The kids often come home from church with some kind of souvenir: a bookmark (we must have 57 of them floating around), a picture, a scripture card, etc. Last week, my tweenage son brought home a half-carton of chicken eggs.
“My teachers brought some of their chickens to class,” he said. (Yes, live ones. This couple raises hens and roosters in their backyard.)
“What the heck for?” I asked.
“You know–’I will gather you as a hen gathereth her chicks.’”
Talk about object lessons.
My son was excited to show off his bounty, especially to his older sister, who is his willing partner in a perpetual game of one-upmanship. We all gathered around for a look. Three of the eggs looked just like the ones we get from the grocery store. The other three were much smaller, and ivory-colored.
“These three are fertilized!” he announced. “If we keep them warm for 29 days the baby chicks will hatch.”
And that’s when the drama began.
Daughter: What are you going to do with them?
Son: Eat them, I guess.
Daughter: You can’t eat the fertilized ones. That would be like eating a half-formed chick! That’s DISGUSTING!
Son: (looking slightly disgusted) Could we let them hatch?
Me: No way.
Son: Yeah, we don’t have an incubator.
Daughter: We could keep them warm with a light bulb.
Me: We don’t have food for the chicks, or a place for them to live. (Or, I might add, any parental desire to care for any more living things.)
Daughter: But we need to take care of them!
Son: (frustrated that she’s foiling him) But they’re not alive.
Daughter: But they COULD BE! If you throw them away, that would be like ABORTION!
Me: Honey, they haven’t started growing yet. It’s better to not let them begin growing than to hatch them and not take care of them.
Son: Yeah, they’re JUST EGGS.
Daughter: (Crying) You are being CRUEL TO ANIMALS!
Me: Go to your room.
The eggs await their destiny on the refrigerator shelf. Right next to the rotisserie chicken we’re eating for dinner.