You know what I missed out on in fifth grade?
Sure I had some tiffs with friends and there was one girl we didn’t always include (I’m sorry, Heidi. It’s one of my bigger regrets in life).
But I don’t remember any girls who were mean just to be mean.
I do remember the Day of the Great Cow Slaughter.
My brother remembers it too. He would have been six or seven at the time.
Kids stood three deep watching through the chain link fence that separated the school playground from the neighbor’s cow pasture. Mr. Neighbor Man accomodated our curiosity by doing the whole thing a mere two feet away from us, ignoring that other half acre of pasture he had with its hidden corners.
He shot the cow in the head. I remember it was with a rifle, but I could be wrong. Whatever he used it was quick. One minute the cow was standing, the next minute it was down.
I didn’t see it again (I was short even then and did not have a prime spot at the fence) until after much cranking of the pulley in the back of Neighbor Man’s truck, the cow hung by it’s back hooves on a giant hook. Which has a name that I would know had I achieved my dream of being a cowgirl. But I didn’t, so I don’t.
I watched as the neighbor split the cow open. My only thought was, “I wonder if it’s true cows have five stomachs” then being disappointed that the guts fell out in a giant, gray fleshy ball covered in wet grass. It was a little like watching my dad dump the grass out of the lawn mower bag. If the grass were covered in cow cud.
There may have been blood. But I don’t think so. I’m the girl who gets grossed out by band-aids, so I think I’d remember blood.
In fact, the whole thing is just a funny little grade school memory to me. A product of my childhood in Idaho. Made even more curious by the fact this took place while we lived in Boise–the capitol of that fair state–and not in the farm town we’d later move to.
Because, really, how many kids get to watch a cow slaughtering in between playing handball and crack the whip?
Not my kids They still play crack the whip and handball, but I can’t even imagine the uproar if the kids at their school were exposed to a real life lesson on Where Your Hamburger Comes From.
They can listen to Katy Perry, wear daisy dukes, read books about kids fighting each other to the death, then see the big screen depiction of it. Their parents will let them dress like adults, talk like adults, and think they’re adults.
What they won’t do is give them responsibilities or make them take any.
And you know what?
If I had my druthers, I’d let my kids view a backyard cow slaughtering over being exposed to these kids any day.
Because those coddled kids are mean.
Especially the girls.