Once upon a time there was my Mommy! And she was swimming! And she was eaten by a big blue whale! Chomp!
Awesome. As I assured Tornado E that I’m not going swimming and that I won’t be eaten by a blue whale and that in fact blue whales can’t eat anyone because they have teeth like a brush, not teeth like Tornado E, I secretly cursed my best friend and my husband for making this mess I saw coming. My best friend had rented Nim’s Island because they were out of stock on Kung Fu Panda. She assured me that Tornado E would LOVE the movie because of all the animals. But as the opening credits finished, I became unassured as the puppet mom was eaten by a blue whale.
Are you kidding me? A blue whale? They are baleen whales. They can’t even open their mouths for fish much less a person and perhaps a boat. I love blue whales! Go pick on something scary like a sperm whale or an orca. But I digress because my first instinct was to reassure Tornado E.
Me: Don’t worry, Tornado E. Blue whales don’t eat people.
My husband: Yeah, they just swallow them.
My BFF: Faemom. It’s just a story.
Tornado E: Whales swallow them.
Me: (shooting dirty shut-the-f-up looks at the adults) No, Tornado E, blue whales don’t swallow people.
My husband: Sure, they do.
My BFF: (ever the biblical scholar) What about Jonah and the Whale?
Me: That was a sperm whale, not a blue whale. (Wait, that wasn’t reassuring.) It’s just pretend, Tornado E.
My BFF: What’s the difference? He’s got to learn about Jonah and the Whale sometime.
Me: First off, there is a LOT of difference between a sperm whale and a blue whale, starting with the fact that a blue whale can’t open its mouth. And-
Tornado E: Whales swallow people.
Me: Second, where was Jonah when he got swallowed by a whale? There are no big whales in the Mediterranean, which was as close to the oceans the Israelites got because they were desert folk. No, Tornado E, whales don’t swallow people. Look at the lizard!
My BFF: Don’t you have any faith?
My husband: What about a-
Me: No! No, whales do NOT eat people. Yes, I have faith. And I went to the same bible classes that you did. It’s a story!
My BFF: It is, and you’re ruining it. Shh.
And then it got worse, when we decided to watch the deleted scenes, and they showed the scene when Alex Rover almost gets eaten by the imaginary whale as Nim tries to save her. Awesome.
It’s just pretend, Tornado E. Blue whales don’t eat people. They can’t.
So when I was about to kiss Tornado E goodnight, he told me the story of how I was eaten by the blue whale. I explained yet again that blue whales don’t eat people and that we’ll get a book at the library. Remember, Finding Nemo and the whale with the brush teeth?
Of course, Tornado E woke countless times during the night in fear, until I finally let him sleep with us to prove his mommy was not going to be eaten by a whale.
This saddens me because as a kid I loved ocean animals. The first book I read all by myself was The Hungry, Hungry Shark. My brothers and I would use my canopy bed to explore the oceans, diving with sharks and dolphins. I did countless reports on whales and dolphins. For a good portion of my childhood, I dreamt of being a marine biologist, spending my thirteenth birthday watching the dolphins at Sea World. Now my little boy is afraid of the sweetest, gentlest of whales, my favorite whale that I had hopes of one day seeing and perhaps swimming with. I mean it’s a blue whale, not an orca, which are way scarier. Anyone see Orca? Ok, bad example, that one was actually funnier than Jaws.
My hope is to teach Tornado E more about whales and explain to my husband and my best friend why we don’t teach three-year-olds that whales swallow people.