Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Since she was little, I have shown The Girl the BBC's treasurehouse of nature documentaries, and Sir David Attenborough has long been one of our heroes. I usually had to watch them in advance, however, to know when she could see the lovely and comical flamingos, and to scroll past the baboon attack.

"Why are you fast-forwarding it, Daddy?" Oh, just a part you won't be interested in, I say. Oh look, we're to the cute hedgehogs now.

I slowly let in more and more as she seems ready to accept it; I don't want her growing up eating chicken legs unless she knows where they come from and be able to harvest them herself, even if I prefer that she eat les messily than the baboons. As time goes on I also expurgate less of the animal courtship; I feel we will need to talk about the human equivalent soon, and I would rather she understand early that we are animals too, whatever else we are.

The one thing I played for her unattended, though, was Attenborough's The Private Life of Plants, which held her spellbound, and which -- I assumed -- there would be no violent deaths. In reality, though, there were some scenes which disturbed her four-year-old self, but which she has quickly embraced with the gruesome glee of childhood; she now makes clay models of predatory plants, and got me a Venus flytrap for my birthday.

We've been feeding it the spiders that come in with the firewood, and while she has a little girl's fear of spiders, she feels much better after feeding them to the houseplants.

Photo: Her plasticine model of a pitcher plant.

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