Tasty Truth

My daughter is an intelligent, funny, beautiful young lady. Only in her twenties, she already has a husband and a two year old son. On a recent phone call, as we discussed her fast-paced sales job, I was reminded that I wasn’t talking to my little girl anymore. Where did the tiny kid go I used to carry in my arms? I stopped mid-sentence and made a wistful comment about her being so grown up.

“Will you always think of me as a five year old?” she sighed. I could almost hear her rolling her eyes.

“Yes Baby Doll.” I answered, calling her the name I’ve called her since the days I carried her in my arms.

Even as a five year old, she was outgoing and curious. She sometimes asked questions that forced me, I felt, to come up with the tiniest of white lies. I wanted to shield her from the harsher realities of life for as long as I could. How dare anything ruin her happy, innocent world?

For instance, the time she asked why the raccoon was lying, belly-up, on the side of the road. I told her it was napping and I rolled up the window before she questioned the odor. And who could fault me for saying our goldfish was practicing the backstroke the day it floated lifelessly at the top of the tank? Or the time she saw two lewd Labradors lost in the throes of passion. Clearly, they were just playing leapfrog. I ushered her into the house.

I didn’t want her innocent mind tainted by such things and I found myself constantly on guard for realities I might need to filter. However, I was off my game the day the chicken truck pulled up beside us at a red light.

A few miles past where we lived at the time were huge chicken farms. Periodically, trucks loaded with live chickens traveled down a major road near our house. I’d made illegal U-turns several times just to avoid them. I couldn’t imagine what I would say if she ever asked about those trucks full of caged chickens being hauled to their deaths. I was always on watch.

Except that day.

I hadn’t noticed that it was an actual chicken truck when it stopped beside me. I was aware that a vehicle was there, but nothing prompted me to look over until I reached to change the radio station. That’s when something floated down and landed on my windshield. A feather.

Chickens!” I gasped.

As I glanced over, afraid to confirm, I noticed my daughter in the back seat looking intently through her window. Just feet away from her little face were hundreds of white chickens crammed into metal cages. Feathers floated everywhere. I can still see my daughter’s wide eyes as she stared at the sight.

I stopped looking at her, whirled around to face forward, and prayed for a green light. It remained agonizingly red. I thought maybe she wouldn’t ask anything.

Silly me.

“Daddy?” I heard the sweet little voice.

This was it. Please let me think of a good one.

“Yes?” I answered, willing the light to turn green. It didn’t.

“Is that what chicken nuggets look like before we eat them?” She pushed her face against the window for a better look.

I couldn’t think of anything to say. I had no idea she even knew chicken nuggets came from chickens. She obviously didn’t pay attention the day I told her they were made by nugget elves.

Well, she was five. I guessed it was time she started processing some of those realities I’d kept from her. I couldn’t avoid this one. She was staring at a truckload of misery and there was no way I could save her. I nearly teared up as I resigned myself to the answer.

“Yes, Baby Doll.” I said gently. “That’s what chicken nuggets look like before we eat them.” I gripped the steering wheel, stared at the stubborn red light, and waited for her to wail at the awful truth. I kept waiting.

Finally, she spoke.

“Mmmm!” she said with a huge grin. “I love chicken meat!”

The light turned green.

Stuart M. Perkins

110 Comments

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110 responses to “Tasty Truth

  1. Mary Jordan

    Thank you for sharing this delightful story!

  2. K H Richardson

    Reblogged this on KK's Candor and commented:
    It’s all perspective. She loved her chicken nuggets! How many times as a parent have you been in a spot like this?

  3. Hum! Life lesson? Hard sometimes to deal with our ugly reality… why do we eat animals? Children are wonderful and everything is simple and clear with them. Thanks for this story.

  4. Ahhh… This is a bittersweet, yet, delightful story. Kids often surprise us with their wisdom-beyond-their-years observations and comments.

  5. Delightful story! Yes, we can’t hide the truth from our children forever… but your gentle heart certainly wanted to maintain her innocence as long as possible. Very touching! You’re such a sweet daddy! ❤

  6. Oh, I laughed till I cried on this one! I could just imagine my 5-year-old granddaughter saying those things. Thanks for the laughter.

