of snow had fallen the day before, so apparently the conditions were ripe for tracking without trudging.
Clark has been dreaming about this day since the kids were conceived (probably longer) just as much as I’ve been dreading it. Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful Sam and Maggie have a dad whose greatest joy is spending quality time with his children; a dad who teaches them about wilderness and wildlife; a dad who treats our daughter as an equal to our son, rejecting stereotypes and ensuring that she receives the same opportunities as her brother. And I’m amazed by Clark’s knack for turning the entire world into a classroom for our children, taking over an hour to clean a rabbit when it could have been done in ten minutes, all in the interest of a thorough anatomy lesson. For all these reasons and more, I will support their afternoon hunting excursions.
But I don’t like them.
I’ll admit it: as I watched them drive off, I secretly hoped at least one of the kids would follow in my footsteps and burst into tears the second they realized the cute little bunny was, indeed, dead.
A few hours later Clark emailed me these photos with pride, but my gut fell through the floor when I looked at them:
Why were they smiling?
I know it’s crazy to let one little hare hunt upset me so much. There are thousands (-1) of rabbits roaming around Alaska, and most of them only live a few years because they fall prey to eagles, fox, lynx, coyotes, and more. Clark did eat the thing (not as voraciously as a fox, I’m sure) and the kids at least tried a bite of the rabbit stew. So what’s my problem?
That evening I privately pried Clark for details. “So really, no tears at all? They were fine when you shot it?” (I was especially thinking of Maggie, who is known to wail hysterically at all Disney movie deaths.)
He almost laughed when he declared that, no, there were no tears. He should have stopped there, but then he brought out the fightin’ words: “You leave her alone… she did great!”
Leave her alone? Last I checked she was my child too, right? I’m not out to undermine him, but I think I’m entitled to some say in how we raise our children.
Suddenly there’s a giant elephant in our living room, and right now I’d rather take shots at my husband than the pachyderm. The truth is, there are many issues where Clark and I hold divergent views. Our differing values have the potential to become both parenting and marital landmines, and that’s a pretty dangerous elephant to ignore. It’s time to sit down and strategize, because we committed to this team for life.
This has all kind of sprung up on me, because we’ve been aligned on parenting issues since day one. Breast feeding, immunizations, spanking, family dinners, preschool, sleepovers, activities… we automatically agreed on each of these issues with minimal discussion.
But suddenly our little kids are asking big questions, and we are finding that we don’t always have the same answer. Or any answer at all. Do we believe in God? Did Bailey go to Heaven? Who should be the next President? What happens when a baby dies in your tummy?
Part of me thinks we should have ironed this stuff out before we had the audacity to have children. Another part of me thinks it’s okay for our kids to see us wrestle with big issues, disagree with civility, and learn as we grow. Honestly, none of us have all the answers, and even if we did I wouldn’t want to feed them to my children. I want them to experience life from all angles and make choices for themselves.
I’m not a hunter, so I don’t want to shoot that elephant in my living room. But we can’t ignore it, either.