We just had another successful movie night with Luke. It’s always a bit of a trick to find a movie that not only a 3 1/2-year-old would enjoy, but also the parents. I picked Bambi. I was slightly apprehensive, based on hearing about some kids having issues with the whole “mom dying” thing. Additionally, last year Luke bawled at the end of Winnie the Pooh, because Pooh walked away into the sunset at the end. Of course, Pooh is like his best friend. No one wants to see your best friend walk away from you.
I decided he was old enough to deal with the tough issue of Bambi’s mother dying. It would be a good conversation.
We started the movie. Luke was really into it. I cued him in to the fact that sometimes people hunt deer. He wanted to know why people shoot things, if deer tasted good, and when he was going to eat some. Things were good, and then…Bambi’s mom got shot.
“Mom, what happened?” He asked, somewhat concerned, if not agitated.
“Bambi’s mom got shot by a hunter,” I replied. “They want the meat.”
He was completely nonplussed. “Why didn’t the daddy get shot?”
I reflected, “Well, sometimes that happens. You know. The hunter got one deer and that’s all he needed. So then he was done.”
Luke nodded and replied, “When are you going to get shot? Is someone going to eat you?”
Yikes. Here come the tears, I thought. I immediately went to soothe him. “No one’s going to shoot me. Don’t worry. People don’t eat people. It’s just deer. And cows. And pigs. And other big…animals…that have meat.” I started rambling. Luke mentioned that I actually did have meat on me.
He seemed to gloss over the issue of Bambi losing his mommy, and moved right onto the business of eating her.
“Can people eat her feet?”
“Can people eat her tail?”
“What about her antlers?”
At this point, Zach came down from putting Ben to sleep. I bugged my eyes out at him and attempted to mentally communicate the need for more parental guidance.
Zach got my drift and said, “Luke! What’s been going on? Is there a fire yet??”
Distraction is, of course, our best weapon against conversations we’d rather not have with our kids.
Luke replied, “Bambi’s mom got shot. She’s going to be eaten.”
“Oh. Okay.” Zach plopped down onto the couch.
Luke continued, “They’re going to cut off the head and tail and throw it away.”
Double yikes. Zach and I started. Nervous silent laughter between the two of us. We looked at Luke.
Zach responded, “What??”
“The eyes and tongue too.”
We didn’t know what to say. I had no clue where he got that from. We don’t hunt, and all our meat comes packaged from the grocery store in neat, square chunks. I suppose it made sense, seeing as how he’s never eaten an eye or a tongue, but it was still rather odd.
I asked him, “Luke, where in the world did you come up with that?”
“Do you think they’re going to throw that stuff away in the blue trash can, the gray trash can or the green trash can?”
My eyes got even bigger, and I got a bit hysterical. “Luke, the gray one, I guess.”
Our gray can is for trash.
“Why not the blue one?”
“That stuff’s definitely not recyclable,” I responded.
He nodded. Thankfully, the fire broke out on the movie, and he was distracted.
“If Bambi’s mom was still alive, she could get out a fire hose and put out the fire,” he sagely commented.
We nodded. Back in the land of “different but safe” little kid questions. We finished Bambi without any further discussions, aside from him really not liking it when Bambi and another male deer had a fight. What a movie.
Bambi: 3 stars for cuteness. 5 stars for broaching awful topics.