Not too long ago, my son and I visited a far away country. The country of Georgia.
While there we saw castles and palaces and churches and statues. All reminiscent of culture and people who can’t, and won’t, be held down.
We also spent time in the company of family. People who had waited many years to finally hold us in their arms and greet us with warmth and love.
During our stay, we were given the chance to experience a large family dinner with many different exotic dishes including baked fish.
We helped set the table while the family cooed over the youngest and newest member of the family. My son, his hands carefully carrying a plate of small fish coated lightly and smelling delicious, made his way to the table while I worked diligently to make room for the food still to come.
“Look, mama,” he exclaimed, eying the rather fishy looking plate in his hands. “Fish! And they still have their eyes.”
Engrossed in the odd looking food, I watched with intent as my son gracefully picked up one of the small creatures and promptly stuck its head in his mouth and bit down.
For a moment I was so stunned and unsure of what I was seeing that everything seemed to freeze in time. Had I really just watched my son, who hates mayonnaise and pickles on his hamburgers, bite the head off a small fish? Bones and all?
He chewed slowly as the realization grew on him that the fish in front of him was actually a real fish with bones and eyeballs. His face turned sour and his chewing slowed to a stand still.
I could read the realization in his face as he squenched up his nose and pointed to his mouth.
I stifled a laugh.
“Would you like to spit it out now?” I asked.
He nodded quickly and I pulled a plate towards him as he evacuated all that was in his mouth. He quietly spit out bones and scales while I poured him a glass of punch and quietly laughed to myself.
“What did you think, Jake?” I inquired.
Shaking his head, he took a long sip of punch as his grandfather entered the room with a look of amusement on his face. He, too, had witnessed my son unassumingly and without concern bite off the head of a fish. We both began to laugh as Jake pushed away the plate with the remains of the fish.
“I don’t know, mama,” he told me. “I just wanted to see what it would taste like.”
The rest of the family entered the room and we quickly retold the story. Everyone had a good laugh and we toasted my son as the bravest of us all.
For only he was brave enough to eat the head of the fish.