The other day I had the kids out working in the garden with me when the boys disappeared. After a few minutes, I sent Anaya around the front of the house to look for them and bring them back. I heard shouts, and Anaya came running back around the corner of the house.
"Mommy, we can't come now! School is happening in the front yard!"
When homeschooling mommies hear announcements like that, there is a momentary thrill of, "Yes! They get it! Life is meant to be crammed with learning!" followed by a "Whaddaya mean, 'school is happening'? I said come to the garden!"
"The cat caught a little animal, like a mouse or something!"
Muttering under my breath about who gets to decide when school happens and whether people need to come when I call, I ventured around the house and joined the kids, who were crouched, enraptured, watching the cat toy with a shrew that had apparently already gone toward the light. After a few minutes, I decided we had gleaned all the "school" possible. "Let's get back to the garden now."
"No, Mommy!" shrieked Skyler. "We want to see its insides!"
Now, I am firmly committed to welcoming my children's curiosity. I don't ever want to give them the impression that blood and guts are gross and disgusting. I want them to embrace life and learn to explore. I am committed to helping them discover whatever is laid upon their precious little hearts.
But not enough to ooh and aah at the guts of a shrew.
"We're not staying here to watch the cat eat it."
"But Mommy," wailed my youngest, "how will we ever know what's inside it?"
"We'll look it up on the Internet," I suggested cheerfully. "Come on, let's go."
Suffice it to say, I persuaded the budding surgeons to reluctantly abandon their science project to its just owner, and come back to the garden and resume work (if you could call it that). But about half an hour later, Skyler came bounding delightedly back from an excursion to the front of the house. In one hand, he held a makeshift platter of nameless trash, with the carcass of the shrew perched on top. In the other hand he held a large rock.
"Look!" he shrieked in unabashed glee. "The kitty left it! Now we can see what's inside!" He set his platter down and lifted his rock ominously.
"Augh! No! That's not how you see what's inside!"
It took some persuasion, but I finally agreed we'd figure out what was inside the shrew. (But not by smashing it.) And the next day found a cheerful nursing student (Thanks, Deborah!) ready to dissect the shrew with the kids--only to discover that the original murderous mortician had reclaimed the body for her own scientific exploits.