The 4YO’s preschool class recently raised some chicks! One of his teachers obtained some fertilized eggs from Codman Farm in Lincoln and kept them in an incubator in the classroom. On each egg she penciled an X on one side and an O on the other. The eggs needed to be rotated several times per day (including nights and weekends), and the markings helped ensure that none of them got missed. The class kept a calendar and the children counted down the days until they hatched.
Several weeks later, two little chicks emerged. (There were more than two eggs, but it’s true what they say about not counting your chickens before they hatch.) Still, they had each other, and the smaller, balder one cuddled up underneath the bigger, fluffier one for warmth. All the kids were crazy about the chicks, but especially the 4YO (I may have mentioned his bird fixation). He staked out a special spot next to the cage during his afternoon rest time, often falling asleep from the warmth of the heat lamp and their soft peeping. I tried not to be too disgusted when I found wood shavings from the cage all over his naptime blankets. (How soon I forget about animal-induced filth now that we’ve been a cat-free household for a year.)
Needless to say, the 4YO got pretty attached to the chicks, especially the fluffy one, which he declared to be his favorite. I tried to make an argument against favoring the pretty ones over the runty, less attractive ones, but I gave up. Let’s face it, you like who you like. (Whom you like? Grammar, sometimes you cramp my style.)
But soon the chicks had to be returned to the farm where they would live out their chicken lives as egg-layers. We presume. The chickens at Codman have a pretty sweet life with their mobile coops and grassy pasture. Still, I knew it would be a bittersweet goodbye. The 4YO seemed okay at separation time, but then he was quieter than usual on the ride back home. While we were sitting at a traffic light, I heard a soft voice from the back:
Him: Mommy, I love that chick.
Me: I know, honey.
He didn’t say anything else the whole way home.
The next week, I brought him to Codman to check up on his chick. At least I think it was his chick. Who can tell? I just picked the fluffiest, yellowest puffball and declared it a reunion! The chick was now fully immersed with dozens of other preschool-aged chicks in their own little pen right next to the pen with the emo teenaged chicks and some crossover ducklings. It was pretty loud in there. The 4YO joined the ruckus, squawking away happily in the hen house.
Phew. His first chick-related heartbreak averted! But it surely won’t be his last.