I have chickens. I have four of them.
I’ve been taking care of these little guys for maybe about a month or so.
In this month that I’ve had them, we’ve invested money in food and in shelter for the little guys.
My wonderful husband spent a whole day building them an awesome pen from materials he bought at Lowes.
I spent a bit of money on their feed container and water dripper do-dad. They’ve got it made.
I go out to visit my chickens daily. I walk out to them, clicking my tongue as I go so they know it’s me. I open up the gate and step inside the pen. They scurry away from me and walk behind their coop.
Naturally, I walk around the coop to get a peek at them as I start talking. They walk around the other side and we end up doing lap upon lap around the pen.
It’s not like I chase the poor chickens, but I do want to get close.
Gathering a bit of feed in my palms, I spread out a bit of feed in front of me and crouch so they’ll come my way. One of the roosters is brave and will come withing 4 feet of me. The other guys stay far away as they are unsure of my intentions.
Even coaxing them with food, they won’t come near me. Day after day I repeat these steps yet they still scurry away from me when I approach them.
No matter how sweetly I talk or coo at them.
No matter how much food I throw down for them.
No matter how I may bribe these punky poultry, they won’t run towards me when I come near them or their cage.
As only *I* could, I drew a few parallels between my plucky chickens and my darling daughter (or children in general).
1. You can’t buy love. There isn’t any amount of money that could buy true affection. We spent money on feed, on the materials for the pen, and for the feeding equipment for the chickens. Do they give a hoot? Heck no. I don’t hear them discussing the financial details of my investments. In fact, I don’t hear them discussing much. My monetary investments have nothing to do with what they want and need: Someone to give them food and shelter.
2. Time spent with someone cannot be replaced with physical items. A person who puts in the time with someone over a long period of time is often more appreciated than one who just walks in and puts down a gift.
3. If you provide food, water, and shelter to a chicken, then it will survive. If you provide food, water, and shelter to a child, then it too will just survive. I don’t want Daphne to just make it or just survive in this world. I want Daphne to thrive–to feel loved–to love–to experience everything fully, and not to just exist. I want to provide love, patience, compassion, and so much more to my girl. There are so many people living in the world who are just surviving and my heart breaks for them. I am so thankful for what we have and that we are able to give Daphne food, water, and shelter. I want her to have many more experiences and realize we have much more to offer than just those things.
4. Fostering a safe and happy environment for chickens is *just a smidge* different than doing the same for a child. My husband spent one afternoon (maybe about 6 hours) assembling the pen for the chickens. Boom. Done. They have a safe and happy environment in which to live. If a person spent only 6 hours total invested in a child’s safe and healthy environment, I would be terrified. That environment wouldn’t really be safe or healthy. Fostering a good environment in which a child can live takes much more time and energy. It takes love and flexibility. It also takes a bigger coop (I jest).
5. You cannot expect a child to be eager to run into your arms if the child doesn’t know you. Sounds obvious enough, right? Think about that for a second. Does your child know you? Do you take the time to actively play and teach your child? Does the child know your laugh and your voice? Some mothers/fathers/caregivers have more time than others. Some moms work. Some stay at home. Being active in the moment with your child is crucial to developing the bond between the parent/caregiver and baby. I invest about 15 minutes a day in my chickens. I can say that they know more of the sound of the branches falling in the forest nearby than of my voice. It’s no wonder they run away from me.
I really enjoy spending time with Daphs. We play, we jabber, we walk, and we just hang out. I carry her around with me as I do my chores and as I bake. She’s my little sidekick. I am already nervous for the day she’ll leave the house. She’s losing her baby face and gaining a grown up one. Geez. When did my newborn become 6 months old?!