Calling Bull

Since 9/11, NYC’s MTA has been running a safety campaign featuring an unattended bag under a subway seat, under the call to action: “If You See Something, Say Something.” There’s been speculation on the efficacy of the signage, but that’s not where I’m going here.

“Ferdinand the Bull” has been a staple in our kids’ library for their entire lives. I remember it as a kid, along with the Disney animated short of the same story. The other night, Charlotte chose it as part of her nightly reading (at least 15 minutes, as part of her first grade nightly homework). She got through the text fine, almost cheerfully as she was proud that she barely stumbled over any words.

When we were done, she broke down in tears.

She became very upset about the treatment of the bulls in the ring. And even though Ferdinand didn’t get hurt, since he just sat down and smelled (I still think that phrase could have been rewritten to not so sound awkward), she was horrified that the notion of sticking things in a bull even existed. It didn’t matter that it was a made-up story. It didn’t matter that nobody experienced pain in the book. She was distraught.

I told her the best thing we could do is to let people know how much this upset her. If people didn’t know, they couldn’t possibly decide to change their actions.

So she wrote a letter.

"Dear bullfighters, Can you stop trying to stick sharp needles in the bulls? It makes me sad and I don;t want animals to get hurt. Love, Charlotte. And I'm six years old."

“Dear bullfighters, Can you stop trying to stick sharp needles in the bulls? It makes me sad and I don;t want animals to get hurt. Love, Charlotte. And I’m six years old.”

And I researched where to send it.

Ministry of Interior
Amador de los Rios,
Madrid, Spain

The Spanish National Tourist Office
57 St. James Street, London SW1

The Spanish Ambassador
The Spanish Embassy,
24 Belgrave Square, London SW1

I don’t really see this so much as animal activism, but making yourself heard. I let my daughter know she had a voice, and that she could use it to do some good. I was a quiet girl growing up. I didn’t choose to be heard, whether it was to voice an opinion, share an idea or offer praise. And I think it played into my lack of self-confidence into my adulthood. It hurts to not feel sure of yourself. I don’t want my kids to get cocky, but they should trust their opinions are valued. They should not bottle their esteem in the back of their throats.

Here’s to the good that comes from kids being seen AND heard.


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