It finally dawned on her at the dinner table. My four-year-old daughter picked up a piece of steak and asked, "What animal is this Mommy?" I responded, "a cow."
After she made a funny face, she proceeded to bombard me with questions about hot dogs, chicken, bacon and ham. Then she started asking about her veggies! I assured her that none of her veggies ever had eyeballs.
There comes point in every child's life -- a light bulb moment -- when he or she realizes exactly what's being served for dinner. For children who’ve been exposed to farming, hunting, or animal rights concerns, the news doesn’t come as a surprise. For city slickers like mine who get their meat from the grocery store, the news is a little hard to swallow.
As I did with my older children, I explained to her the basics about meat from the farm to the dinner table. I mentioned that some animals are raised for food and other animals like our pets are raised to be friends. Fortunately, she spared me the really tough questions. In return, I spared her another review of The Lion King and discussion of the whole Circle of Life thing.
It turns out our little dinner conversation didn't phase her all that much. Whew! She still ate every last piece of her daddy's specialty on the grill but it was seasoned with a little extra knowledge.
Aysu Basaran is the busy mom of three girls and assistant news director for WRAL-TV.