Boy Two likes animals. Really, really likes them. As long as they can't come close enough to hurt him.
This year for Christmas from my in-laws he received a set of National Geographic animal documentaries and has been plaguing me with requests to watch them. The first one we saw was about the relationship that exists between lions and hyenas in Botswana and it was fairly gruesome. I can watch animals chasing down and killing each other (c'mon, it's their nature), but to see a pack of hyenas pulling the flesh off of a still-living zebra is a little gross. Or a baby hyena kill and eat her baby sister; ew. I decided that I abhor hyenas with a passion and was cheering for the male lion that killed them for annoying him.
After two viewings of said DVD (and the replay and narration by my son with his plastic animals) we decided to shelve the offending video and try something a little more....gentle. So we picked wolves.
Boy Two was enthralled with that wolf clan, who was taken from Canada in 1996 and resettled in Yellowstone Park (where wolves had been missing for sixty years) to control the elk population. I admit, I'm a sucker for documentaries and eagerly find excuses to watch them with my kids while I should, in fact, be cleaning the fridge or scrubbing the bathroom.
The wolf documentary became much more personal for Boy Two when it sporadically told the story of the female beta wolf in the pack who was constantly pushed around by her alpha wolf sister and, finally, driven from the pack for good. Boy Two started to tear up as he watched the beta wolf slink away, whining like a sad puppy, and wandering around by herself, howling for company. The epilogue finally ended her story well by telling of the alpha female's death and subsequent re-admittance of the beta wolf to the pack to care for her sister's pups. This encompassed about twenty minutes of tears and quiet sobs by my boy and at one point he had to come and sit on my lap and bury his face in my neck because it was too much for him.
He even was overcome that evening when recounting the story to Daddy but the entire event served as a decent conversation starter. He was concerned that, if a wolf family could drive away one of their own, certainly a human family could do the same and he was afraid that if it happened to him he wouldn't know what to do or where to go. We talked about how, while we never send people out of the family, we do begin to add people to the family as time goes on and even add other families to our family. This seemed to reassure him, a little. But after watching the documentary the next day he decided that he wasn't going to watch the wolves anymore - they were too sad.
He is so sweet.