Fish Mistake

Everybody makes mistakes.

Some mistakes are small and the recovery is easy and painless. Some mistakes leave a deeper scar and it takes more to repair the damage.

Unfortunately, there are those mistakes that can’t be fixed. Attempts could be made and the ol’ “time heals all wounds” could be applied, but it doesn’t help. These are the worst ones.

The hard thing about a kid like mine, is that sometimes what I label as a small mistake, he treats as unforgettable.

Take our recent trip to the fish store.

Since we’ve learned about the importance of salmon with the Northwest Coastal Indians, I thought a trip to the fish store would bring our learning to life.

Sadly, it did bring it to life; however, not in the way that I intended.

When we opened the door and I saw his face as he looked at the case, I wondered if this was a good idea. He quickly saw the fish placed one after another in stacks and rows. Their eyes staring at the customers as they walked in.

In the middle of the store were large containers, filled with shellfish on ice.

“Are there animals in there?”

Without fully understanding the point of his question, I said “Yes and over here are packages where you can see what an oyster, or clam, or mussel looks like when people eat them.”

At that point, I should have realized that he wouldn’t like the looks of those snacks. Even I didn’t find the contents very appetizing.

I wasn’t thinking, so I continued our fish store field trip. “Come over here and see the live crabs and lobsters.”

He followed my directions, dragging his feet and wearing no enthusiasm on his face.

“Are those real animals?”

“Yes. They are cool aren’t they?”

No immediate response. He just stood and watched for a moment.

“Can we go? I don’t like the smell of this place.”

Even though he had complied with my requests, I was a little annoyed. After all, this was supposed to enhance his learning.  That’s what we try to do.

Once in the car, he said little about what he witnessed…until dinner.

He was presented with a dinner that looked delicious. Potatoes, salad and salmon say on all of our plates.

“Is this salmon what we saw today?”

My mouth was already full of food, “Yes. It looks great.” After chewing and swallowing, I rehashed what we saw and tied it back to the books that we had read.

“I’m not eating it. I’ve decided that I’m not eating anything that is meat or was alive.”


I understand his position. If I think too long about the facts about where my food comes from, I wouldn’t want to eat.

There have been long periods of times where I have been vegetarian. In fact, for a while I experienced what I called, “chicken remorse.” An immediate and strong regret about consuming chicken.

It was different when I was a vegetarian. I was a grown up. I knew how to still eat balanced meals.

The rest of dinner, we explained that if he didn’t want to eat meat, he would have to be open to alternatives.

“That’s fine…like what?”

We explained that beans would be a good choice.

The fact that he is a nine-year old boy, the discussion of beans took us right to bodily functions that aren’t welcomed at the dinner table.

To be honest, I was hoping that he would have forgotten about his anti-meat perspective the next day.

I presented him with a favorite snack, sliced turkey and corn chips.

I watched as he ate the chips and ate some of  the turkey. “Oh good” I thought. I was relieved. It was just easier.

“Oh, remember that I don’t want to eat meat?” I lied. “I wasn’t thinking about it and just gave you a snack that you like.”

“Not anymore…I mean…I’ll still eat the chips.”


l know I should support this and I will…I guess.

I tried to erase the memories of those fish, but this discussion seemed to solidify his position.

I told him that I made a mistake taking him. I didn’t know that it would impact him like that.

Damage done.



















11 thoughts on “Fish Mistake

  1. Please know that I’m not suggesting this would be easy but maybe you could move from the science/social studies lesson to math, health and nutrition. What if you were to embrace his new found vegetarian stance and have him research what he can eat (in addition to beans) then calculate what healthy portions would be. Does he like to cook? Finding recipes could be next. There are websites that help you plan meals using the ingredients you have on hand. is one example. Doing the grocery shopping would be a great social lesson. Just my thoughts from my couch sitting next to a girl who is easy to feed so again…please know I’m not foolish enough to think this idea is simple to execute. :0)

  2. Well… as much as I’d like to say something supportive to you, I’m actually on *his* side of this issue, and quite delighted. More people need to actually THINK about where that tidily-wrapped package of steaks come from. If you need help vegetarianizing anything you guys regularly eat, do let me know – I’ve been a vegetarian for 17 years with an omnivore husband during that time, so I’m an old pro at trying to make everyone happy. 🙂

  3. I so understand! I read my son Little House in the Big Woods a couple years ago. He seemed to really enjoy it and then at supper one night announced, “You guys can eat meat if you want to but I’m not going to, it’s too scary.”

    Thankfully we didn’t eat a whole lot of meat as it was so it wasn’t a huge loss and my family is all cool with random food jogs so my mom always had vegetarian options for him when we were at her house for dinner, but it was certainly a relief when he decided to eat meat again (though he is still pretty limited in it and sometimes asks difficult questions about where it comes from). I am sometimes anxious about reading aloud now… What else will I scare him off of… But so far we’ve read a ton without anything else coming up.

    Good luck weathering this!

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