  7. Too bad about all your wasted concern.

  8. Ah, the innocence of youth. There are a lot smarter than is comfortable.

  9. That’s funny. A good story for good memories. My kids never had that distance between live animals and plate. The turkeys that ran across our backyard were all called Supper, and the kids came with me to drop them and the meat birds (large chickens) off at the slaughter house. They also stood by the fence to watch while I put the does with the buck to be bred, and there months later when the goat kids landed on the ground. We talked about breeding, fecal samples and other such things over the supper table. It was as natural as talking about Sponge Bob, going to the beach and watermelon.

  10. This brings back such sweet and humorous memories from raising my children. My kids are in their 20’s and 30’s now, but I can remember just like it was yesterday.

  11. Children absorb much more than we realise – a delightful account of just that.

  12. Great story. Truth is like a pregnancy. It can’t remain hidden for too long.

  13. LOL! I didn’t see that coming!

  14. Kids, they have their own perspective 🙂

  15. Diane Perkins

    Enjoyed this story – and all the little details! Kid’s often surprise us with their thoughts and logic. Thanks for sharing it.

  16. HAHAHAHA well, at least she gave a positive response! 😉

  17. Hmmm….My son is 55 and a vegan! He has lost his childhood innocence.

  18. atennismom

    Love your story! Oh how we try to protect our children– even when they are grown. Then we do it all over with our grandchildren.

  19. Five-year-olds are the best. Everything is so new to them. Your daughter took the truth better than my girls.

  20. Lovely story. Even when they stop being children, we never stop being parents!

  21. A perfect illustration of the child teaching the father. My little girl, now in her 40s, still teaches me. And even better: makes me laugh.

  22. Wonderful story of the common sense earthiness of childhood.

  23. I read this late in the evening and laughed aloud. Which came first: chicken or nugget? Excellent story. Luckily the light turned green!

  24. This is a really sweet story 😊 Thanks for sharing!

  25. Gail

    Sweet story. Amazing how children process information.

  26. Great story! Kids are so much smarter than we think 🙂

  27. This made me think of the time I asked my mom if the “dog” we ate in sandwiches came from weinie dogs. (She always called bologna “dog” for some reason that I still don’t fathom to this day.)

  28. Sounds like she knows more than she let on 😂

  29. Stuart … as always, I love this. We try so hard to protect our children. To this day I CANNOT look at a chicken or turkey transport truck without feeling angered at the treatment of living creatures & saddened at their plight, even though I enjoy a good chicken dinner. I always look away or cover my eyes … even when driving. Relating to this blog entry was very easy for me.

  30. Children grow up fast isn’t it? Lovely post. Since we are vegetarian I related to the post . I shut my eyes tight whenever I have to go through a meat selling shop.

  31. Jan

    I enjoy reading your stories so much! I also have a daughter, and two more to boot, all in their 20’s.
    Loved this ending (pun intended!), haha!!

  32. billericaydicky

    What a wonderful little story 🙂

  33. I enjoyed this so much! It is a testament to the uncomfortable realities that are part of the givens of our lives. I always like to think that the chicken I buy at the grocery store is not from real chickens who had to be killed. It was some other way . . .

  34. Things change. When you get to be my age, your kids become like a parent to you. Wait and see….

  35. Loved this! She was pretty savvy connecting her nuggets to those clickers! The other day my 5 year old grandson asked me why girls and boys had different “private parts”. He was showering with his 3 year old sister. I gulped and said it really wasn’t all that important until he grew up some. He seemed okay with that… Whew! The next time I’m going to say “Ask your parents.” Ha ha ha!

  36. What a delightful read!!! 😍

  37. I didn’t see who wrote this post and went on reading. Upon reading “Daddy”.. It touched and surprised me that how caring father you are. I was reading in context of Mom..May be bcz I am Mom. 😊Time flies so fast. Loved the story. 👌

  38. You story made me go “awww.” Thank you for sharing.

  39. Im so scared for my little ones to grow up. I can relate with you trying to shield your child from this world

  40. Pingback: Tasty Truth – With Brave wings she flys

  41. I just smiled. Been a hard day!

  42. Such a great piece. Thank you for sharing it.

  43. Oh my goodness! What a sweet heart. I hope our conversation goes just as well when my sons start to ask things like that!

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